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Medical Education
Bridges Curriculum

Students Focus on Continued Learning and Wellness During ARCH Week (April 7, 2017)

On April 3, first-year medical students at UCSF began the spring ARCH week between Foundations 1 foundational sciences, inquiry and clinical microsystems experiences.

The Assessment, Reflection, Coaching, and Health (ARCH) component of the curriculum – occurring four times throughout Foundations 1 – includes activities designed to help students evaluate their progress, provide a time for personal wellbeing, and allow opportunities to identify new areas of career growth. 

“Students are guided to reflect upon how they have progressed in multiple competencies and identify opportunities for growth. They work with their coaches to refine strategies to integrate their knowledge, skills, and attitudes in their career development toward overall professional competence,” says Karen Hauer, MD, PhD, Associate Dean of Assessment at UCSF. “ARCH weeks give students time to meet with their coaches to discuss their progress, reflect on their relative strengths and weaknesses, and develop learning plans.”

This spring, students were invited to engage in wellness and personal development activities such as hiking, cooking, improv lessons, knitting, mindfulness meditation, and yoga. And since this ARCH week houses the spring Clinical Microsystems Clerkship (CMC) clinical skills exam, activities centered around relaxation and wellness were well timed. 

Other sessions furthered their community building skills and saw students learn to work and problem solve in teams.

"Activities during ARCH week gave me time to not only engage in the wellbeing activities, such as cooking and running with classmates, but also to reflect on my progress so far and identify areas I can advance my goals as a medical student over the coming months with regard to medical exams and biomedical device research,” said first-year student Sravani Kondapavulur.

For Sravani and other students, the efforts of UCSF ARCH Week director Catherine Lomen-Hoerth, MD, PhD, and ARCH Week coordinator Stephanie Kaner were instrumental.

Medical education’s Technology Enhanced Education (TEE) group used ARCH week to obtain students’ feedback on the use of virtual reality in the curriculum, to better understand how new technologies can help shape and further students’ learning. Hosted in the medical library’s Makers Lab, TEE staff including Instructional Designers Megan O’Connor and Greg Gadwood facilitated students’ ‘tours’ of virtual reality technologies being explored at UCSF for applications to potentially train medical students in the near future.

“Bridges is transforming how students learn and apply medicine, and uses innovative technology to deliver the curriculum,” says Christian Burke, Director of Technology Innovations for UCSF’s TEE team. “We are exploring how virtual reality can enhance the way students learn anatomy, for example, by providing an active exploration of the body in three dimensions that includes visuals and sounds.” 

Burke notes that virtual reality is a strong platform for simulation to experience clinics and workplace settings, and to practice procedures.  “We can recreate environments and students can practice before going into the real-world hospital and clinic.  For example, learners will be able to review surgery procedures before starting clerkships, or use ‘embodied learning’ which allows students to experience what their patients are experiencing with healthcare concerns. These embodied learning experiences can enhance how medical students deliver treatments to patients.”

Learn more about ARCH Weeks.