A group of 10 third-year medical students at McGovern Medical School will be selected to participate in a new longitudinal integrated clerkship (LIC) program focused on developing a continuity experience in an underserved population.

The LIC, set to begin May 2019, won’t replace existing clerkships but is intended to provide a new type of learning experience for students. Christine Ford, educational specialist in the Office of Educational Programs (OEP), said the LIC will be unlike traditional clerkships, taking place over a longer period of time, integrating multiple specialties, and following patients longitudinally. The clerkship will be held at Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital in a primarily outpatient setting and includes Internal Medicine, Obstetrics-Gynecology, and Pediatrics across a 24-week rotation, with shelf exams administered throughout.

The idea of the program had originally been put forth by Patricia Butler, M.D., Vice Dean for Educational Programs, and is funded by a small grant from the The University of Texas Kenneth I. Shine Academy of Health Science Education, Ford said.

“We have been developing new types of educational opportunities that will involve much more patient-advocacy programs and options that are relevant in general for a healthcare provider and their patients,” Ford said. “This is a big focus on providing more continuous care to underserved patient groups.”

Sara Holcombe, D.O., assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences and LIC program director, said similar clerkships have been used with good success at other medical schools and are a way to enhance the clinical  educational experience.

“For me, one of the biggest bonuses for students is the continuity in the patients they see and the faculty they interact with,” Holcombe said. “Many of the students in the current block clerkships feel that they don’t get to work with the same faculty and connect with them over that period of time and faculty feel the same way.”

With episodic care of patients and frequently changing faculty and students, it can be difficult for an in-depth evaluation to be given for students, Holcombe said. In the LIC, students will have assigned mentors throughout the entire clerkship and a consistent panel of patients. Students will be graded separately across each of the three integrated fields – Internal Medicine, Obstetrics-Gynecology, and Pediatrics – and will be required to meet the same set of skills as a normal clerkship, with comparable evaluations.

“When you take information and teach it over a longer period of time and keep coming back to it, people tend to retain that knowledge better,” Holcombe said.

Students must submit a statement of intent between about 300 to 400 words by Nov. 30, Ford said. Prospective students must be in good academic standing, but Holcombe emphasized that they are looking for students that would best fit the program.

“We want students who are interested in primary care and working with the underserved,” Holcombe said.

A series of interviews will be scheduled with applicants Dec. 12, but won’t be a typical Q&A-type process. Instead, applicants will be given scenarios in clinical environments that focus more on communication and how the student approaches various ethical and ambivalent situations.

The LIC will be administered by Ford; Holcombe; Mark Farnie, M.D., program director of the Internal Medicine/Pediatric Residency; Amalia Guardiola, M.D., assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics; and Allison Ownby, Ph.D., M.Ed. – assistant dean for Faculty and Educational Development. For more information about the LIC and how to apply, visit the program’s website here.