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Acad Med. 2009 Jul;84(7):886-94. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e3181a859d0.

The integrated clerkship: an innovative model for delivering clinical education at the Zhejiang University School of Medicine.

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Fourth Military Medical University, Xian, Shaanxi, China.


The traditional curriculum of clinical science at the Zhejiang University School of Medicine (ZUSM) was dominated by lectures, and many critical factors in producing competent physicians (such as the development of skills and active learning) were largely neglected. During a four-year period ending in 2007, ZUSM developed and implemented a new model for delivering clinical science education-the integrated clerkship. The principal features of the model are the greater amount of time that students are exposed to and are working in the clinical environment as clerks and the great reduction in lecture hours. Unlike the U.S. model of clerkship, the integrated clerkship at ZUSM is characterized by a progressive process, with intensive preparatory lectures before the clerkship, which is divided into two levels, junior and senior. The junior clerkship is equally divided into didactic activities and clinical practice; the senior clerkship requires students to become an essential part of the work taking place on the wards. A preliminary program evaluation showed that the fundamental goals of the integrated clerkship had been largely attained, especially the mastery of basic clinical skills and retention of medical knowledge. Surveys showed that most of the integrated clerkship students and faculty members were satisfied with the new curriculum; the students felt better prepared to cope with the professional challenges of patient care, and they began to understand how social context affects their patients. As the pilot program in China, the integrated clerkship at ZUSM may serve as a template for medical schools at a similar level, in China and elsewhere.

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