The face of health care will be transformed over the next decade. Albany Medical College's faculty recognizes the demand that the new health care environment will place on practicing physicians. In response, the faculty has developed a curriculum that focuses on the principles of comprehensive care while teaching students to think and analyze information. This approach will prepare students to incorporate the multiple dimensions of care into a framework for diagnosis, prevention and treatment that will utilize an increasingly wide range of resources in an effective, efficient, and compassionate manner.
The curriculum emphasizes wellness, prevention and patient education. The collaborative relationship between primary care physicians and specialists is stressed. Through-out the curriculum students will begin to understand healthcare from an individual, community, and societal point of view. Psychosocial and legal implications of health care are also addressed.
The program for medical education is designed to provide each student with a foundation of knowledge and clinical skills essential for both graduate training and, ultimately, for assuming a challenging role in the health care delivery system. Utilizing a variety of educational formats, students are presented with the fundamental concepts upon which medical knowledge is founded, and they are trained to develop the cognitive, sensory and motor skills that serve as the basis of clinical problem-solving. The importance of life-long learning is also stressed.
To these ends, the undergraduate curriculum provides a broad, balanced program that enables graduates to select and prepare for any area of medicine. While encouraging students to accept the role of the primary care practitioner, Albany Medical College also demonstrates to students who prefer specialties the important relationship specialists have with generalists in the new health care environment.
Plan of the Curriculum
The Albany Medical College curriculum is designed with the knowledge that, upon admission, students have already received sound preliminary training in chemistry, physics and biology. This background serves as the foundation for building the knowledge and technical skills of a competent physician. The four-year medical school curriculum integrates basic science and clinical medicine to accomplish this mission.
The basic sciences have been organized into conceptual or organ system modules that begin in Year I. Clinical paradigms demonstrate the importance of basic science knowledge. In Year II the modules focus the students' attention on an understanding of "abnormal." Utilizing clinical case material, students integrate their understanding of normal and abnormal in order to develop a logical approach for clinical care.
During Year I, students are introduced to three modules that continue through the four-year experience. "Health Care and Society" introduces students to psycho-social, humanistic, ethical and legal aspects of care. "Comprehensive Care Case Study" emphasizes managed care, the health care system, epidemiology, biostatistics, the principles of evidence-based medicine and prepares students for a career of life-long learning. This module also focuses students' attention on the concept of health care delivered by a team while exploring geriatrics, substance abuse and AIDS. "Clinical Skills Laboratory" teaches interviewing, physical diagnostic skills, procedural skills, and laboratory medicine. Standardized patients help teach and test clinical skills. All four-year-long modules correlate with clinical and basic science issues that the students learn concurrently.
There is an innovative "Orientation Clerkship" between years two and three that introduces students to skills and concepts they will use in the third year. They learn how to start IVs and draw blood, do casting, suturing, CPR, first aid, and explore other practical skills. Using standardized patient encounters, students refine their history, physical and communication skills. Furthermore, they use these encounters to practice presenting patients in mock attending rounds, write progress notes, orders, and communicate with other health care providers.
The third year of medical school emphasizes ambulatory care in varied settings: rural; urban; managed care and private practice. Students also see hospitalized patients which serve as an orientation to hospital care.
In the fourth year, students rotate on hospital based clerkships that prepare them for residency and practice. During both the third and fourth years, basic science material is revisited in the context of the student's clinical experience.
Students participate in a Journal Club over the entire four years of study. The Journal Club introduces students to methods of searching for information and information management and helps them to develop the critical analytical skills necessary to evaluate the ever-growing medical literature.
The Albany Medical College curriculum is a partnership between full-time faculty, inner-city, rural and community voluntary faculty and the academic resources of the Capital Region.
The training of medical students presents "occupational hazards," such as exposure to infectious organisms, contact with patients having contagious diseases and, more rarely, contact with potentially violent patients. The "risks" of medical education are assumed by each student. The College faculty and administration insure that the students are prepared to deal with these hazards and are instructed about precautions that will minimize their exposure to contagious diseases and environmental hazards.
The Albany Medical College Graduate
Upon successful completion of the course study in medical school, a period of formal graduate training is virtually mandatory prior to career participation in any of the broad spectrum of professional health care activities. Such graduate training is designed to prepare the physician trainee for certification as a practitioner within one of the recognized areas of specialty practice. Training periods usually occupy from three to five years, during which time the graduate physician in engaged in a program of supervised progressive health care responsibilities interwoven into an educational framework somewhat less structured than in the preceding medical school experience. For details regarding the availability of, application procedures for, and remuneration associated with such training experiences, the candidate is referred to the American Medical Association's annually published Directory of Residency Training Programs and National Resident Matching Program Directory.
Albany Medical College graduates compete favorably for available training opportunities and have, upon completion of graduate training, achieved recognition for excellence in all areas of medicine including practice, research, teaching and administration.
Internships and Residencies
Senior medical students at Albany Medical College select their internships and residencies through the National Residency Matching Program, which is designed to provide fairness and complete freedom to each applicant in procuring the graduate program of choice. As house officers, Albany Medical College graduates find that they are well prepared to assume the responsibilities and privileges of graduate training and patient care. Many graduates continue their education at Albany Medical Center, while others select internship and residency programs at other outstanding teaching hospitals thoughout the country.