The first year and a half of medical school is focused on building knowledge in basic and clinical sciences through rich, team-based learning experiences in the classroom, laboratories, simulation environments, and small-group settings. This period also includes many opportunities for direct clinical experiences, including weekly clinical sessions through students’ Academic Colleges and other opportunities designed to integrate with and complement students’ coursework.
During the pre-clerkship period, students will gain important scientific knowledge, attitudes, and skills, along with a common vocabulary shared by the medical profession, all of which are vital elements in building a foundation of excellence. All classes during the pre-clerkship period are conducted on a pass/fail basis so that students will be able to concentrate solely on learning the material in a team-oriented environment.
Academic Colleges are small learning communities that bring together gifted faculty members with small groups of students (typically six) so the students can observe and mirror the professional clinical skills, behaviors, and attitudes of a highly experienced physician. The Colleges meet twice a week (once a week for each student): three of the six Colleges meet on one day and the remaining three Colleges meet on another day. Topics are often linked to the basic science material being simultaneously learned and include medical history and physical exam, medical ethics, case-based learning, medical professionalism, communication skills, clinical reasoning, and interprofessionalism.
Body Structure Foundations
General topics include embryology, gross anatomy, and microanatomy integrated with radiological imaging. Each lecture is followed by a three-hour dissection session. Two dissection teams of four students per cadaver performing successive dissection sessions alternate, leading to 48 hours of dissection experience for each student. Non-dissection sessions replace one of the weekly dissection sessions for a student team, emphasizing microanatomy, radiographic imaging, and relevant clinical correlations. Embryology material is incorporated into the non-dissection sessions where appropriate.
Fundamentals of Biomedical Sciences
Modules in this section address the fundamentals of molecular biology, biochemistry, genetics, cell biology and the cellular basis of physiology and neuroscience, neoplasia, principles of pathology, pharmacology, and microbiology, as well as fundamentals of immunology and host responses (inflammation).
Integrated Medicine: Health to Disease
This section is composed of organ-related subsections consisting of the following systems: (1) hematopoietic; (2) cardiovascular; (3) pulmonary; (4) gastrointestinal, liver, and nutrition; (5) renal and genitourinary; (6) endocrinology, reproduction, and metabolism; (7) musculoskeletal and skin; and (8) brain and behavior. Topics as appropriate for each section include: (1) normal and abnormal/structure/function; (2) infections; (3) immunology/inflammation; (4) therapeutics and disease management; (5) evidence-based medicine; (6) genetics and epigenetics; (7) development, degeneration, and aging; and (8) wellness and disease prevention.
Foundations of Clinical Reasoning
Topics in this section are integrated with material presented in the Academic Colleges, including: (1) introduction to evidence-based medicine, (2) epidemiology, (3) quality improvement, (4) systems engineering, (5) information management, and (6) biostatistics.
Transition to Clerkships
This module, taught in the final week of the pre-clerkship period, prepares students for clerkship activities.
Non-Credit Electives (Optional)
Currently offered electives include Medical Humanities (Art, Literature, and Medicine), Applied Nutrition, Clinical Needs-Finding, Community Health Promotion, Community Service Learning, Computers in Healthcare, Fertility Awareness Methods, Global Health, Healthcare Economics, Homeless Healthcare Management, Innovating Healthcare Solutions, International Service Learning, Introduction to Bioethics, Medical Finance, Medical Spanish, Medicine and Cinema, and the Spanish Interpreter Apprenticeship Program.