A centerpiece of the Phase 1 ForWard curriculum is weekly self-directed, inquiry-based Patient-Centered Education (PaCE) Cases. 

During PaCE Case sessions, students meet in small groups to explore a patient case that connects basic science and thread concepts in a way that is relevant and applicable to authentic clinical medicine. PaCE Cases challenge students to become master adaptive learners — lifelong learners with an ability to identify knowledge gaps and find, analyze and apply new information.

The sessions are student-centered and inquiry-based. Students do most of the talking to discuss, synthesize, integrate and identify knowledge related to each case. The facilitators are not content experts and their role is to ensure that small groups stay on topic, address the learning objectives and provide feedback to each student as well as the entire group.

PaCE Case Features

In addition to medical knowledge, PaCE Cases create an environment that enables learning in many other important competency areas.

Problem solving

Cases provide a mental model to integrate concepts as they relate to a clinical problem, increasing retention and ability to transfer knowledge to future clinical scenarios.


Each student has an identified role in the group and the experience and quality of the work depends on active participation of all group members.


Effective communication skills and constructive feedback enhances the learning environment and improves group process.

Lifelong learning

The process requires learners to become adept at identifying gaps in knowledge and finding appropriate resources to address those gaps.


Students hold one another accountable to the learning standards, quality of work, learning environment and group interactions.

The specific structure of PaCE Cases creates an engaging and constructive learning environment.