In the literature the need for relevance in medical education and training has been stressed. In the last 40 years medical schools have been challenged to train doctors competent to respond to community health needs. In the mid-90s the University of Geneva Faculty of Medicine introduced an integrated medical curriculum. In this initiative a particular emphasis was put in introducing a 6-year longitudinal and multidisciplinary Community Health Program (CHP).
The aims of the present article are to describe the conception, elaboration and implementation of the CHP as well as its evolution over 15 years and the evaluation of its outcomes.
The CHP was at its origin elaborated by a small group of highly motivated teachers and later on developed by a multi-disciplinary group of primary care physicians, epidemiologists, public health and bio-ethics specialists, occupational health professionals, lawyers and historians. Evaluation of the program outcomes included educational innovations, new developments of the curriculum and interactions between students and the community.
The CHP learning objectives and teaching modalities were defined by the multi-disciplinary group in consensus meetings which triggered a collaborative spirit among teachers and facilitated further developments. The evaluation procedures allowed the monitoring of students’ satisfaction which remained high over the years, students’ active participation which decreased over time and success at certifying exams which was globally as good as in basic life sciences. The evaluation also assessed outcomes such as educational innovations, new developments of the curriculum and interactions between students and the community.