Strategies from 11 U.S. Medical Schools for Integrating Basic Science into Core Clerkships

Michelle Daniel*, Gail Morrison, Karen E. Hauer, Arnyce Pock, Christine Seibert, Jonathan Amiel, Molly Poag, Nadia Ismail, John L. Dalrymple, Karin Esposito, Cathleen Pettepher, Sally A. Santen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Calls for curricular reform in medical schools and enhanced integration of basic and clinical science have resulted in a shift toward preclerkship curricula that enhance the clinical relevance of foundational science instruction and provide students with earlier immersion in the clinical environment. These reforms have resulted in shortened preclerkship curricula, yet the promise of integrated basic science education into clerkships has not been sufficiently realized because of barriers such as the nature of clinical practice, time constraints, and limited faculty knowledge. As personalized medicine requires that physicians have a more nuanced understanding of basic science, this is cause for alarm. To address this problem, several schools have developed instructional and assessment strategies to better integrate basic science into the clinical curriculum. In this article, faculty and deans from 11 U.S. medical schools discuss the strategies they implemented and the lessons they learned to provide guidance to other schools seeking to enhance basic science education during clerkships. The strategies include program-level interventions (e.g., longitudinal sessions dedicated to basic science during clerkships, weeks of lessons dedicated to basic science interspersed in clerkships), clerkship-level interventions (e.g., case-based learning with online modules, multidisciplinary clerkship dedicated to applied science), bedside-level interventions (e.g., basic science teaching scripts, self-directed learning), and changes to formative and summative assessments (e.g., spaced repetition/leveraging test-enhanced learning, developing customized examinations). The authors discovered that: interventions were more successful when buy-in from faculty and students was considered, central oversight by curricular committees collaborating with faculty was key, and some integration efforts may require schools to provide significant resources. All schools administered the United States Medical Licensing Examination Step 1 exam to students after clerkship, with positive outcomes. The authors have demonstrated that it is feasible to incorporate basic science into clinical clerkships, but certain challenges remain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1125-1130
Number of pages6
JournalAcademic Medicine
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2021
Externally publishedYes


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