U. celebrates 50th anniversary of medical school

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In the early 1970s, a group of students in the University’s two-year MD program, smelling of formaldehyde and corpses, were betting on whether or not to establish a four-year medical school. These same students would go on to become members of the first class of Brown’s four-year medical school.

Since its founding in March 1972, 3,893 doctors have earned MDs from Brown Medical School – renamed Warren Alpert Medical School in 2007, according to a news announcement. To celebrate the medical school’s 50th anniversary, the University will host a 15-month series of events called “50 Years of Medicine at Brown,” according to Michele Cyr, senior associate dean for academic affairs for biology and medicine. .

This series will to start up with an event on Pembroke Field on Friday, April 29 and includes a number of different programs and activities. It will end with an event in June 2023 in coordination with the start and the meeting.

Events will be planned by a steering committee comprised of medical students, faculty, and staff from the University and medical school, including representatives from community and government relations, advancement, communications, office of the rector and the School of Public Health, according to Cyr.

50 years of liberal education

Brown’s School of Medicine was established under the leadership of founding Dean of Medicine Stanley Aronson, second Dean of Medicine David Greer, and a “cohort of medical students and faculty committed to a new reinvention of medical education,” according to the Warren Alpert Medical School. website.

“It was a very progressive school,” said Glenn Mitchell ’67 MA ’69 MD ’75, who is also treasurer of the Brown Medical Alumni Association. “We had no notes. We had individual assessments (for) the courses (and) wonderful exposure, early on, to clinical work.”

Brown gave students the opportunity to gain early clinical experience at local hospitals rather than just reading textbooks, according to Jon Elion ’72 MD ’75, clinical associate professor of medicine at Brown. Elion said he vividly remembers meeting a patient with Parkinson’s disease during one of these clinical opportunities who had a “wonderful sense of humour”.

Students in the School of Medicine have always been able to explore other interests beyond medicine.

Anthony Caldamone ’72 MD ’75, professor of neurology and pediatrics at the medical school, said he had a minor in music and was able to take music lessons during his first two years at the faculty of medicine. “I gained a greater appreciation for culture in the fine arts than I otherwise would have,” Caldamone said.

In the mid-1980s, Brown established the Liberal Medical Education Program, an eight-year program for undergraduate and medical study and one of “the major distinguishing features of medical school,” Cyr said. .

Judy Jang ’03 MD ’07, Acting Associate Dean of PLME, noted that the program gives undergraduate students the chance to gain “enriching experience” by exploring additional topics of interest beyond the required coursework. to apply to medical school. When Jang herself was a PLME student, she took visual arts classes alongside her major in biology and business economics, and spent a summer abroad in Taiwan, she said. .

Nisha Trivedi ’94 MD ’98, assistant professor of health services, policy and practice in the School of Public Health, also took advantage of the intellectual freedom of the PLME program by taking an advanced music class even though she could barely read a musical score. .

“At Brown, I learned there was so much I could do as a doctor outside of clinical medicine,” Trivedi said. As a professor, Trivedi developed a first-year seminar, PHP 0050: “Pain and the Human Condition: Exploring the Science, Medicine and Culture of Pain,” which combined his background in anesthesiology, his background as a neuroscience hub and his interest in public health.

Evolutionary program, research

Throughout its 50 years, the medical school curriculum has evolved from a traditional structure to a competency-based structure. The program assesses students on “the nine abilities” that define “the knowledge, skills, and personal and professional values ​​we expect of all of our graduates,” according to the medical school’s website.

Cyr added that the school has recently emphasized a “culturally sensitive curriculum” that embodies diversity, equity and inclusion.

The medical school has a committee that “reviews curricula” to ensure inclusiveness and cultural sensitivity and recently hired Anne Vera Cruz, associate program dean for diversity, inclusive teaching and learning, to ensure that faculty slides and programs “represent our values”. said Cyr.

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The medical school has also made significant contributions to research in cardiovascular and vaccine biology and international health over the past decades, said Dean of Medicine and Biological Sciences Mukesh Jain. More recently, the medical school’s main research areas have included brain health, cardiovascular disease and cancer, he added.

Looking Ahead: The Next 50 Years

“Milestones like this provide an opportunity to see where you’ve been and where you’re going,” Jain said. Going forward, he added, the medical school is focusing on four areas of development: an integrated health system, community engagement, doubling research, and increasing diversity and ‘inclusion.

The medical school hopes to develop an integrated health system to increase engagement between the medical school and regional health systems such as Lifespan and Care New England, to develop more clinically focused research in the health system , according to Jain.

PLME also strives to continue to strengthen “longitudinal relationships” between undergraduate students and medical school professors so that students can quickly learn about the clinical side of medicine, Jang said.

The University hopes to increase community engagement in Rhode Island to target issues such as access to health and education, as well as food and health security. The medical school also plans to “triple” its commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, including developing an anti-racism curriculum for faculty, according to Jain.

Provost Richard Locke P’18 also highlighted the research as a “major initiative” for the University, Jain said. The medical school will help in the effort to “double research,” including bringing new diagnostics and therapeutics to patients, Jain said.

“There is room for improvement for everyone, including Brown,” he added.

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