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Let's start by talking about what really is different about Tulane's curriculum from almost every other residency program out there. Answers will be forthcoming, but first, a quick bit of word association: Lectures

What was your first mental image? Most likely, a PowerPoint presentation in a darkened room, a lecturer reading almost directly from the slides presented, and a state of semi-consciousness (particularly if you have just eaten a big lunch). This is the way things are usually done; unfortunately, it is a method that leaves listeners with retention of approximately 20 percent (and that's a generous estimate, according to best educational evidence) of what they have heard – not exactly an efficient way to spend your limited time as a resident.Read More

In 2010 Tulane embarked on a different course, implementing a new curriculum of team-oriented, case-based learning, now called WILD (or Thursday/Friday School as it is affectionately known by our residents). For three to four hours on Thursday afternoons, interns give their pagers to senior residents and participate in learning activities that emphasize active thought, use of learning resources, and practice of best evidence-based medicine. Working in teams of six or seven interns, they assess clinical scenarios, compete with each other in game-formatted challenges, and interact with faculty brought in to discuss salient points from the day's material.

On Friday afternoons, senior residents take a break from their clinical duties to experience their own version of WILD.  Resident Friday School sessions are geared toward higher-level management issues, and include time to review information from the subject material that will be likely to appear on pediatric board exams.

In WILD, learning takes place in an environment of protected time, with no interruptions for answering pages and no need to leave early to attend to ward matters.  The curriculum is built around the content specifications for the Americal Board of Pediatrics certification exam (a 300-page list of everything the APB wants you to know for the exam), and is staggered in such a way that all topics are covered in an 18-month period, so that topics are reviewed several times throughout your residency.  It is supplemented with clinically-relevant information, while we want you to be prepared for your boards, we also want you to know how to care for your patients, not just how to take an exam.

The results?  When we first adopted WILD in 2010, pre- and post-surveys of residents who participated in both models were overwhelmingly positive - of the roughly 90% of residents who responded to the survey, 100% preferred the new methodology.  Our Associate Program Director, Dr. Jessice DeBord, presented our WILD curriculum at the Pediatric Academic Society (PAS) conference in May 2013, and at the Pediatric Excellence Across the Continuum (PEEAS) conference in October 2013.  Dr. DeBord is working towards standardizing this innovative curriculum to make it available to residency programs nationwide.

One of the additional benefits we have experienced since adopting WILD: It is clear when one walks into the classroom on Thursdays and Fridays that our interns and residents enjoy the chance to see all of their classmates in a predictable way each week; the impact on class solidarity and morale has been significant and visible. 

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