Methods: A 38-question survey was disseminated to microbiology course directors and curriculum deans at 142 U.S. LCME accredited medical schools between August and October 2014. Survey questions focused on course leadership, curricular structure, course content, and educator perceptions about microbiology education locally and nationally. Descriptive statistics and open coding were used to analyze data.
Results: One-hundred and four (73%) of 142 schools completed the survey. Ninety-four (90%) of schools identified a course director, of which 48% were led by microbiologists alone, 23% by a microbiologist and clinician, 20% clinicians only, and 8% laboratory medicine physician alone or with a clinician or microbiologist. Among the 40 clinician course directors, 79% were infectious diseases (ID) physicians. An ID physician was involved in some capacity in 95% of courses. At 53% of schools, the curricula was organized in a single block or course, 26% as a brief intro course with the rest integrated into other curricula, and 19% fully integrated into other curricula. Areas of emerging importance such as antimicrobial stewardship, global health, infection control, and the microbiome, were addressed at 66%, 65%, 64%, and 47% of institutions respectively. Respondents reported the following concerns: reduced teaching hours (n=25), poor integration of microbiology into other courses (n=15), emphasis of basic science over clinically relevant topics (n=10).
Conclusion: Pre-clinical medical student microbiology teaching in the U.S. is led predominantly by microbiologists. There is variability regarding curriculum structure, but with a clear trend towards integrating microbiology as a theme within other courses. Top challenges identified include: (1) adjusting to decreasing teaching hours, (2) integrating microbiology into other areas of the curriculum, and (3) appropriate focus on clinical topics. A multidisciplinary consortium involving microbiologist and clinicians may be an effective way to address challenges and develop best practices at a national level.
B. Schwartz, None