Making History

HMX launches new collaboration to transform access to medical education

Screen capture from HMX Immunology course.

Starting this summer, Harvard Medical School will offer online education to incoming first-year students at Meharry Medical College, one of the nation’s oldest and largest historically black academic health science centers. 

The coursework, part of Harvard Medical School’s innovative online learning program HMX Fundamentals, offers access to the knowledge and acumen of some of Harvard Medical School’s top physician-scientists and focuses on foundational subjects deemed fundamental for all frontline clinicians, not just specialists. 

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This program marks the first collaboration between HMX and an historically black institution. Incoming first-year medical students at Meharry will have the opportunity to take online courses in genetics and physiology during the summer before arriving on campus, in preparation for their rigorous classes in the Fall. 

“We want to use this unique educational material to inspire budding physicians and build on their passion for biomedical science,” said David Roberts, HMS dean for external education. “Incoming Harvard Medical School students have already used the courses to prepare for the demanding curriculum ahead of them, and the results and feedback show that this prep really does make a difference.”

“This historic partnership with Harvard Medical School marks Meharry’s transition to an active-learning model that will prepare our students for the innovative health care delivery of the future,” said Veronica Mallett, Meharry’s senior vice president for health affairs and dean of the Meharry School of Medicine. “Meharry offers a world-class medical education, and including Harvard’s state-of-the-art HMX Fundamentals program demonstrates our commitment to include the most cutting-edge teaching methods in our new curriculum.”

HMX courses are currently offered to students at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, as well as through institutional partnerships around the globe in which students use the material to prepare for rigorous medical-training programs. In addition to Meharry, current HMX partners include Khon Kaen University in Thailand, 57357 Children’s Cancer Hospital in Egypt, La Salle University in Mexico, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine at Florida Atlantic University, and the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

The program features real-life case studies and offers an immersive experience, veering away from traditional passive learning and slide show presentations. Students are exposed to actual medical scenarios filmed in clinical settings, such as intensive care units and cardiac catheterization labs at Harvard-affiliated hospitals, allowing them to work through real-life applications of concepts.

The idea is to provide foundational knowledge in meaningful context that is relevant to learners.

Each course features an interactive forum where students can ask questions about the content and receive expert feedback.

“We’re building a unique learning experience around topics that are pivotal for the future of medicine and patient care,” said Michael Parker, associate dean for online learning and faculty director of HMX. “Reaching learners in their preparation for the demands of a challenging curriculum will be crucial to their success.”

In a marked departure from traditional lecture-based passive learning, the program’s courses include real-life scenarios that present complex topics in relevant clinical context.

“It is exciting to see how these innovative approaches are redefining the way we teach medicine at schools around the country,” said Edward Hundert, dean for medical education at Harvard Medical School.

The External Education program at Harvard Medical School is also expanding access to the HMX platform through a series of licensing arrangements with other institutions within the United States and internationally to help students everywhere adapt to the changing world of biomedical education, research and care delivery.