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Objectives: The College of Medicine at Gulf Medical University (GMU), Ajman, United Arab Emirates, was subjected to a curricular reform, which shifted the institution from a traditional curriculum to a hybrid, studentcentred, integrated curriculum. There are no previous studies analysing the consequences of such a curricular modification on the educational environment (EE). Therefore, this study aimed to analyse the EE of a pioneer cohort of the innovative curriculum over their five-year course of study. Methods: This prospective longitudinal study was conducted between September 2009 and September 2013 at the College of Medicine. The Dundee Ready Education Environment Measure questionnaire was completed by a pioneer cohort of students at the start of each academic session for five consecutive years. The mean overall, subscale and individual statement scores were evaluated using the Kruskal-Wallis and Wilcoxon-rank sum tests. Results: A total of 178 responses were collected (response rate: 90.4%). The mean overall score throughout the five years of study was 130/200. A significant difference in the scores (P <0.05) was observed as the students proceeded through the course. The overall and subscale scores were significantly higher in the first and final years of study. Analysis of the statements recognised the medical knowledge of the teachers’ and students’ awareness of empathy and social interactions as persistent strengths of the college over the entire course of study. A curricular overload, a want for support systems for stressed students, students’ waning interest levels and assessment strategies emerged as areas that warranted further attention. Conclusion: The pioneer cohort of the new curriculum rated their EE as positive throughout their five years of study at GMU. An examination of individual statements revealed the programme’s strengths and areas for improvement for the institution.
Keywords: Curriculum; Environment; Longitudinal Study; Medical Students; Perception; Undergraduate Medical Education; United Arab Emirates.