Curriculum Changes and Trends 2010-2020: A Focused National Review Using the AAMC Curriculum Inventory and the LCME Annual Medical School Questionnaire Part II

Acad Med. 2020 Sep;95(9S A Snapshot of Medical Student Education in the United States and Canada: Reports From 145 Schools):S5-S14. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000003484.


Medical school curricula have evolved from 2010 to 2020. Numerous pressures and influences affect medical school curricula, including those from external sources, academic medical institutions, clinical teaching faculty, and undergraduate medical students. Using data from the AAMC Curriculum Inventory and the LCME Annual Medical School Questionnaire Part II, the nature of curriculum change is illuminated. Most medical schools are undertaking curriculum change, both in small cycles of continuous quality improvement and through significant change to curricular structure and content. Four topic areas are explored: cost consciousness, guns and firearms, nutrition, and opioids and addiction medicine. The authors examine how these topic areas are taught and assessed, where in the curriculum they are located, and how much time is dedicated to them in relation to the curriculum as a whole. When examining instructional methods overall, notable findings include (1) the decrease of lecture, although lecture remains the most used instructional method, (2) the increase of collaborative instructional methods, (3) the decrease of laboratory, and (4) the prevalence of clinical instructional methods in academic levels 3 and 4. Regarding assessment methods overall, notable findings include (1) the recent change of the USMLE Step 1 examination to a pass/fail reporting system, (2) a modest increase in narrative assessment, (3) the decline of practical labs, and (4) the predominance of institutionally developed written/computer-based examinations and participation. Among instructional and assessment methods, the most used methods tend to cluster by academic level. It is critical that faculty development evolves alongside curricula. Continued diversity in the use of instructional and assessment methods is necessary to adequately prepare tomorrow's physicians. Future research into the life cycle of a curriculum, as well optional curriculum content, is warranted.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Academic Medical Centers / organization & administration
  • Addiction Medicine / education
  • Addiction Medicine / statistics & numerical data
  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Costs and Cost Analysis / economics
  • Curriculum / trends*
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate / methods*
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate / trends
  • Educational Measurement / methods
  • Faculty, Medical / standards*
  • Firearms
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Nutritional Sciences / education
  • Nutritional Sciences / statistics & numerical data
  • Schools, Medical / history*
  • Schools, Medical / trends
  • Students, Medical / statistics & numerical data
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Analgesics, Opioid