Does curriculum management for osteopathic schools have a positive ROI?

Factors to consider

Since the AAMC granted AACOM members access to the AAMC Curriculum Inventory, we’ve heard from many osteopathic schools. At Altus, we’ve been involved in many curriculum management projects. While we have deep experience in making the curriculum management process run as smoothly as possible, it is never a minor undertaking. 

Previously, we shared a guide to curriculum management for schools of osteopathic medicine outlining the best practices for building a curriculum map that has value to its users. This still leaves a question on whether curriculum management, even with an expert approach, truly delivers a positive return on investment to an osteopathic school. Here we’ll review the costs and benefits of implementing a curriculum management process. 

Costs of beginning a curriculum management process

Curriculum management is essentially a refined process of planning and mapping, and then a cycle of reviewing and adjusting the curriculum to ensure your school’s objectives are being met and delivering on the best possible educational goals to students.  

To achieve this, you need a single curriculum database for the entire curriculum. There are still quite a few schools without this type of database. If this is your institution, the first step would be to collect all of the data and put it into a single database. The second step is to create the process for improvements and review the data established as the starting point. 

Here is a list of the costs associated with undertaking the start of a curriculum management system in order of our recommended timeline:   

  1. Select or create the curriculum database (will you use a software product to assist?)
  2. Set up the curriculum database (build the infrastructure that best empowers collection of your curriculum data)
  3. Collect all of the existing curriculum data you can (from faculty, course directors, objectives mappings, etc.)  
  4. Build out the new curriculum data or maps that are missing after initial collection 
  5. Establish the process for ongoing reviews and updates into the curriculum database  
  6. Determine your institution’s mapping standards for your curriculum database (which mapping lists are required, which are optional?) 
  7. Create faculty and staff development to reinforce the standards of data on curriculum that is submitted (e.g., when course objectives or curriculum updates are contributed)  
  8. Build the process by which faculty and contributors will submit curriculum updates, changes, and additions
  9. Finalize the review approval process for the curriculum and the reporting structure. 

For each of these steps outlined there are additional costs to consider: the cost of time spent by faculty and staff, any software costs, support costs, and more.

Benefits of undertaking a curriculum management process

Curriculum management has become a focus in professional programs like osteopathic medicine, not only because of the size and breadth of the curriculum, but also the value for continuous quality improvement and benchmarking curriculum data against other institutions. In addition, managing the ongoing evolution and changes of the curriculum as improvements are made is a key part of any considerations.   

Given the important role of curriculum management for osteopathic medical schools, avoiding out-of-date curriculum data, spotting the gaps in the curriculum, as well as the overlaps are crucial. Ignoring those areas can create frustration among the student body, cause blockers for accreditation success, and bring up friction with faculty.  

Here is a list of the major benefits associated with implementing a curriculum management system: 

  1. Easy accreditation reporting on curriculum management and delivery of your curriculum to the AAMC Curriculum Inventory.  
  2. Prevent overlaps in the curriculum where topics are covered too frequently and help avoid student complaints and wasted faculty efforts.  
  3. Avoid curriculum gaps and prevent them from occurring (as well as preventing accreditation issues, lower exam scores and course director complaints, etc.). 
  4. Better reaction time in addressing curriculum needs (for example, the time required to add in a newly trending content area and replace an outdated one).  
  5. Spend less time answering curriculum questions (e.g., around curriculum accreditation reporting, payments for faculty on curriculum delivery hours, etc.). 
  6. Less time needed for students and faculty searching for relevant curriculum data.  
  7. Spend less time investigating issues that arise with student assessments – with a curriculum management process and review you’re able to see quickly exactly what curriculum each student cohort completed, the associated activities, and review the data ahead of the next assessment or make adjustments to the curriculum for the next cohort.  

Once again for each benefit listed above, the value can be considered in terms of staff and faculty time-saved by an effective management system, additional hires possibly required and any associated cost savings.  

In conclusion

Is there a positive ROI on curriculum management? I think yes, especially when considering continuous quality improvement and the ability to quickly address student outcomes. Building the process to power curriculum review and how your learners are performing against it ensures you’re able to show the evidence of offering the best possible educational experience. That value alone can speak for itself. 

Learn more about curriculum management for osteopathic schools

To learn more about how your osteopathic school of medicine can make the transition to a comprehensive curriculum management process, book a demo of Altus.