Balancing Time

School of Medicine

“You get how much time for cardio?” My friend, a third year medical student at a different school, was a bit surprised at the reduced amount of time we have dedicated to Cardiology in the new Bridges curriculum compared to his.

The new curriculum follows the lead of many other medical schools in cutting down the number of preclinical years to a year and a half instead of the traditional two years.

This makes the preclinical time of medical students even more valuable than it was before. To compensate, schools condense material and remove repetitive or less important topics.

While UCSF has used the above compensatory mechanisms, they’ve also chosen to emphasize topics that some other schools don’t to create a relatively unique Bridges curriculum.

Overall, I’m very happy to be at a school that has decided to allot significant amounts of time to making us more competent researchers, recognizing our unconscious biases, and creating an inclusive culture.

Of course, with any new curriculum there will be growing pains, and Bridges has its fair share.

Primary among them is the distribution of time between class blocks, each of which focuses on a different set of topics.

A good example is our most recent block, Health and the Individual (H&I).

While the topics we’ve covered — like smoking cessation and all the components that go into how a person defines their identity — are undeniably valuable, there has been less material per week relative to previous blocks.

Thus, the pace of H&I has been much slower than the pace of our previous block Airways, Blood, and Circulation (ABC), which included cardiology.

Many students who felt rushed and barely able to stay on top of the assigned readings in ABC felt like they had too much time in H&I.

Some might argue that there’s a benefit to having a slower paced block after one as hectic as ABC.

I would agree with that sentiment, as H&I has been a welcome change of pace. Another popular idea, however, is to allocate our time a bit differently to provide a more consistent student experience between blocks.

For example, a week could be moved from H&I to ABC to make them three and eight weeks long, respectively.

It’s an easy fix and one that could be implemented for next year’s class. Many think it could also be helpful to look ahead and try to pick out any other blocks where similar issues might arise.

Fortunately, we have an incredible administration here at UCSF who are not only listening to our feedback, but actively making changes in response.

I trust them to make any appropriate changes to the curriculum to improve the experiences and learning of current and future UCSF Medical School classes.