Leadership Lessons from Curricular Change at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine

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After successive Liaison Committee on Medical Education accreditation reports that criticized the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine for lack of instructional innovation and curriculum oversight, the dean issued a mandate for curriculum reform in 1997. Could a medical school that prided itself on innovation in research and health care do the same in education? The authors describe their five-phase curriculum change process and correlate this to an eight-step leadership model.The first phase of curricular change is to establish a compelling need for change; it requires leaders to create a sense of urgency and build a guiding coalition to achieve action. The second phase of curriculum reform is to envision a bold new curriculum; leaders must develop such a vision and communicate it broadly. The third phase is to design curriculum and obtain the necessary approvals; this requires leaders to empower broad-based action and generate short-term wins. In the fourth phase, specific courses are developed for the new curriculum, and leaders continue to empower broad-based action, generate short-term wins, consolidate gains, and produce more change. During the fifth phase of implementation and evaluation, leaders need to further consolidate gains, produce more change, and anchor new approaches in the institution. Arising from this experience and the correlation of curricular change phases with leadership steps, the authors identify 27 specific leadership strategies they employed in their curricular reform process.

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