USD Medical School clerkship to be studied as national model

VERMILLION, S.D. -- An innovative way of teaching medical students at The University of South Dakota’s Sanford School of Medicine Yankton Campus will be part of a national three-year study.

A $455,925 grant from the Josiah Macy, Jr. Foundation of New York will compare the way students are taught during their third-year clerkship with more traditional models. Two other institutions also will be studied: School of Medicine at University of California-San Francisco and Cambridge Hospital at Harvard Medical School.

The Yankton Model Program is a unique third-year clerkship that was developed to meet the educational needs of today’s society. This longitudinal integrated clerkship stresses continuity of care, problem solving and community involvement. The 12-month clerkship is centered at an ambulatory clinic.

Students are introduced to patients and follow them throughout the year in the Yankton Medical Clinic, at home and when admitted to Avera Sacred Heart Hospital. This provides a true continuity of care experience for the students and helps them learn to be responsible for the patient’s total health care needs.

The study will be aimed at determining if the longitudinal integrated clerkship is more effective than traditional clerkships. Some experts are concerned that traditional clerkships may impede students' professional development and cause them to be ill prepared to manage chronic illnesses and practice in an ambulatory setting.

"We anticipate that students in the longitudinal clerkship model will have more active participation in authentic activities, more substantial meaningful experiences connecting with physicians, other health providers and patients and a more patient-centered approach to their practice,” Dr. Lori Hansen, MD and dean of the Yankton campus said. “These findings will inform the discussion about reforming clinical clerkship education nationally."

The Yankton Model Program began in 1991. To date 210 students have completed it.