The Re-Imaging Medical Education team (RIME) sort through feedback from students, faculty and staff on how medical education could be changed for the better.
RIME team sorts through feedback from students, faculty and staff. RIME team, Cumming School of Medicine

Nov. 18, 2021

Re-Imagining Medical Education initiative moves ahead

Appetite for change and innovation drives UCalgary medical school's first look at undergrad medical education in 15 years; curricular reform and further consultation now underway

Only three years ago, Dr. Rahim Kachra, MD, sat across a desk from Dr. Sylvain Coderre, MD, associate dean of undergraduate medical education at the time, and asked, “How can we improve the experience for medical students at the Cumming School of Medicine?”

That simple question evolved into Re-Imagining Medical Education (RIME), an initiative aimed at promoting local improvements and innovation in the undergraduate medical curriculum at the University of Calgary.

The process began with a small team that included students, faculty, and staff, using design thinking methods early on to better understand areas in the curriculum that could be improved through prolonged end-user engagement.

“We went in not knowing what the pain points were that needed to be addressed. We started by hanging out in lectures, and we’d see when people were losing focus,” says Kachra, clinical associate professor and director of teaching innovation for undergraduate medical education at the Cumming School of Medicine (CSM).

Over the past couple of years, we’ve gained insights from our collective engagement with students, faculty, master teachers, administrators and course chairs — just to name a few. Everything we have learned is informed by the CSM community.

The review would be the first broad look at undergraduate medical education in 15 years. The initial team (in 2018) included Kachra; Mike Paget, manager of academic technology; Dr. Allison Brown, then a PhD student, now assistant professor in the Department of Medicine; and three medical students: Zachary Urquhart, Kate Brockman, and Joshua Low.

“What started out as a process of discovery has created an appetite for change,” says Dr. Chris Naugler, MD, associate dean of undergraduate medical education. “This is an exciting opportunity to co-create a medical training program and learning environment that is informed by stakeholders and grounded in the best evidence on medical education.”

In February 2021, the team received approval in principle from the Undergraduate Medical Education Council (UMEC) to look at the feasibility of implementing a new curriculum. In October, the team presented to UMEC again and received approval to re-engage with members of the CSM community for structural design, curriculum mapping, and content creation.

Tremendous opportunity for change

“This is a tremendous opportunity to refine the content and delivery of our UME curriculum. The excitement around this initiative is palpable,” says Dr. Bev Adams, MD, senior associate dean of education. “We are fortunate to have excellent medical educators in Calgary who can see this through.”

The RIME Committee comprises a team working on further developing a curriculum prototype that would promote concepts such as spirality, generalism, and structural competency throughout all aspects of the curriculum.

The data collected from students, faculty and staff shaped categories.

The feedback was sorted into categories.

RIME team, Cumming School of Medicine

“I’m very excited about this next phase. We have seen setbacks over the past 18 months secondary to the necessary and rapid reorganization of medical education delivery during a pandemic. At the same time, we’ve continued to learn from the community,” says Kachra. “We’ve watched as our preceptors and students have adapted to learning methods forced by the pandemic. Now, we need everyone who is an expert in their space to be engaged to make this new curriculum a reality. It’s essential.”

In the new year, UME will start posting positions for chairs of new courses to oversee the further development of the curriculum. The goal is to implement the new curriculum in July 2023.

If you have comments to share about the curriculum you are invited to send your feedback and comments to the team here.

Stakeholders are co-creating a medical training program and learning environment at the CSM

Rahim Kachra is director of teaching innovation undergraduate medical education, a clinical associate professor in the Department of Medicine, and a member of the O’Brien Institute for Public Health at the CSM.

Chris Naugler is the associate dean undergraduate medical education, a professor in the departments of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, Family Medicine and Community Health Sciences and a member of the O’Brien Institute for Public Health  and the Arnie Charbonneau Cancer Institute at the CSM.

Bev Adams is senior associate dean (education), an associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry and member of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute at the CSM.