ABSTRACT: Educating the Educators: A Key to Curricular Integration.
According to Hopkins and colleagues, integration of basic science and clinical practice in the medical curriculum has been “incremental” at best, rather than transformative, in part because of a lack of focus on the individuals central to the integration-basic science educators. These authors maintain that those who lead change in education should not only address the systemic structure but also understand the meaning of integration for individual basic scientists at different levels of change. Their view has merit, and this Commentary author suggests three concrete steps that institutions should undertake to engage basic scientists who are interested in becoming “educationally literate” and assuming leadership roles in curriculum integration: (1) Offer opportunities to help interested basic science teaching faculty gain the necessary expertise to become skilled educators; (2) establish institutional programs and structures that foster a community of medical educators across departments and schools; and (3) align institutional priorities and incentives to promote, rather than hinder, integration in medical education. In essence, curricular integration cannot succeed if the participants do not understand the “language of education.” Furthermore, faculty who opt for an education-focused career path should be brought together from across departments, centers, and schools to create a community of educators within the academic health center. Finally, institutional leaders should place high value and proper incentives in terms of recognition and opportunities for faculty advancement to ensure that those opting to gain additional training as skilled educators will drive innovation and help move curricular reform from incremental change to transformation.