Our Priorities New Curriculum Content

America’s health professions schools have provided their undergraduate and graduate students with a grounding in science through courses such as anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, pathology, pharmacology, and microbiology. Practicing in today’s health care system requires that health professions students develop knowledge and skills beyond the basic sciences and technical elements of clinical care.

Expanding Beyond Science

We support projects to devise, test, and implement new curriculum content in health professions schools and training sites across the country. These initiatives are helping equip students and trainees with the skills and knowledge that are fundamental to providing high quality care today.

Building New Skills and Expertise

Medical, nursing, pharmacy, and other health professions schools are expanding their curricula to teach:

  • Patient safety and quality improvement.
  • Professionalism. Professional standards and the privilege of self-regulation include developing skills in lifelong learning and values such as empathy, compassion, and social justice.
  • Social determinants of health. Resources to meet daily needs including housing, food, and access to education, jobs, and health care have a significant influence on the health of the population.
  • Population health. Public health issues underlie important health problems for the population. Health disparities represent an important priority in addressing the health of the population.
  • Health policy and economics. Understanding how health care is organized and financed is essential.

Overcoming Hurdles to Implementation

Logistical and philosophical challenges involved in integrating new content into existing curricula include:

  • Justifying space in already full, well-established curricula.
  • Bringing together students from different professions. Interprofessional education is a central strategy for teaching quality and safety, but must address a number of logistical hurdles ranging from aligning student instructional calendars to locating appropriate physical space for teaching and learning.
  • Finding and developing faculty to teach the new curricula. These subjects were not part of the educational tradition of current professors and administrators; and so developing the faculty as teachers on these topics is an important priority.
  • Changing institutional culture. The best patient care environments will become the best environments for teaching and learning.

Learn about promising models we’ve funded

An Education and Practice Collaboration to Relieve Pain and Suffering

To equip the future healthcare workforce with the skills they need to effectively relieve pain and suffering, the UC Davis Health System set out to develop interprofessional pain-management modules for pre-licensure students.

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Working as a Team to Improve Diagnosis

A new curriculum aims to reduce medical errors.

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Assessing and Improving Medical School Curriculum

Reimagining the third-year clerkship to better prepare the doctors of the future.

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Preparing Students to Face Refugee Health Challenges

How can soon-to-be-doctors play a part in helping refugees in their community?

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Task Force on Medical Professionalism in an Organizational Age

A new Institute on Medicine as a Profession (IMAP) taskforce is identifying best practices for preserving a culture of medical professionalism as more physicians transition from solo, self-employed practitioners to hospital or group practice.

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Retooling Health Professions Education for Quality and Safety

The Institute for Healthcare Improvement is at the forefront of a changing culture in medical education, one that has shifted from training students in silos to interprofessional models that stress the value of teamwork for better patient care and safety.

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Integrating Shared Decision-Making and Interprofessional Education

Three years ago, with support from the Macy Foundation, Prof. Glyn Elwyn, a family doctor and researcher, and his colleagues at Dartmouth College set out to teach medicine, nursing and physician assistant students how to better engage patients in health care decision-making.

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News and Commentary


Being Good to Medicine

What is the fundamental role of the humanities and arts in the training and development of physicians?

Simulation in PhD Programs (SiPP) to Prepare Nurse Scientists as Social Justice Advocates

Macy Faculty Scholar Coretta Jenerette, PhD, RN, AOCN, CNE, FAAN on preparing nurses to be effective advocates for their patients.

Addiction Medicine Fellowships: The Fight Against the Opioid Crisis

Tim Brennan, MD, MPH, Vice President for Medical and Academic Affairs at The Addiction Medicine Foundation, on the importance of trained physicians in helping to stem the opioid crisis.

Web Conference Recording: Improving Environments for Learning in the Health Professions

On July 18, the Macy Foundation hosted a web conference to discuss new recommendations on improving environments for learning in the health professions.


Read Improving Environments for Learning in the Health Professions

David M. Irby, PhD, chaired the April 2018 Macy Conference whose proceedings are recorded in this report, Improving Environments for Learning in the Health Professions.

Read Report from a Convening of Grantees on Educating and Training to Professionalism

The report summarizes a convening of the 19 grantees who received funding from the national initiative, Educating and Training to Professionalism, co-sponsored by the Macy Foundation. Watch what some of the grantees...

Read Conference Summary: Improving Environments for Learning in the Health Professions

In April 2018, the Macy Foundation hosted a conference to identify the elements of optimal health professions learning environments and recommend actions needed to better align them with patient needs and societal...

Read Special Report of the President

In a new special report Macy looks back at ten years of progress and accomplishments, and spotlights the people and ideas that will continue to bring about change in health professions education reform.