Alumni Weekend 2013 Recap


More than 500 School of Medicine alumni and their guests came back to the Medical Campus on May 3-4 to attend the School’s annual Alumni Weekend, some for the first time in more than 50 years.

After a campus welcome and Grand Rounds, alumni listened to a group of faculty members and medical students who discussed new instructional technology and its impact on the experience of medical students at BUSM today.

“Sometimes when alumni come back to the medical school  for the first time and learn that students don’t use microscopes anymore, they stare in disbelief,” said Jean Ramsey, MD, associate dean for alumni affairs, who hosted the presentation. “It can’t be a medical school without microscopes, they say.”

Deborah Vaughan, PhD, professor of anatomy and neurobiology and assistant dean for admissions, shared how BUSM is using technology that is changing the way students learn today. “It is often said that technology isolates students, and what we are doing here at the medical school is making sure that we take advantage of the technology to help the students work in teams,” said Vaughan, this year’s winner of the Metcalf Cup and Prize for Excellence in Teaching.

Vaughan demonstrated how students and faculty use the online learning management system, Blackboard, to share educational resources online. Laptops are used during class, to take exams, and in place of microscopes in the lab. Lectures are recorded and presented online for students who miss class or can be used as a resource to clarify material. She highlighted technological tools for clinical training including robotic teachers, affectionately called SimMan and friends. These patient simulators are programmed for a variety of situations including emergency care for students to practice their clinical skills.

“I was very unprepared when I got here because everyone had told me that I was going to spend every second of my life studying,” said Mauro Caffarelli, a second-year student at BUSM. “That turned out to be very inaccurate. The way we learn here is tremendously efficient.”

Doug Hughes, MD, associate dean for academic affairs, also explained plans to expand the medical school curriculum to a global platform by implementing a third- year pediatric clerkship option for BUSM students in the U.S. Virgin Islands, which began this June.

“In addition, we have been chosen by the AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) to pilot a new global program, the Global Health Learning Opportunity,” said Hughes.  “This program will help facilitate our fourth-year students doing electives globally and will allow fourth-year medical students from other countries to do electives more easily at BUSM. Our students can choose from 15 international medical schools in their fourth year, and we will be bringing international students to our campus each year. The goal is to create a diverse, rich, global experience for our students both in travel and also on campus.”

In addition to reunion dinners, the annual meeting and banquet of the Alumni Association, BUSM alumni attended a presentation on the extraordinary history of the medical school. Tours of the medical campus highlighted the new classrooms, expanded research facilities, the Alumni Medical Library and the new Medical Student Residence. The weekend ended in a night of dinner, dancing, and award presentations, recognizing Robert Golden, ’79, and Andrew Levey ’76, as 2013 Distinguished Alumni.