Cornell pioneered comprehensive care curriculum in medical education

LETTER — Posted Feb. 14, 2005

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Regarding "Harvard med students to follow patient progress" (Article, Jan. 24): The recent curriculum changes at Harvard are an important step that will enhance student understanding of patient care.

But this is not an unheard-of innovation. More than 50 years ago, Cornell University Medical College introduced its Comprehensive Care and Teaching Program, under the direction of George G. Reader, MD.

I served as chief resident during the first year of the program. Students were assigned to follow patients for several months, from initial registration as outpatients to the time of discharge, including, when appropriate, transfer from outpatient to home care. Nursing and social work activities were integrated with medical care, and the program properly deserved its "comprehensive care" label. Dr. Reader collaborated with Renee Fox, PhD, in carrying out important sociologic research based on the program.

Many Cornell students gained valuable insights into the lives and care of their patients and families, as did I. All of us benefited greatly from this innovative program, under Dr. Reader's leadership. It is good to know that this significant approach to student education lives on at Harvard.

Peter Rogatz, MD, MPH, Roslyn Heights, N.Y.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2005/02/14/edlt0214.htm.

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