What Did We Learn about Student and Faculty “Backlash” to the Interdisciplinary Generalist Curriculum Project?

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There was student and faculty backlash against the Interdisciplinary Generalist Curriculum (IGC) Project innovations at all ten schools involved. Students may react strongly to requirements and experiences they find onerous, and often reacted to being “preached at” and being told what they should value and believe. Backlash was not limited to students. A complaint heard in virtually all schools was that the basic science faculty barely had enough time to adequately cover their topics as it was, and now they were being asked to give up time for clinical experiences and topics. Despite the backlash, the authors point out that the vast majority of students endorsed the value of the preceptorship experience and that reaction to the IGC Project did not necessarily translate into negative perceptions of primary care medicine.Each IGC Project school made strategic decisions in response to backlash. Among the various efforts undertaken were enhanced communication and clarification, persistence and “watchful waiting,” programmatic changes, and elimination of program components that were not working. These various efforts appear to have paid off, as most schools reported that backlash diminished over time. Lessons learned about backlash against new curricular innovations were that (1) backlash, however defined, is inevitable; (2) communication, coordination, and cooperation are essential; (3) flexibility, compromise, and willingness to change are essential; and (4) “watchful waiting” can be an effective response to some forms of backlash.

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