Clerkship Phase

The Clerkship Phase is designed as a continuum of two calendar years. Throughout the required clerkships students rotate in cohort groups of approximately 28 students.

Transition to Clinical Practice

Transition to Clinical Practice is a one-week course delivered just prior to starting the clerkship phase of the Keck School of Medicine curriculum. The course is designed to prepare students for the transition from largely classroom-based instruction in Years I/II to learning while providing care as active members of a healthcare team. The course culminates in students donning a white coat and a group recitation of the Hippocratic Oath to reinforce the commitment to professional principles as they transition to their new roles as student physicians.

Required Clerkships

There are nine required clerkships in the Year III/IV continuum: Family Medicine (6 weeks), General Surgery (6 weeks), Internal Medicine (6 weeks), Neurology (4 weeks), Obstetrics and Gynecology (6 weeks), Pediatrics (6 weeks), Psychiatry (6 weeks), Internal Medicine Sub-Internship (4 weeks), Surgery Sub-Internship (4 or 6 weeks). All required clerkships ensure that students directly participate in the delivery of care and learn as integral members of healthcare teams. Each clerkship exposes students to diverse patient populations with a wide range of medical conditions. Required clerkships are graded Honors, High Pass, Pass or Fail.

Family Medicine 6 weeks

The Family Medicine Clerkship provides students with individualized opportunities for medical students to explore the breadth of family medicine and understand the role of a family physician. Students will care for patients across the full spectrum of ages within the context of an ongoing personal patient-physician relationship focused on integrated care. This clerkship offers students a close, collegial relationship with their preceptors as they address preventive care, acute and chronic illness, and mental health in the outpatient setting. In addition to outpatient clinic, students may participate in home visits, hospital rounds, nursing home rounds, obstetrical deliveries, volunteer clinics, or sporting events to ensure experiences that cover the breadth of family medicine practice.

General Surgery 6 weeks

The Surgery Clerkship provides students with experiences in caring for patients with common general surgery diagnoses and traumatic injuries. These patients range in age from infants to geriatric patients. The students are integral members of an inpatient team consisting of a faculty attending, a fellow, a senior resident, several junior residents, one to two interns and three to four 3rd year students. All student activities revolve around perioperative care. Students participate in the operating room and are active in doing surgical consults, seeing patients in the clinic, and rounding daily with their inpatient teams.

Internal Medicine 6 weeks

The Internal Medicine Clerkship provides students with a comprehensive experience in hospital medicine. The clerkship exposes students to a diverse patient population with a wide range of medical conditions and students become familiar with the role that hospitalists play in providing inpatient care. While a member of the medical, team students gain experience managing complicated medical conditions, interacting with consulting services, and developing specific disposition plans for individual patient needs.

Obstetrics and Gynecology 6 weeks

The Obstetrics and Gynecology Clerkship provides students the opportunity to interact with women in all stages of life, from adolescence through and beyond menopause. Students experience a variety of obstetrical and gynecological conditions in both outpatient and inpatient settings. Students gain an understanding of the primary care mission within obstetrics and gynecology in the outpatient segment, and the inpatient experience provides an exposure to the dynamic aspects of birth, obstetric and gynecologic surgeries and emergencies.

Pediatrics 6 weeks

The Pediatric Clerkship addresses issues unique to newborns, infants, children, and adolescents by focusing on the health and well-being of the developing human, emphasizing growth and development, principles of health supervision, and recognition and treatment of common health problems. Additionally, the clerkship emphasizes the importance of the interaction of family, community, and society on the complete health of the patient. The role of the pediatrician in prevention of disease and injury, and the importance of collaboration between the pediatrician, other health professions, and the family is emphasized.

Psychiatry 6 weeks

The Psychiatry Clerkship provides students with experiences engaging in the care of patients in a number of different treatment settings, including inpatient wards, the psychiatric emergency room, outpatient clinics, and hospital-based consultation services. Students are exposed to pathology ranging from uncomplicated depression and anxiety disorders to severely decompensated psychotic disorders. Students learn in detail about the BioPsychoSocial model and a holistic approach to treatment of mental illness, including the use of both psychotherapy and psychopharmacology, and the importance of individualized social interventions. The integration of psychiatry into the broader field of medicine is emphasized, as is the use of bioethical concepts in the treatment of all patients.

Neurology 4 weeks

The Neurology Clerkship provides students with experiences interacting with patients of different ages that have damage to the nervous system of varying types and degrees. Many neurological disorders are insidious in onset with gradual deterioration over time. Students learn to appreciate that neurologic diseases may impair physical functioning and/or can alter the core of what defines individuals as a person, i.e., cognition, memory, and personality. Students learn how to evaluate and treat these patients and their families. Furthermore, because many patients are followed for extended periods of time, students learn how neurologic disease affect, and may restrict, one’s lifestyle choices, family interactions, work, school, living situations, and levels of activity.

Internal Medicine Sub-internship 4 weeks

The Internal Medicine Sub-Internship enables Year IV students to work directly with attending physicians and residents in the provision of patient care in an inpatient, sub-internship experience. Students are integral members and contributors to the patient care team and assume an advanced level of responsibility under the supervision of the resident and attending physician.

Surgical Subspecialty 4 or 6 weeks

The Surgical Subspecialty clerkship experience is either 4 or 6 weeks depending on the year of training in which the student participates. During Year III, students are assigned to two sub-specialties for three weeks each. Students taking this clerkship during year IV are assigned to one surgical sub-specialty for four weeks. Possible services include: Anesthesiology, Breast/Soft Tissue/Endocrine, Burn Surgery, Cardiothoracic Surgery, Hepatobiliary Transplant, Neurosurgery, Orthopedic Trauma Surgery, Orthopedic Hand Surgery, Ophthalmology, Otolaryngology, Pediatric Surgery, Plastic Surgery, Spine Surgery, Urology, and Vascular Surgery.

Intersessions I and II

The Intersession I and II courses are each one-week sessions delivered in the fall and spring between required clerkships. The courses enable students to pause, reflect and consolidate the many and varied clinical/educational experiences in which they participate during Year III. The sessions provide experiences in advanced clinical skills, professional development, evidence-based medicine, patient safety and quality, health policy, ethical decision-making, the business of medicine and the residency application process.

Selective Clerkships

Students are required to complete 16 weeks of selective clerkships chosen from a list of four-week clerkships approved by the Years III/IV Curriculum Committee and Medical Education Curriculum Committee (MECC). Selective clerkships are always exactly four continuous weeks and are under the direction of USC faculty members at USC affiliated hospitals and encompass virtually all specialty and subspecialty areas. Students are required to take one critical care or acute care (emergency medicine) selective, a medicine or pediatric subspecialty rotation, and two additional selectives from the above designations or other specialties.

Elective Clerkships

In addition to the required clerkships, students are required to complete 30 weeks of elective clerkships. All students must complete a number of four-week clerkships focused on critical care or acute care (emergency medicine), and medicine or pediatric subspecialties. There is substantial flexibility for students to individualize their curricula and to explore fields in which they have interest to determine their future career paths. Students may complete clinical rotations at the Keck School of Medicine, other medical schools, or other medical centers in the U.S. or abroad. Students may also conduct up to 8 weeks of research.

Track Mentor Program

The KSOM Year III Track Mentor Program capitalizes on the KSOM structure of student cohorts to promote the continued development of professional attributes and a positive learning environment. Each Year III student cohort group meets with their assigned mentor (who has no involvement in the evaluation process) and peer mentor six to seven times during the academic year. The mentors facilitate discussions on topics such as professional development; ethical, professional, and cultural challenges; student health and wellbeing; and collaboration and team development.