Military unique curriculum: Identifying and prioritizing content

Clifford Cloonan*, Howard E. Fauver, Harry C. Holloway, Duane R. Hospenthal, John Hutton, Evelyn Lewis, Vinicio E. Madrigal, Beverly Maliner, Michael Nelson, Paul C. Reynolds, Michael Staunton, Barry A. Wayne, Michael J. Roy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


We have identified and prioritized a series of objectives that warrant inclusion in the continuum of military medical education. Although participants in the 16th Conference on Military Medicine also discussed whether each objective should be taught at the medical student, resident, or staff physician level, to a large extent this distinction is not helpful, since many, if not most, of these topic areas would likely require incorporation at each of these three levels to achieve the desired level of competence in staff physicians. Incorporation of new curricular elements poses a significant challenge, since it is already difficult to fit the existing curriculum into the available time. It is not reasonable to consider increasing the number of lecture hours. Therefore, it is probable that some elements of the existing curriculum will need to be pared down or eliminated to incorporate new material. In the past, when new material has been added to the existing curriculum, such as when the pathogenesis of human immunodeficiency virus was added, it has generally been done at the individual teacher or at most departmental level. Although this approach has the advantage of having a subject matter expert decide how best to insert new material within the fabric of the existing curriculum, there are a couple of problems with widespread use of this approach. First, some of these new objectives may not fit clearly within an existing course curriculum or department's educational mission. Second, such an approach may not provide the degree of coordination that is necessary to ensure that a new curricular item is adequately covered in all respects, and it may result in unnecessary overlap in instruction when different professors incorporate similar elements. Therefore, the prioritization of newer curricular items, as has been done during this conference, may serve as a useful guide in this process. However, a corresponding effort is needed to identify and prioritize existing curricular components. Decisions need to be made regarding what, within the existing curriculum, should be cut out or reduced to make room for some or all of these new objectives. Finally, a decision needs to be made regarding which of these identified objectives should be inserted and when and within which courses they should be taught. These are important decisions that should not be left to the whims of chance. As the responsible recipients of Uniformed Services University and Health Professions Scholarship Program medical school graduates, the services' Surgeons General need to take an active role in helping to make these decisions. The outcome of these decisions will have a direct impact on the capabilities that these future junior medical officers will bring to the patients they will care for and to the line commanders that they will support.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-45
Number of pages5
JournalMilitary Medicine
Issue numberSUPPL. 9
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2003
Externally publishedYes


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