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UTRGV School of Medicine joins AMA’s Medical Education Consortium

By Jennifer L. Berghom

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Nov. 4, 2015 – The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley’s School of Medicine will join leading medical schools throughout the country in determining best practices for the future of medical education.

The School of Medicine has been accepted into the American Medical Association Accelerating Change in Medical Education Consortium and received a three-year, $75,000 grant to implement a program to help its first cohort of students develop strong communication skills.

“Acceptance into this prestigious consortium is evidence of the important role the UTRGV School of Medicine will play in promoting change through innovation in medical and health education,” said Dr. Francisco Fernandez, inaugural dean of the School of Medicine.

“Drs. Arden Dingle and Valerie Terry have taken a large step forward with this project, which promotes and improves the communicative skills of students showing the usefulness of an early-offered intervention on patient-physician communication within our medical curriculum. We look forward to seeing the results of their work and congratulate them on their participation in the consortium,” he said.

The grant project, “Using Technology to Enhance the Pedagogy of Interpersonal Communication in Medicine,” involves having medical students use computer tablets to log patients’ oral histories, record group interactions and document other interpersonal interactions in a variety of activities, including some of the School of Medicine’s interprofessional initiatives.

Dingle, UTRGV professor of psychiatry and chief of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and Terry, instructional development designer III at UTRGV, are the principal investigators of the grant, which means they developed and are in charge of carrying out the project.

Terry said the goal of the project is to have medical students develop strong communication skills through activities included in the school’s integrated curriculum.

“The ability to communicate effectively is essential to the practice of medicine,” she said. “With the introduction of technologies such as electronic medical records into all aspects of health care, teaching aspiring physicians to use technology to enhance, rather than impede, informational and empathetic exchanges with patients, families and other providers becomes essential to all levels of medical education.”

Dingle agrees that winning this AMA award is an indication that UTRGV School of Medicine is being recognized nationally for its innovative approach to medical education.

“We are excited to be a part of the AMA consortium,” she said, “and are looking forward to designing and implementing our project, which will enhance the current medical school curricula, particularly in the areas of communication, interdisciplinary collaboration and community-based activities.”

The UTRGV School of Medicine joins the 11 medical schools who were part of the first grant cycle, as well as up to 19 other medical schools, in the consortium, Terry said.

“Receiving this grant acknowledges that the UTRGV School of Medicine is establishing its position as a leader in productive change in medical education,” Terry said.

The grant begins in January 2016 and continues through 2018.

UTRGV Director of News and Internal Communications
UTRGV Director of Public Relations