Message from Dean Mark Richardson

Dean RichardsonWhat will society need from physicians and health care professionals over the next 20 to 30 years? In 1994, the OHSU School of Medicine answered that question by implementing a major revision of our M.D. curriculum. The curriculum balanced the scientific basis of medicine with early clinical experience, and emphasized independent, life-long learning and problem-solving skills.

Our focus on what was then a cutting-edge approach to education earned us a national reputation. Over the past two decades, however, the external landscape continued to evolve and now is doing so at an ever-faster pace: health care reform, changing delivery models, a new focus on the rapid clinical applications of research, and an explosion of information technology and associated tools – from smart phones to the electronic health record. It's again time to ask (and answer) the same types of questions.

Academic medicine is at a cross-road; while there are many challenges before us, there are an equal number of new opportunities. One of those opportunities is a reconsideration of our M.D. curriculum to ensure it matches the external evolution and is structured to produce graduates who will lead a transformation of our state and nation's health care systems.

In response, the OHSU School of Medicine is transforming our Undergraduate Medical Education (UME) curriculum, while retaining the best of its current design. Broadly, our goals are to prepare health care professionals for the changing health care delivery and discovery environments, and to do so in ways that continue placing emphasis on self-directed and also include life-long and interprofessional education. Equally important, our learning environment can – must – evolve to embrace the abilities and preferences of contemporary students through the creative use of technology and by seizing the educational opportunities newly opened up by this technology.



Some of you have asked me if this transformation initiative is spurred by the move to the Collaborative Life Sciences Building. The short answer is no – our move to the new building does not mandate curriculum transformation. However, the move does provide a natural opportunity to evolve in this important area, and lends momentum.


students-group1I am excited about this initiative and our success depends on the full involvement of our faculty and students in this initiative. Curriculum transformation also presents a good opportunity to connect with our alumni and other partners, including clerkship sites and health systems for example, as well as our many OHSU partners, to bring multiple perspectives into our planning process.

This process will involve many people and take several years – and be one that can have a constructive effect on much of what we do in the School of Medicine. Just as we now look back on 1994 as a pivotal moment in our M.D. program, 20 or 30 years from now, this will also be seen as a moment when we focused our commitment and knowledge on the future and once again took a leadership role in education and, by extension, met the health care needs of Oregonians.


For those of you on campus, we've set up an internal news site to share information and gather input about our education mission generally, and about this initiative, specifically. I welcome your thoughts on this topic.

Best Regards,

Mark Richardson

Mark Richardson, M.D., MBA
Dean, OHSU School of Medicine
President, Faculty Practice Plan