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Elective program expands education in new directions

Feb. 13, 2014, 9:31 AM

‘Wellness — Running for Your Life’ is one of the offerings of the new Evening Elective Program for School of Medicine and School of Nursing students, residents and fellows. Each week the class meets for a group run at the home of Scott Rodgers, M.D., at right holding his dog, Baxter. (photo by Anne Rayner)

This semester Vanderbilt University School of Medicine introduced a new Evening Elective Program designed for medical and nursing students, residents and fellows with the goal of developing well-rounded health care professionals.

Course topics range from health care finance and spirituality to public speaking and foreign languages.

“The idea is to give students an opportunity for academic and life enrichment,” said Scott Rodgers, M.D., associate dean for Medical Students. “These are courses that you would not necessarily see in a standard curriculum, yet they are topics of interest.

“This is an entirely voluntary, non-graded activity that is not covered by the traditional curriculum. It is intended to be fun and allow participants from different disciplines in health care to expand their knowledge in a variety of areas.”

Prior to introducing Curriculum 2.0, Vanderbilt required students to enroll in preclinical elective courses, which were only available to medical students. With the recent curriculum change, the medical school’s leadership team saw an opportunity to expand the course offerings to nursing students and resident physicians and fellows in a format that would not conflict with the rigors of their daily schedule.

Resident Kristy Kummerow, M.D., makes a point during ‘Personal Glimpse into Palliative Care,’ one of the offerings of Vanderbilt’s new Evening Elective Program for School of Medicine and School of Nursing students, residents and fellows. (photo by Anne Rayner)

Classes meet weekly through April at a time determined by the group between 5-9 p.m.

The elective program fits nicely into the emerging trend seen in medical education — interprofessional learning that centers on patient-focused health care teams consisting of students from varied disciplines working and thinking together about the entire health care experience.

Although Rodgers hoped for a good response, he was surprised by the amount of interest.

“Some of our elective offerings were full within an hour and several have long waiting lists,” said Rodgers. “This is a test run, and if the program is successful I think we will continue it for next semester.”

Rodgers is not aware of similar programs at other medical schools.

“I am looking forward to hearing feedback from both faculty and participants,” he said. “I really like the idea of offering low-key, low-stress, fun enrichment courses. We are literally in the first phase and I really want to hear ideas for future courses.”

Course offerings include: Global Health Politics and Policy, Hot Topics in Healthcare Finance, Beginning Spanish for Medicine, Intermediate Spanish for Medicine, French Language for Beginners, Spirituality in Medicine, Wellness — Running for Your Life, Personal Glimpse into Palliative Care, Public Speaking in Medicine and Medical Photography.

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