Integrating clinical and basic sciences throughout the medical school curriculum has become a major objective of various innovations in medical education. While early clinical exposure has evolved as an efficient means of introducing clinical studies in the preclinical years, interdisciplinary integration of basic sciences during the clinical years remains a challenge. The authors describe their three years of experience with an interdisciplinary course designed to demonstrate the continuum of medical information from the clinic to the basic sciences. In this course, sixth-year medical students are required to choose one of three to four different one-week programs, each of which requires them to conduct an in-depth investigation of a defined clinical topic. Program coordinators are encouraged to work in clinician-basic scientist teams and to use a variety of teaching methods, with an emphasis on tutored individual and group learning based on critical readings of original papers. Coordinators are also encouraged to enable graduate research students to participate. From 1998 to 2000, students participated in nine programs, seven of which were coordinated by interdisciplinary teams. Several clinical and basic science disciplines were represented in each program, and various teaching methods were used. Graduate students participated in two of the programs. Evaluation of the programs (a debriefing discussion as well as short written evaluations) indicated moderate to good achievement of the course objectives.
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