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 weekly clinically oriented sessions through students’ Academic Colleges designed to integrate with and complement students’ coursework. Students have early interactions with both standardized patients and hospitalized patients.
During the pre-clerkship period, students 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 concentrate solely on learning the material in a team-oriented environment.
Key elements of the pre-clerkship period are:
- Academic Colleges
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 once a week. 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 interprofessional education.
Strive (Personal and Professional Development for Careers in Medicine) is a course focused on developing both the professional and the person. Through weekly lectures and interactive sessions during the entire pre-clerkship curriculum, Strive exposes students to important topics organized under seven themes: personal wellness, study skills, transitions in the curriculum, financial wellness, cultural competency, personal growth, and finding your path in medicine.
- Body Structure Foundations
General topics covered include embryology, gross anatomy, and microanatomy integrated with radiological imaging. Two dissection teams of three to four students per cadaver perform successive dissection sessions leading to 48 hours of dissection experience for each student. When not dissecting, students participate in learning sessions emphasizing microanatomy, embryology, radiographic imaging, and relevant clinical correlations.
- 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). The courses include Macromolecules, Cells, Tissues, Genetics, Introduction to Pharmacology, and Organisms and Host Responses.
- Integrated Medicine: Health to Disease
This section is composed of organ-related subsections consisting of the following systems: Musculoskeletal and Skin; Hematopoietic System; Cardiovascular; Respiratory; Renal and Genitourinary; Gastrointestinal System; Endocrinology, Energy Homeostasis, and Reproductive Health; Brain and Behavior.
Topics include: normal and abnormal/structure/function; infections; immunology/inflammation; therapeutics and disease management; evidence-based medicine; genetics and epigenetics; development, degeneration, and aging; and wellness and disease prevention.
- Foundations of Clinical Reasoning
Topics in this section are integrated with material presented in the Academic Colleges, and integrated medicine courses and include introduction to evidence-based medicine, epidemiology, quality improvement, systems engineering, information management, and biostatistics.
- Transition to Clerkships
This module, taught in the final week of the pre-clerkship period, prepares students for clerkship activities.
- Noncredit Electives (Optional)
Currently offered enrichment electives include:
- Medical Humanities (Art, Literature, and Medicine)
- Applied Nutrition
- Clinical Needs-Finding
- Community Health Promotion
- Community Service Learning
- Computers in Health Care
- Fertility Awareness Methods
- Global Health
- Health Care Economics
- Homeless Health Care Management
- Innovating Health Care Solutions
- International Service Learning
- Introduction to Bioethics
- Medical Finance
- Medical Spanish
- Medicine and Cinema
- Medical Education
- Spanish Interpreter Apprenticeship Program