Fitting it all in: integration of 12 cross-cutting themes into a School of Medicine curriculum.
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Changing demographic, social, economic and technological trends have impacted the expectations of the Academic Health Center in preparing physicians to serve the needs of the American society, resulting in revisions to current curricula. In addition to the traditional basic sciences and clinical disciplines, accredited medical schools are required to provide curriculum exposure in behavioral health, communication skills, diversity and cultural awareness, ethics, evidence-based medicine, geriatrics, integrative medicine, pain management, palliative care, public health, socio-economic dynamics, and domestic violence. These themes are considered 'cross-cutting' since it is recognized these important curricular components apply across all years of medical school. In this article, the authors describe a strategic model developed at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine (UNMSOM) to integrate horizontally and vertically 12 cross-cutting themes as an evolving interdisciplinary curriculum reform process. These areas were defined through a combination of internal self-study, external requirements, and student and faculty interest. In the early stage of use of this model at UNMSOM, the authors describe the new cross-cutting themes that have been integrated. Minimal disruption and a spirit of cooperation and acceptance have characterized the curricular change that has been required. Preliminary assessment indicates that the program has been successful.