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Defining and addressing outcome objectives is a crucial process in medical science and education. One outcome objective of the Physiology/ Pharmacology Department at Des Moines University is to prepare students to successfully complete Part I of the national licensure examination. This study assesses the effectiveness of the departmental curriculum in helping the students achieve success on Part I of the licensure examination. Standardized discipline examinations were used as the comprehensive final examination for the physiology and pharmacology courses for the classes of 1997, 1998, and 2002 through 2005. The results were assessed by class year and specific topic area as determined by an item keyword description. Student performance on Part I of the National Podiatric Board examination was assessed for each class. Podiatric medical students’ performance tended to be similar to or slightly lower than that of the national cohort on the discipline examinations. Topic analysis revealed areas of weakness, which were then addressed in the second-year courses. Student performance on Part I was generally acceptable yet showed marked improvement with the curricular interventions and changes. External assessments provide us with an unbiased means to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the curriculum through student performance and to make appropriate adjustments to enhance students’ success. (J Am Podiatr Med Assoc 96(5): 448–454, 2006)
Corresponding author: Edward P. Finnerty, PhD, Physiology/Pharmacology Department, Des Moines University–Osteopathic Medical Center, 3200 Grand Ave, Des Moines, IA 50312.