UCSF 2.0: Reinventing Learning and Education

May 15, 2014

Interim Chancellor Sam Hawgood, MBBS, and Vice Dean Catherine Lucey, MD, prepare for the day's activities during the January retreat.

Many of the ideas to reinvent learning and education specified in the strategic planning initiative known as UCSF 2.0 were discussed during the UCSF School of Medicine retreat.

The retreat brought together top faculty from throughout the University to find ways to leverage best practices in all of the areas where UCSF is providing education.

Importantly, all six of the innovation areas identified in UCSF 2.0 have an educational component, said Catherine Lucey, MD, vice dean of education in the School of Medicine.

One of the biggest changes in the medical school's new curriculum is incorporating the outcomes of medical education, beyond what it would mean for students who must study hard to earn good grades and make effective decisions as young doctors. The new curricula will also take into account what a student would need to do as a member of the health care team to improve the quality, safety and efficacy of patient care in the settings where they train, Lucey said.

“Instead of just looking from an educational perspective at the quality of our graduates and their satisfaction with their training program, we also want to be partners with our health care delivery institutions and their successes will be a component of our success,” Lucey said.

For neuroscientist and medical educator Dan Lowenstein, MD, professor and vice chair of the Department of Neurology, one of the most exciting ideas to emerge from the School of Medicine retreat, which aligns well with those in UCSF 2.0, is to expand the opportunities for interprofessional education.

For example, graduate students and medical students could be assigned to a group to work on a disease area to jointly learn both the clinical and basic science aspects of a disease. Through the course, the group would observe a clinician taking care of patients for one afternoon a week for a few weeks.

Working in groups the students would tackle an assignment like genetic testing and work together to predict and interpret results based on what they learn about the patient. 

“When the results come back the students would directly observe to what extent the testing provided final answers,” Lowenstein said. “As is often the case, the results may fall short in providing a definitive diagnosis or clear-cut therapeutic options. Students would then gain a deep appreciation for the current limitations in our understanding of disease, and the manner in which our ignorance directly impacts the lives of patients. This will hopefully be a powerful motivator for working on the unanswered questions for the remainder of the course and beyond.”

Fourth-year pharmacy student Korana Avdagic helps a patient named Helen sort  
out the long list of medications she's been prescribed to take daily. 

Photo by Elisabeth Fall/fallfoto.com

Lowenstein also foresees greater use of educational platforms that students can rely on as credible information sources that would free them up from rote memorization to think at a more conceptual level.

The next step is to take the initiatives and weave them together in an integrated education and learning environment strategic plan for the campus, Lucey said. An advantage in this year’s retreat is that faculty reflected on and connected the ideas that were generated in previous retreats. The challenge now is to look forward and support the vision of UCSF 2.0.

“We want to ensure that our ideas build upon each other and are part of a bigger picture of where we’ve been and where we want to go in the future,” Lucey said.

Creating New Health Care Delivery Models

For its part, the UCSF School of Pharmacy is creating new health care delivery models and training opportunities for its students and residents, such as its recent partnership with Walgreens and UCSF Medical Center.

A Walgreens "Well Experience" store recently opened on the Parnassus campus to provide expanded health services and foster increased patient-pharmacist interaction. With an expanded pharmacy practice at UCSF, pharmacists and pharmacy students are more accessible to community members and patients.

The ultimate aim is to improve patient outcomes by refining and developing medication management methods and pharmacy-patient care models. It allows pharmacists to practice at the top of their licensure, while serving as a training ground for student pharmacists during the experiential portion of their doctoral degree program at UCSF and as a clinical training site for pharmacy residents.

This new model of care and learning follows California Senate Bill 493, which took effect Jan. 1, 2014, expanding the role of pharmacists on the patient care team. Under the new bill, pharmacists can perform additional health care responsibilities within the realm of their expertise, such as furnishing certain medicines, monitoring patient health and adjusting prescriptions, as needed.

“Modern medicine has transformed many diseases from urgent, life-threatening conditions into chronic illnesses that can be managed with the right medications, but that means more and more patients are juggling multiple prescriptions, with complex instructions,” Joseph Guglielmo, PharmD, dean of the School of Pharmacy, said at the time of the opening. “And, in many instances, this complicated medication list is inaccurate and incomplete. This collaboration aims to transform the practice of community pharmacies to enable pharmacists to do what they’re trained to do, which is helping patients manage their health with the right medications and understand how to take them correctly.”