Stanford University School of Medicine has developed a new, industry-funded model for the continuing education of physicians that aims to improve patient care while ensuring that corporate donors do not exert influence over the curriculum.
In September 2008, Stanford became the first medical school in the country to limit industry influence on continuing medical education programs by accepting industry support only for a broad range of activities, not for specific, designated programs. The school then began looking at alternative educational models that could involve industry but would be guided by the needs of physician/learners, rather than by commercial interests, said Robert Jackler, MD, the school’s associate dean for CME.
“We believe that the education of practicing physicians should be based solely on the best scientific evidence presented in a fair and balanced way, ” said Jackler, professor and chair of otolaryngology. “Unfortunately what’s happened is that the partnership with industry has led CME astray, to the point where the curricula are too often biased toward business interests.
“So we set out to see if industry would be willing to partner with us to create a high-quality curriculum, under the condition that Stanford faculty would choose the topics and design the curriculum independent of the relationship with industry, ” he added. “We sought not to prevent partnerships with industry, but rather to redefine it.”
Under the new model, Stanford will use a new, $3 million, three-year grant from the pharmaceutical company Pfizer to design and implement a novel curriculum that uses a variety of advanced technologies and teaching methods, including simulated and immersive learning tools. The Pfizer grant comes with no conditions, and the company will not be involved in developing the curriculum.
The overall goal of the program is to improve patient care and outcomes, with a focus on specific patient-care issues identified by Stanford physicians, Jackler said.