Aesculapian Report

Daniel McBride (SOM Class of 2020)  

Faculty, students, and administrators gathered March 26 in the Gallery Room at Tomas Bistro for the Aesculapian Society’s Excellence in Teaching Awards Banquet. Each year, outstanding faculty in the clinical and basic sciences are honored at the event.  (See below for this year’s recipients.)  

Though the banquet’s recognition of outstanding faculty has become an important facet of the society’s operations, it is not the organization’s primary purpose. Founded in 1963, the Aesculapian Society is a student organization that provides a formal mechanism for student feedback about the curriculum to enhance the educational, medical, and scientific standards of the School of Medicine. 

Throughout the academic year, students are sent surveys about their recently completed classes or clinical rotations. Aesculapian Society members, who analyze the resulting data, compose the surveys. The data are compiled into reports and presented by Aesculapian members during meetings of the Course Evaluation Committee held each spring and fall. 

These data are used to fulfill requirements of the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME), the accrediting body for U.S. medical schools. For accreditation, medical schools must comply with 12 standards and 93 supporting elements—four standards and 31 supporting elements are curriculum oriented. 

“Many of the LCME requirements we monitor directly via questions on the Aesculapian survey,” said Dr. Richard DiCarlo, Senior Associate Dean for Faculty and Institutional Affairs. 

Just as the Aesculapians aim to continuously improve the medical education curriculum, so too must the society constantly work to improve itself. Recent years have seen the transition from paper to electronic surveys, decreasing the number of survey question to improve response rates, and the initiation of mid-course feedback to course directors. 

This mid-course feedback began under the direction of Dr. Robin English, Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Medical Education, as a way to monitor major changes to the second-year curriculum. Beginning with the Class of 2019, second-year students at the School of Medicine now learn a systems-based curriculum. During the past two years, designated course representatives from the society have met weekly or bimonthly with course directors to discuss their classmates’ kudos and concerns submitted via electronic comment box. 

These regular meetings have helped to foster a relationship between Aesculapian members and the faculty, English said. Because of their utility in quickly identifying and resolving problems, these more regular meetings are now being explored for use during the first- and third-year curricula as well. 

The reports produced by the Aesculapian Society have been responsible for “major changes” to the courses, according to Dr. Michael Levitzky, Chair of the Course Evaluation Committee. Levitzky, director of the medical school’s basic science curriculum, has reviewed the society’s work since he joined the committee in 1979. 

“It gives a formality to student course reviews, and that can be very helpful,” Levitzky said. “It’s a very valuable resource.”
But the society provides more than a framework for improving the medical school’s curriculum. It also serves as a powerful experience to its members. According to Aesculapian Society President Paul Kepper, class of 2018, his work with the society has changed his career goals. 

“My involvement as a liaison between the students and faculty provided unique insight into the development and maintenance of medical curricula,” Kepper wrote in an email. “I hope to remain in academic medicine as a result and plan to remain involved in teaching medical students and residents throughout my career.” 

  Faculty Member  Department 
L1 Fall Semester  Dr. William Swartz  Cell Biology and Anatomy 
L1 Spring Semester  Dr. Patricia Molina  Physiology 
L2 Fall Semester  Dr. Joy Sturtevant  Microbiology, Immunology and Parisitology 
L2 Spring Semester  Dr. Taniya De Silva  Internal Medicine – Endocrinology 
L3 Intern  Dr. Antoinette Laurel  Psychiatry 
L3 Resident/Fellow  Dr. Courtney Cox  Pediatrics 
L3 Staff  Dr. Chelsey Sandlin  Pediatrics 
L4 Intern  Dr. Christopher Brown  Surgery 
L4 Resident/Fellow  Dr. Alykhan Lalani  Vascular Surgery 
L4 Staff  Dr. Randy Roig  PM&R 
Junior Faculty  Dr. Shane Sanne  Internal Medicine 
Department    Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation