Designing a Shortened Preclinical Basic Science Curriculum: Expert-Derived Recommendations

Acad Med. 2023 Aug 1;98(8):922-928. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000005221. Epub 2023 Mar 24.


Purpose: To generate an expert-derived list of recommendations for how medical schools should approach decisions about the placement of basic science topics within shortened preclinical curricula, which allow for early clinical immersion.

Method: A modified Delphi process was used to develop consensus on recommendations (March-November 2021). The authors performed semistructured interviews with national undergraduate medical education (UME) experts from institutions that previously underwent curricular reforms involving shortened preclinical curricula to elicit perspectives on how decisions were made at their institutions. The authors condensed the findings into a preliminary list of recommendations and distributed this list in 2 survey rounds to a larger group of national UME experts (from institutions that previously underwent curricular reforms or held positions of authority within national UME organizations) to gauge their level of agreement with each recommendation. Recommendations were revised based on participant comments, and those with at least 70% somewhat or strong agreement after the second survey were included in the final comprehensive list of recommendations.

Results: Interviews were conducted with 9 participants and resulted in 31 preliminary recommendations that were then sent via survey to the 40 recruited participants. Seventeen/40 (42.5%) participants completed the first survey, after which 3 recommendations were removed, 5 were added, and 5 were revised based on comments-resulting in 33 recommendations. Twenty-two/38 (57.9%) participants responded to the second survey, after which all 33 recommendations met inclusion criteria. The authors removed 3 recommendations that did not directly address the curriculum reform process and consolidated the final 30 recommendations into 5 succinct, actionable takeaways.

Conclusions: This study generated 30 recommendations (summarized by the authors in 5 succinct takeaways) for medical schools designing a shortened preclinical basic science curriculum. These recommendations reinforce the importance of vertically integrating basic science instruction with explicit clinical relevance into all curricular phases.

MeSH terms

  • Consensus
  • Curriculum
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate*
  • Humans
  • Schools, Medical
  • Surveys and Questionnaires