"Innovative instructional methods and technologies prepare Keck students for a lifetime of collaborative learning and practice and enable them to establish careers as outstanding physician-citizen-scientists, and as forward-thinking leaders able to improve the health of patients and communities."
About Our MD Program
Our innovative Physician – Citizen – Scientist curriculum integrates the study of clinical science with basic science and provides for close work with faculty mentors. Students receive rich and well-rounded education to prepare them to be outstanding physicians, effective leaders, collaborative and impactful members of teams and society, and capable of scientific discovery. Keck School of Medicine of USC students are immersed in clinical settings early in their training and learn from seeing patients at more than a dozen affiliated hospitals, including Keck Medical Center, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and LAC+USC Medical Center, one of the largest teaching hospitals in the nation. The diversity of Los Angeles provides Keck School of Medicine students with unrivaled experiences with a wide range of clinical cases and the privilege of caring for disadvantaged and underserved populations.
The Keck School of Medicine MD curriculum is designed to provide students with the breadth and depth of knowledge and skills to prepare them to enter whichever specialty they choose. The curriculum:
Enhances students’ understanding of basic, clinical and health systems sciences and their application to the practice of medicine
Improves students’ problem-solving and independent study skills
Integrates early clinical immersion and learning from patient encounters from the very beginning of medical school.
Keck School of Medicine Vision:
To solve the most intractable health problems afflicting humanity.
The Physician – Citizen – Scholar Curriculum
The Keck School of Medicine of USC cultivates MD students to become Physician-Citizen-Scholars who are empowered to be future leaders in health justice and health care with the skills necessary to serve and advocate for diverse communities, improve human health and health systems, and advance and apply scientific discovery.
The Physician-Citizen-Scholar MD Curriculum ensures that Keck School of Medicine (KSOM) students: gain the medical knowledge and clinical skills to be outstanding Physicians; learn through collaboration with other health professionals, patients and our surrounding communities to be respectful and respected Citizens who serve and lead; and are trained in methods of scientific inquiry and equipped as lifelong Scholars, able to contribute to new discoveries and to solving problems of patient care and health systems.
The Physician-Citizen-Scholar MD Curriculum emphasizes active learning strategies, early clinical immersion, and a learning environment that fosters the wellbeing and professional development of students. It is anchored by longitudinal coursework and experiential learning in Health Justice. All KSOM students are trained in how social determinants of health affect the health outcomes of individuals and populations while ensuring that students acquire skills in community assessment, health policy, and advocacy that can be used to advance health equity. All KSOM students receive a Certificate in Health Justice to reflect the core nature of this comprehensive and immersive curriculum.
The Physician-Citizen-Scholar Curriculum is delivered in three phases with longitudinal integration of content and experiences in health justice, clinical skills, professional identity formation, health systems science, humanities, ethics, economics, art and law, and scholarship. USMLE Step 1 is taken after the Clerkship Phase.
Scientific and Clinical Foundations
Provides students with a broad and extensive range of knowledge and skills in biomedical sciences and clinical care.
Composed of blocks of curricular content organized around function.
Longitudinal instruction in core clinical skills and clinical reasoning is integrated throughout using active and case-based learning.
Students actively engage in the surrounding community to gain a firsthand understanding of the factors that influence health and health outcomes.
Patient navigator experiences give students the opportunity to work directly with patients early in medical school and assist them in navigating the health care system exposing students to the impacts of social determinants of health and enabling them to contribute to improved access to care.
Students participate in Longitudinal Learning Communities with a dedicated faculty coach as part of a curriculum for individualized professional development.
Clerkship Phase (12 months): Clinical Immersion
Provides students with rich and immersive clinical training in core clerkships: Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Neurology, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Pediatrics, Psychiatry, and Surgery.
Students will develop an advocacy project based on their clinical and community-based experiences.
Students serve and learn as important contributing members of interprofessional teams.
Two “Just in Time Training” weeks will prepare students for their subsequent core clerkships and will reinforce application of the basic sciences in clinical medicine.
Cross-cutting themes in health justice, health systems science, geriatric medicine, chronic disease prevention and management and mental health will be integrated throughout.
Longitudinal Learning Communities for coaching and individualized professional development will continue through the Clerkship phase.
Post-Clerkship Phase (18 months): Individuation and Transformation
Provides students with an extensive array of clinical opportunities to individualize and tailor their education to determine and achieve their postgraduate career goals.
All students participate in a residency preparation course.
Students may select an area of emphasis for in-depth exploration. Areas of emphasis include:
Health Policy and Advocacy
Primary Care and Community Engagement
Health Technology and Innovation
Clinical Medicine: Practice and Administration
Students complete a scholarly project related to an area of emphasis or special interest.
