Strategic funding from the Wisconsin Partnership Program is helping to prepare the next generation of physicians at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health. With support from the Partnership Program, the SMPH has redesigned its medical curriculum into a model that fully integrates basic, public health and clinical sciences throughout the medical student’s education. Students learn to work in the exam room, and within communities and complex health systems—to understand how to care for both patients and populations.

In 2016, the Wisconsin Partnership Program funded the third and final phase of Transforming Medical Education (TME), which supports the implementation of the full three-phase ForWard Curriculum. The innovative competency-based curriculum ensures that SMPH graduates are well equipped to work in complex health systems and within local, regional, national and global communities to address key determinants of health.

Christine Seibert, MD, SMPH associate dean of medical education says, “SMPH’s ForWard Curriculum develops a workforce that will be better prepared to play a role in creating healthier communities, improving health outcomes and decreasing disparities.

Student with doctor
Investments in education ensure that SMPH graduates are well equipped to work in complex health systems and within local, regional, national and global communities to address key determinants of health.

“Our students are developing skills that will equip them to address critical issues such as social determinants of health, bias and health equity, as well as some of the largest health problems that our state faces —obesity, mental health issues and substance abuse.”

Helping students connect with community members is one part of the new model. Early on in their education, medical students leave their classrooms to meet with local community leaders. The medical school works in partnership with community organizations such as the Lussier Community Education Center, in Madison, Wisconsin.

The center’s director, Paul Terranova, helps connect leaders from the local community with medical students. The students attend small group discussions and hear from neighborhood leaders about the challenges and obstacles their community faces. They discuss access to healthcare, physician-patient relationships, as well as access to healthy food, physical activity, and other issues that influence health.

“It’s remarkable that some of the students’ first teachers are individuals without any medical experience or degree—who otherwise may be marginalized—but have tremendous life experience that can’t be conveyed in a textbook or classroom," Terranova says.