Teaching about the Changing U.S. Health Care System: An Innovative Clerkship
Academic Medical Centers
Changes in the U.S. health care system have necessitated modifying the scope and content of existing courses in the medical school curricula. In 1996, the Weill Medical College of Cornell University created a new, integrated public health curriculum to reflect the changes in the ways that medical care is organized, financed, and delivered. Teaching medical students to understand the constantly changing health care system is a primary objective of the new curriculum. As part of this curriculum, the medical college instituted a required public health clerkship that focused on the health care system, to be taken in either the third or fourth year. Students are prepared for the clerkship by taking courses in epidemiology, biostatistics, and evidence-based medicine in the first year and an introduction to the health system in the second year. The two-week clerkship, which may be unique in U.S. medical education, seeks to present an in-depth exposure to issues in health care financing and delivery by means of lectures, panel discussions with experts in the field, seminars, and field assignments to health care organizations and agencies.