Curriculum

The curriculum is an evolving product of prolonged and continuing study, by both faculty and students, of the present and probable future course of medical science and medical practice, and of the ways in which medical education can be kept abreast of this course. Our students enter medical school with diverse backgrounds and interests and upon graduation undertake a wide variety of careers. The curriculum provides the basic knowledge and skills essential for their further professional development. Modern medical education can no longer hope to be comprehensive; it must be selective. Yet students must develop facility in the understanding and use of several related technical languages: those of anatomy, chemistry, physiology and clinical medicine. They must share responsibility for the care of the patient. They also must learn how these areas of endeavor are interrelated, how the organization and needs of society influence the methods of providing medical care, and how new knowledge is acquired and old knowledge re-evaluated.

The curriculum includes a core experience based upon a sequence of courses that introduces students to the many domains and disciplines of medicine. The principles, methods of investigation, problems and opportunities in each of the major disciplines of medical science and medical practice are presented in such a way as to help students select the career best suited to their abilities and goals.

In the final year of the medical school curriculum, the required elective program helps students to decide where major interests lie. It also enables them to benefit from the wide range of specialized knowledge and skills found in the faculty and lays the foundation for lifelong learning and application of principles. The elective program permits students to select, according to their desires, the areas they wish to explore or to study in depth.

Visit Learning Objectives for information about the Competency-Based Learning Objectives of the medical degree program.

Description of undergraduate medical  education program by year

First year

The first-year curriculum focuses on the acquisition of a core knowledge of human biology, as well as on an introduction to the essentials of good patient care. Diversity among matriculants in undergraduate background and in approaches to learning is recognized and fostered. The courses are graded Pass/Fail, and a variety of didactic means are made available including lectures, small groups, extensive course syllabi, clinical correlations and an online learning management system. The Practice of Medicine I course uses regular patient interactions and integrative cases to teach students to skillfully interview and examine patients, as well as the fundamentals of bioethics, health promotion/disease prevention, biostatistics and epidemiology. An optional summer research program between the first and second year provides an opportunity for students to explore various areas of basic science or clinical research.

Second year

The second-year curriculum is focused on human pathophysiology and pathology. Through lectures, small group discussions, laboratory exercises and independent study, students acquire broad, detailed knowledge of mechanisms of disease pathogenesis, clinopathological relationships and fundamental principles of therapy. The Practice of Medicine II course continues students’ introduction to the fundamentals of patient care and emphasizes organizing and interpreting clinical information to form a problem list, differential diagnosis and treatment plan. Students also learn how to accurately document and concisely present clinical information. Supervised clinical experiences and small group discussions further engender development of the professional attitudes and high ethical standards required for the third-year clinical clerkships.

Third year

The overall goal of the third year is implementation of fundamental interactive clinical skills necessary for the practice of medicine at the highest possible level of excellence. Students achieve this goal by participating in intensive, closely supervised training experiences in the core clinical clerkships involving inpatient and ambulatory settings and interactions with patients who present a spectrum of emergent, urgent, routine and chronic clinical problems. Through these experiences, students exhibit growth and maturation in their abilities to take medical histories, perform complete physical examinations, synthesize findings into a diagnosis, formulate treatment plans and document and present information in a concise, logical and organized fashion. During the clinical clerkships, students learn to use the biomedical literature and other educational resources in the service of their patients and in self-directed learning. Students also use their personal experiences and rapidly expanding knowledge of human behavior and ethnic, cultural, socioeconomic and other social factors to develop their own personal standards of compassionate, respectful and ethical behavior in the practice of medicine.

Fourth year

The overall goals of the fourth year are to consolidate, enhance and refine the basic clinical skills developed during the clinical clerkships and to explore specialty areas within the field of medicine. This is accomplished by providing each student with optimal preparation for selecting and pursuing graduate medical education opportunities in his/her chosen field of medical practice and/or research. Students may select from a broad array of clinical rotations and research experiences and may arrange extramural experiences. Fourth year is also an opportunity to synthesize the learning from third year in preparation for clinical residency. Towards this end, students are required to complete a Capstone course prior to graduation.