Most medical schools these days are moving towards the 1.5 curriculum – that is, 1.5 years of didactic classroom learning, and 2.5 years of clinical learning. Instead of the traditional 2 years of lecture and 2 years of rotations, you begin rotations January of your second year.
I always thought this was the superior curriculum, because how can there be anything wrong with getting thrown onto the wards earlier and to learn things that will be very relevant for your board exams? I am definitely grateful that we were able to start rotating early on in our education and am always surprised when some of my friends at other schools say they are studying for their step exams right now after they have just finished the didactic portion of their education. We won’t be taking our step exams until next year, which to me is a huge relief.
Although I think the 1.5 curriculum is extremely advantageous and has helped me to learn a lot in such a short time, I have noticed some pitfalls. One being, we feel very lacking in knowledge on the wards. I am certain that no matter when you start rotations, you will feel this way as a medical student, but I feel this affects us a bit more because we needed to cram 2 years’ worth of information into 1.5 years, not allowing us as much time to synthesize and commit to memory essential content. In addition, I wonder how students on the 2+2 curriculum will get treated once they enter their clerkship years. For now, I feel that I am babied on rotations and a lot of physicians treat us like we know nothing – this can be good if you’re feeling incompetent in something and need more guidance, or if you do not want to get yelled at for doing something wrong, but it can also be disadvantageous if you wanted more autonomy and wanted to do more.
I do feel that overall, beginning rotations earlier is better. Even if you feel less confident in your knowledge and have forgotten all that you have tried to cram in in just 1.5 years, you learn SO much on the wards and the steep learning curve is such a thrilling feeling. It is an extremely valuable experience that gets you thinking and behaving like a practicing physician earlier on in your career, which is only good for your future.