In 2010, the Duke University School of Medicine and Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre (KCMC) received a five year, $10 million grant for the Medical Education Partnership Initiative (MEPI). Funded by the United States government, the grant has allowed Duke and KCMC to use advanced technology to assist in the delivery of medical education.
This innovative approach was conducted at Kilimanjaro Christian Medical University (KCMU) College in Moshi, Tanzania. In order to integrate technology into the classroom, DGHI and KCMC recognized that it would also require a transformation of the culture of teaching, and that changes must be implemented incrementally.
This transformation took shape in three primary ways: increased use of IT learning, reduction of student dependency on faculty, and increased exposure to hands-on learning. The grant allowed the KCMU College to install a fiber-optic cable to the campus, equip a student computer laboratory with 220 iMac computers and supply each student with a personal tablet. Students now have access to the learning materials ahead of class, which Duke and KCMC found increases team-based learning, decreases the student’s dependency on the faculty members, and has improved final exam scores.
Duke and KCMC also created opportunities for students to gain hands-on experience in a wet laboratory and an anatomy lab. The initiative created a wet laboratory equipped with information and technology services. Students can now learn the vital techniques needed in this world of rapid diagnostic tests through practice of examining specimens through a microscope. This new laboratory enhances the teaching process and maximizes student participation in the learning process. The integration of technology in the anatomy lab allowed the faculty member to provide instruction to the entire class at once through the use of display monitors and the recording of classes. These improvements encourage increased student collaborations as well as decrease the redundancy of information supplied by the professor to students.
To further transform the learning culture at KCMC, the students were encouraged to translate their in-class learning into projects or novel innovations. The initiative established Mentored Research Training Projects which trained KCMC faculty to provide quality mentorship to students on a competitive basis and assist the students in presenting their projects at an annual symposium. In the first three cycles, the program supported 38 research projects and engaged 110 medical students. The initiative also established the Medical Education Innovation Project program, which encouraged student and faculty to propose novel educational innovations to implement at KCMC. The winning programs were supported with up to $50,000.
In its partnership with Duke, KCMC is one of 13 Sub-Saharan African medical schools granted with MEPI funding. This initiative provides a sustainable solution to the challenges in medical education by awarding the grants to the African institutions, creating accountability and a sense of leadership. Through the funding, MEPI is improving medical education, increasing retention of graduates and faculty, creating a collaborative culture among the community, building capacity through focusing on locally relevant research, and ensuring that each intervention is sustainable.
The success of this initiative is reflected in the 32 published articles in the Academic Medicine supplement, detailing innovative solutions funded by MEPI and the support of Fogarty International Center as a co-manager on half of the MEPI projects. These publications further the collaborative nature that MEPI has established, allowing each MEPI awarded institution to share its own experiences and learn from others. Duke and KCMC are among those institutions who have taken advantage of this opportunity to demonstrate their modernization of the college’s medical education through a publication in Academic Medicine this year.