Introducing the Testimonial-Commentator Format to the Musculoskeletal Curriculum of Medical Students

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Medical Science Educator








curriculum; patient contact; Rheumatology


© 2011, Springer International Publishing. Principal Objective: We implemented a rheumatology curriculum redesign for second-year medical students. Goal: Our agenda was to emphasize patient contact in the support of learning. Methodology: A testimonial-commentator format of instruction, based on three seminars concerning rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus and psoriatic arthritis, was implemented and studied using a multiple case study design. All second year medical students were included in the protocol and none were excluded. Each seminar had two distinct parts. The first half was comprised of a patient’s personal testimonial followed by a pathophysiological overview of the disease. The second half of the seminar was comprised of an expert panel answering the student’s questions as submitted to the moderator during the intervening break. The students completed a post-session structured feedback form and a Likert favorability score (on a scale of 1 to 5 where 5 reflects preference for the new method of teaching). Results: Favorability scores averaged over 3.7, and thereby consistently supported the new teaching method over traditional didactics, seminar by seminar, and year by year, for each of three years. To compare the effectiveness of the new method of instruction versus the traditional method, analysis of the multiple choice final test comparing a control group (previous class) with the intervention group (current class) demonstrated no statistical difference year by year suggesting that the new method was non-inferior to the traditional method. Conclusion: Specific challenges to the implementation of our revised curriculum centered upon creating administrative-level acceptance of the redesigned course. Nevertheless, our curriculum redesign was met with enthusiasm and suffered no loss of learning as compared to traditional didactic methods.