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In 2009 the Vice-Dean of Undergraduate Medical Education modified the 4th year curriculum by eliminating the required clerkship in Rehabilitation Medicine, and the Department was tasked with the creation of a four year curricular thread. While disappointing, this was a blessing in disguise. For years, we attempted to fit a great deal of content into an ever decreasing timespan, to increasingly disinterested students. Our teachers were also burned out with the sheer volume of students.

Through collaboration with other course directors, we inserted content where it fit the developmental needs of the students. We were also able to introduce students to physiatric role models earlier in training. The curriculum development had one guiding goal: “Students should be able to explain how a person’s functional abilities intersect with environment and societal roles to affect quality of life. “

In the preclinical years, we run or participate in physical exam workshops, have introduced the usage of the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) to the two year longitudinal interprofessional education program; found ways to increase required exposure of students to patients with a wide range of disabilities, are present in the anatomy lab, and run a panel on access to care for individuals with disabling conditions. In addition, faculty members are involved in small group experiences with the students in the doctoring course. In the clinical years, we have required curriculum in the internal medicine, neurology, and family medicine rotations; and also run a required half day devoted to chronic pain.

For more interested students there is both a 3rd year and a 4th year elective in Rehabilitation Medicine, and an interdepartmental outpatient sub-internship in Musculoskeletal Medicine. None of this would be possible without the support and guidance of the Vice-Dean, the Department Chair, and the sustained collaboration with course directors.