For more information about the specific blocks, required courses, and clerkship descriptions for the MD Program, visit the Medicine (MD) section of the USC Catalog
It is well known that historical and systemic social forces (e.g., poverty, racism, sexism, homophobia, immigration, violence, and environmental issues) contribute substantially to a wide range of deleterious effects on health which disproportionately affect individuals from disenfranchised groups. Physicians are well-positioned to be at the forefront of social change and the Keck School of Medicine has a deep commitment to equity, justice and structural transformation with a goal of ameliorating health disparities and benefiting society as a whole. The establishment of a Health Justice Curriculum reflects the commitment of the Keck School of Medicine to Social Justice and its efforts to impact health equity. The Health Justice curriculum is core content for all KSOM medical students and a certificate in Health Justice is issued at graduation. The goal is to provide KSOM medical students with transformative and immersive educational experiences in Health Justice which create and sustain future generations of physicians, imbuing them with the knowledge and skills to build practices and organizations that meet the needs of individuals and communities and enabling them to lead policy efforts to address healthcare inequities in society.
Health Justice Curriculum Objectives:
To earn the Health Justice certificate, KSOM students will:
Build knowledge of theories of justice and explore how interrelated topics such as residential segregation, income, education, gender, food insecurity, and structural racism impact human rights and health disparities.
Recognize the ways in which socioeconomic systems deny or promote individuals’ realization of human rights based on categories of prejudice or privilege locally and globally.
Employ skills of communication, community assessment, organizing and mobilization, leadership, and advocacy needed to influence systems and societal structures to cultivate an equitable healthcare system and provide equitable health care.
Gain insight into the role of community organizing and mobilization in driving policy and practice as a means to respond to the challenges of inequities in health and health care.
The Health Justice learning sessions will be woven throughout the first 30 months of medical school as a requirement for all students. The Health Justice curriculum will ensure that KSOM medical students gain in-depth knowledge about social justice issues in healthcare and the skills necessary to assess communities for inequities and to advocate for justice in healthcare. As part of the Health Justice curriculum, KSOM medical students will participate in service-oriented community engagement experiences that will promote their embodiment of a critical consciousness so that they can serve as excellent physicians, engaged advocates and skillful investigators advancing health and healthcare for all.
The curricular requirements of the Health Justice certificate will be fulfilled through experiences in the community, selected readings and videos, team-based learning sessions, and focused topic meetings with students in round table fashion or in small groups. Skills will be taught through mentoring, where students are given the opportunity to process their experiences in real time through dialogue with community providers engaged in the service experiences and through complementary reflective sessions with faculty.
Highlights of the Health Justice Curriculum:
Participation in a patient navigator experience during the first year of medical school to introduce students to the local community around KSOM and enable them to see first-hand the obstacles to care faced by patients in the community. Patient navigation will also allow students to better understand the strengths of the surrounding community and how the community can capitalize on those strengths to foster positive health outcomes.
Placement in clinical care venues specifically dedicated to addressing health justice issues during the clerkship phase of the curriculum to provide students the opportunity to directly contribute to the needs of individuals and communities at the intersection of health justice and clinical care.
Advocacy for Health Justice in which KSOM students will collaborate on an advocacy project with students from the Price School of Public Policy. Students will learn how to advocate for community-identified needs related to health justice issues to effect change in policies, hospitals, clinics, and communities. Students will explore real-world issues and develop proposals to address those issues providing foundations on which students can build as they advance in their training and careers.
The curriculum will progress from an inward look at self, to interactions with others including peers, community members and patients and to understanding societal and legal influences on health and healthcare.
Implicit bias training
Theories of justice and human rights
Health justice ethics
Health care disparities
Social determinants of health
Access to care
Healthcare for homeless populations
Adverse childhood events
Community assessment and mobilization
Health Policy and Advocacy Track:
Medical students may also pursue a post-clerkship advanced track in Health Policy and Advocacy to work on implementing a version of their advocacy proposal with faculty mentorship. These students will continue their advocacy work by drafting policy and working with local organizations and/or governmental agencies to enact change. These interventions have the potential to directly impact and benefit the local community that inspired the work.
Health Justice Certificate
The establishment of a Health Justice Curriculum reflects the commitment of the Keck School of Medicine (KSOM) to Social Justice. The Health Justice curriculum is core content for all KSOM medical students and a certificate in Health Justice is issued at graduation to recognize the depth of that work. All KSOM medical students participate in transformative and immersive educational experiences to equip KSOM graduates with the knowledge and skills to build practices and organizations that meet the needs of communities and lead policy efforts to address healthcare inequities in society. The curricular requirements of the Health Justice certificate are fulfilled through experiences in the community and health systems (e.g. patient navigator, street medicine, advocacy project), selected readings and videos, team-based learning sessions, and focused topic meetings with students in round table fashion or in small groups. Skills are taught through mentoring, where students are given the opportunity to process their experiences in real time through dialogue with community providers engaged in the service experiences and through complementary reflective sessions with faculty.
Primary Clinical Training Sites
Students interact with actual patients from the very first weeks of medical school at partnering hospitals such as Los Angeles County + USC Medical Center, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, and Keck Hospital of USC, and others. This hands-on clinical experience throughout the curriculum gives students the advantage of a wide range of clinical experiences spanning public and private health systems.
Simulation Training Programs
The simulation training programs at the Keck School of Medicine of USC offer comprehensive learning opportunities for medical students to practice a wide range of clinical, surgical and procedural skills in a state-of-the-art and immersive training environment.