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THE INTEGRATED MEDICAL CURRICULUM
I. Concept of the Organ Systems Integrated Curriculum (OSI)
An integrated curriculum is an organization of the vertical and horizontal contents of the traditional medical curriculum into coherent learning units that bring students beyond the level of mere acquisition of facts and concepts to a higher plane of scientific understanding and fluency. Students are given more opportunities to think creatively and to act appropriately when dealing with medical problems.
Operationally, organ systems integration refers to identifying clinically relevant concepts or skills that cut across the basic and clinical sciences, and using the organ systems as foci for learning. Horizontal integration involves the unification of disciplines traditionally learned within a year level that should lead to a more comprehensive understanding of a particular cognitive area. Vertical integration, on the other hand, requires an interweaving of clinical skills and basic science knowledge starting from the early years so that learning of basic science concepts is continuous and reinforced in the clinical years. Curriculum integration can help the students cope with changes in knowledge and deal with outdated knowledge.
II. Guidelines of the Integrated Curriculum
The medical curriculum is designed according to the following guidelines:
1. Horizontal synchronization (i.e., synchronization of the different subjects within each year level);
2. Vertical synchronization (i.e., sequencing of the different subjects such that a continuous approach is achieved from one year level to the next and culminating in an integrated approach during the clinical years);
3. Simple-to-complex progression in course content;
4. Problem-solving orientation in methodology whenever applicable;
5. Clinical orientation in the teaching of basic sciences;
6. Orientation towards basic sciences in the teaching of clinical subjects;
7. A more equitable distribution of subjects, both in number and hours per semester;
8. Early clinical exposure of students and assumption of increasing responsibility in patient care;
9. Rural community service during internship to make medical students more responsive to the needs of the community and better equipped medically to meet these needs;
10. Clinical clerkship in the fifth and sixth years;
11. Internship in the seventh year;
12. Provision of time for electives and self-study.
The Integrated Medical Curriculum consists of Learning Units that revolve around a meaningful theme in each year level. Community-oriented activities (in the form of Clinico-Community Integration sessions) and other integrative strategies are woven into the different learning units appropriately.
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