University of Massachusetts Medical School, School of Medicine, Office of Educational Affairs

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UMass Chan Medical School

The UMass Chan Medical School, the state’s first and only public medical school, was founded to provide affordable, quality medical education to state residents and to increase the number of primary care physicians practicing in underserved areas of the state. Their mission is to advance the health and well-being of the people of the Commonwealth and the world through pioneering developments in education, research, and health care delivery with their clinical partner, UMass Memorial Health. Its network of clinical care includes community-based physician practices, home health, hospice, rehabilitation, and behavioral health services.

A local, regional, and statewide health resource, the UMass Chan campus is comprised of the T.H. Chan School of Medicine, the Morningside Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, and the Tan Chingfen Graduate School of Nursing. The  UMass Chan mission is to advance the health and wellness of our diverse communities throughout Massachusetts and across the world by leading and innovating in education, research, health care delivery and public service. Federal and private research grants and contracts reached more than $290 million in fiscal year 2020, making UMMS one of the fastest-growing research institutions in the country. Over the last two decades, UMass Chan has drawn international acclaim as a research institution with a significant and dynamic capability in translational medicine, as recognized by its receipt of a prestigious, NIH-funded Clinical and Translational Sciences Award (CTSA).

Currently ranked in the top 10 percent nationwide in primary care, the T.H. Chan School of Medicine maintains the critical responsibility to provide students with an accessible, comprehensive, and personally rewarding medical education of the highest quality and one that optimally prepares them to excel as tomorrow’s physicians—caring, competent, productive, and fulfilled in their chosen career serving a diversity of patients, communities, and the health sciences.

The school is committed to training in the full range of medical disciplines, with an emphasis on practice in the primary care specialties, in the public sector and in underserved areas of Massachusetts. In 2020, 44% of the graduating students chose one of the primary care specialties, 22% chose surgical specialties and the others chose specialties including anesthesiology, dermatology, emergency medicine, pathology, radiology, radiation oncology and urology. As the sponsor of educational and service programs in health care throughout the Commonwealth, UMass Chan is distinguished from other medical schools by its unwavering support of public service, as exemplified by the breadth and depth of voluntary service and community activism of its students.

The T.H. Chan School of Medicine also has pre-matriculation programs that provide a pathway into the medical school class. The UMass Chan Medical School Baccalaureate MD (BaccMD) Pathway Program – executed in collaboration with the UMass campuses at Amherst, Boston, Dartmouth and Lowell – is a multiphase program that provides selected students from the UMass undergraduate campuses with the opportunity of provisional acceptance into T.H. Chan School of Medicine at UMass Chan Medical School. Students who are from racial or ethnic groups underrepresented in medicine nationally and in Massachusetts, who come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, or are first generation college graduates are eligible to apply to the BaccMD Program.  The Health Sciences Preparatory Program (HSPP) has two specific goals: to enhance student diversity in professional health sciences and to enhance the educational preparedness of students for participation in health sciences programs.  This HSPP contributes to these goals by providing a curriculum in which student are taught principles that are foundational to professional health sciences programs in medicine, nursing, or biomedical research. The HSPP comprises a year-long curriculum and training experience that combines instruction in the core academic subjects of biochemistry, physiology, and epidemiology/ biostatistics together with courses focused on professional skills development. 

Educational Innovations

The curriculum at UMass Chan has been recognized for the diverse clinical training of students, preparing them for career choices beyond medical school, whether in primary care or the medical specialties. In parallel with this exceptional clinical preparation, the institution’s fast-paced growth, leadership and worldwide recognition in health sciences research offers extraordinary research opportunities for students.

The school is currently undertaking a major curricular overhaul culminating with two tracks including a traditional four-year program leading to the MD degree and an accelerated three-year track; both are scheduled to be implemented in August 2022.  The new curriculum is a significant move away from traditional lecture-based delivery, opting instead for a multi-modal pedagogy best exemplified by small group sessions, flipped-classroom engagement, simulation, problem-based case work, and independent learning modules.  The mission of redesign is to develop a contemporary and innovative curriculum that promotes curiosity and inquiry, empowers learners, and enables future physician leaders to equitably and expertly care for diverse patient populations.

 A cornerstone to the new curriculum is the fully reimagined Pathways program which will allow all matriculated learners to longitudinally engage their interests culminating in a scholarly/capstone submission during their final year.  The Pathways program embodies the mission of the new program by delivering opportunities for leadership, research, education, ethics, humanities, data visualization and project design through the framework of a specific theme.

The curriculum aligns with six competencies for medical education: physician as professional, scientist, communicator, clinical problem solver, patient and community advocate, and person.

To support the curriculum, the school’s educational facilities create the “ideal learning environment” that will best prepare today’s students as tomorrow’s physicians. Dedicated facilities include anatomy labs with computer technology at each dissection table, classrooms and amphitheaters with campus-wide wireless connectivity; an integrated Teaching and Learning Center (iTLC) that serves as a cutting-edge “technology-infused” classroom for interactive small group learning, high resolution AV systems and computer-based testing; an on-campus interprofessional Center for Learning and Simulation (iCELS) with dedicated space for students to practice and learn techniques in clinical skills and physical diagnosis from expert faculty mentors; and seven student group study rooms, each dedicated to one Learning Community (see below). Additionally, students continue to benefit from a nationally recognized standardized patient program that serves all four years of the curriculum; comprehensive simulation resources including high-fidelity manikins, task trainers and computer-based “virtual” simulation dedicated to UMass Chan learners; and, finally, an expanding network of community-based faculty across Massachusetts whose practices provide students with an immersion experience in doctoring and the opportunity to develop their relationships with patients from the first days of medical school.

UMass Chan’s educational program has benefited in recent years from major investments in state-of-the-art educational technology and medical simulation and will continue to benefit from additional enhancements housed in the Albert Sherman Center, a research and education building on campus. The Sherman Center’s state-of-the-art educational resources includes the integrated Center for Experiential Learning and Simulation (iCELS), a 24,000-square-foot comprehensive, full-service simulation center, as well as a 10,000-square-foot facility dedicated to supporting the school’s Learning Communities.

In 2017, UMass Chan admitted the first cohort of students into the newly designated Population-based Urban and Rural Community Health (PURCH) track, which is located on the school’s first regional campus in Springfield, Massachusetts.  This track accepts approximately 25 students per year and is heralded as a major enhancement for medical students at UMass Chan.  The faculty at Baystate Health Systems is committed to providing the best possible education to this group of students and is actively engaged in all aspects of the medical school community.

The educational mission of the School of Medicine is further enhanced by 55 ACGME- accredited residency and fellowship programs; cooperative MPH and MBA degree programs through other UMass campuses; diverse community-based education programs across Massachusetts; outstanding achievements in clinical and translational research in the health sciences; and the Commonwealth Medicine division, dedicated to serving the state’s broad community of health care and service agencies. 


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