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Acad Med. 2007 Apr;82(4):361-9.

The University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine: thirty-five years of experience with a nontraditional approach to medical education.

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Department of Internal Medicine, University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine, Kansas City, Missouri 64108, USA.


The University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) School of Medicine is a public medical school that opened in 1971 in response to a need to train more physicians in Missouri. As a six-year, integrated, combined-degree program leading to the baccalaureate and medical degrees, the school offers an innovative, nontraditional approach to medical education. In the past 35 years, UMKC has graduated over 2,400 physicians who are successful according to outcomes measures used at other medical schools. With recent interest in reforming medical education to prepare physicians for a changing world, a review of alternative models may be especially instructive.UMKC's academic plan offers a blueprint for the curriculum plan and governance of the school. The plan is built on four hallmarks: (1) a combined baccalaureate/MD program, (2) early exposure to clinical medicine, (3) small-group learning through the docent system, and (4) a continuing ambulatory care clinic experience for four years. This article catalogs the results of this plan including student, faculty, and graduates' perceptions of and satisfaction with the school's educational approach, students' achievement on licensing examinations and in the residency match, graduates' performance in residency programs, and their subsequent career patterns. The authors also discuss lessons learned and adjustments made in response to local needs in the context of a changing environment in education, health care, and health care delivery while continually improving the school's nontraditional approach to medical education. These include changes in basic and clinical science instruction, student assessment, faculty development, and funding and governance.

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