Recently, on March 21st, I marked my one-year anniversary with American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine (AUC). As our medical students can attest, a year can go by quickly. I am amazed at what we at AUC have been able to accomplish in such a short time, even amidst some very difficult challenges. I am excited about the year ahead of us and am confident that we will be able to continue to move forward.
I came on board with two broad objectives: to address any immediate needs of our students and to set a course for the next several years. AUC has a wonderful tradition and a great track record of preparing physicians. My goal has been and continues to be to preserve and build on the qualities that make AUC a unique institution. But like all medical schools we must also dedicate the energy and resources required to ensure that our institution can meet the challenges we face, and be agile enough to meet the evolving demands of graduate medical education and healthcare delivery.
In recent years AUC has made tremendous strides in advancing the medical sciences program, evidenced by our rising USMLE Step 1 pass rate, which is on par with U.S. and Canadian schools. When I joined AUC last year, it was clear that we still had work to do to bring the clinical phase of training up to that same high standard. We devoted focus to two areas: improving the clinical student experience and enhancing support for our clinical students’ academic performance.
We needed to create an infrastructure and environment capable of addressing these two key facets of the clinical program. We brought in new leadership, restructured and expanded our student support team, and created the expectation that we would provide world-class service to our students. We added clinical capacity in the United States and the United Kingdom and are now prepared for the larger classes that will be entering clinical training.
To support our students’ academic performance, we built the technology backbone to provide clinical students with additional academic support—the Millennium Program. We piloted this program in February, providing online access to course objectives, required clinical encounters, and supplemental online cases, and an electronic method of compiling the required case log. The next step will be to add practice questions for USMLE Step 2 CK and we are on track to have this available to all clinical students by September 2014. To increase our students’ preparedness for the residency match, we launched the physician match advisor program, a service we will be expanding in the coming year.
Although I am pleased with our progress, we still have work to do. We will continue to improve how we help our students prepare for the residency Match, including those entering the Canadian match, and we will implement a practice USMLE Step 2 CS examination to better prepare our students for this high-stakes examination.
All of these initiatives have the potential to impact students who are in the midst of their experience at AUC. We also are looking several years ahead and considering how AUC will evolve to meet the needs of future students. I am happy to report that with the support of our Board of Trustees, we have defined our strategic vision and goals. We have also conducted an in-depth self-study, identified our strengths and challenges, and prioritized our activities for the next year. While we will continue our focus on preparing our graduates to successfully compete in the Match and improving the clinical phase of training, we will also begin important work integrating the medical science and clinical training phases and improving our use of educational technologies in ways that most benefit our learners.
I am pleased with how far we have come already, and I continue to be inspired and invigorated by the dedication of our students and faculty. AUC is truly a special institution, and I have been privileged to come in and serve as executive dean for the past year. I look forward to another year of working with our students, faculty, colleagues, and partners to ensure that AUC continues to achieve its mission.
Dr. Heidi Chumley
Posted April 03, 2014 10:48 AM