Johns Hopkins Gazette: May 20, 1996

Programs Yield
First Graduates

Karen Fay (SCS) and
Mike Field, Staff Writer
Special to
The Gazette
Some are cops. Some are docs. Both groups will be pioneers at Hopkins' 118th commencement ceremonies May 22. As graduates of two of the university's most innovative new curricula, both groups leave the university carefully prepared to meet the educational demands of the coming millennium.

Janet Stabile is one of the grads who didn't expect to be there in the first place. "I almost withdrew my name from consideration earlier in the process when I found out how many high-ranking officers had applied," said the Baltimore County police detective sergeant of the School of Continuing Studies' new Police Executive Leadership Program. "I guess I didn't believe I would actually be attending until I was sitting in the first class."

Stabile is one of 24 officers from Washington, D.C., and nearly every county in Maryland nominated to participate in the program's inaugural class, graduating this week with master of applied behavioral science degrees. The new program is the longest and most thorough law enforcement executive program in the country. Students--all of whom are mid- to executive-level police officers--attend class two Fridays and Saturdays a month, proceeding through the courses as a cohort.

"Members of the class shared their expertise to help one another in a wide range of areas, from dealing with human resource problems to solving active crimes," said PELP director Sheldon Greenberg. "On numerous occasions, students in the program would bring up real issues they were facing in their departments, and, without hesitation, other members of the class would relate solutions they had applied to similar problems.

"For example, when one police department mentioned that its investigators lacked experience in a certain type of criminal investigation, several other departments came together to immediately provide a seminar to enhance the investigators' skills level," he said.

PELP's course work is not typical of most law enforcement executive programs. During the first year of the program, officers received more than 108 hours of ethics training. Most high-level programs, said Greenberg, only provide police officers with one or two hours.

"This program has helped our jurisdictions to regionalize and support each other," said Stabile, who works in her department's Community Resource division. "This wasn't a typical class, where students sit with one group the first day of class and never get to know anyone else. We got to know each other personally and discovered individual strengths and weaknesses."

The interaction in the class allowed for a new level of cooperation to develop among officers in various jurisdictions. As a result, specific crimes were solved and creative solutions to problems were found. "On the first day, we were told the program would help us grow personally and expand our comfort zones," Stabile said. "It has. I've improved my leadership skills and started to think more 'out of the box.' I now have 23 mentors I can call on."

While the Police Executive Leadership Program is one of Hopkins' newest curricula, the School of Medicine is one of its oldest and most respected. But that didn't keep faculty in the school from trying to improve upon it.

"It wasn't that we felt anything was broken," said Catherine DeAngelis, vice dean for academic affairs and faculty and one of the key players in the move to reinvent the classic medical school curriculum. "It's just not the Hopkins way to wait till it's broken. We knew we wanted to prepare physicians to practice in the 21st century. To do that, we thought some changes needed to be made."

Chief among those changes, said DeAngelis, is the "interdigitation of basic science and clinical practice" in which sciences such as biochemistry and cell biology are related to systems which are in turn related to real living human beings. From day one, Hopkins medical students now spend some time in clinical experiences, as opposed to the old system that taught theory for the first two years and introduced practice thereafter.

Graduating medical student Raymonda Stevens said the new curriculum was one of the things that brought her to Hopkins in the first place. "I felt like finally they've got it all together," she said. "This will be a coherent way to approach the material and teach medicine." Although any new program is bound to have occasional glitches, by and large Stevens felt the changes fulfilled the expectations she had when she arrived.

"I remember working in small groups as one of the real strengths of the program," she said. "You begin to learn that everyone has different approaches to the same material, and just seeing how those ideas differ can be very enlightening."

One of the boldest experiments in the new medical curriculum is The Physician and Society, a four-year longitudinal course that blends lectures and small-group discussions to look at medicine from a global perspective encompassing everything from ethics to the history of medicine.

"We are a lot more interested in teaching the basic concepts of medical thinking, and this course was created to be the appropriate vehicle," DeAngelis said. "Today's heresies are tomorrow's dogmas and vice versa, so we need to educate physicians who are both flexible and responsive."

Currently, DeAngelis is at work on a textbook, The Johns Hopkins Curriculum for the 21st Century, that will lay out the theory and practice of the new medical school curriculum. "Not a week goes by that I don't get requests for information," she said. "This is a dynamic curriculum, not unlike the human body. It's in a stable functional state, but subtly changing all the time."

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