The Pre-Clerkship Phase is designed to enhance the students’ understanding of the basic sciences and their relevance to clinical medicine. The methodologies used are designed to improve students’ problem-solving and independent study skills. Curriculum themes are delivered in a case-centered format with the integration of small-group learning sessions and directed independent study. Each week of the academic year is limited to approximately 20 hours of lecture and small group sessions excluding time spent in Introduction to Clinical Medicine sessions. All systems and courses throughout the first two years are graded Pass/Fail. There is an eight-week summer break between Year I and II.


The first semester of Year I is Foundations of Medical Sciences (FMS), a 19-week introductory system which provides students with the fundamental knowledge necessary for the integrated study of the basic and clinical sciences. FMS is divided into three sections: FMS I, II, and III providing a transition from an understanding of normal cellular structures and processes, to the organization of the human body and the general principles of disease. The overarching goal for these sections is to provide a foundation for comprehending the disease-specific content required to achieve the case-based objectives in subsequent organ systems. FMS is followed by systems focused in gastrointestinal/liver, neuroscience, reproduction, cardiovascular, renal, respiratory, skin, musculoskeletal, hematology and immunology, endocrinology and infectious diseases. The Integrated Cases Section (ICS) completes the second year of the Year I/II continuum and teaches a model of clinical reasoning through patient-centered problems that integrate the basic and clinical science presented in the preceding systems. Students explore the multi-organ effects of disease processes and reinforce diagnostic reasoning skills. ICS also reinforces the appropriate use of medical information resources, effective self-directed learning skills, and interpersonal and group communication skills.

The instruction of evidenced based medicine begins in FMS I and continues during FMS III as part of the biostatistics and epidemiology curriculum to ensure that students are grounded in these topics and able to interpret the medical literature. Clinical translational research (CTR) in Year I consists of lectures, self-study modules, and small group discussion sessions. These introduce students to the methods of CTR and prepares them for carrying out research as medical students.

Introduction to Clinical Medicine

Introduction to Clinical Medicine (ICM) is a longitudinal clinical skills curriculum integrated with instruction in the systems, helping students learn and apply basic science knowledge in the clinical setting. ICM exemplifies the patient-centered orientation of the medical school curriculum. Students are introduced to patients and are involved in patient care activities beginning in the first few weeks of medical school. ICM emphasizes the systematic acquisition of clinical skills and students gain competency in interviewing, history taking, physical examination, elementary clinical problem solving and medical record keeping.

A group of six students spend from four to eight hours each week with an instructor from the clinical faculty who remains with the same group for one to two years. This format facilitates student-faculty interaction and communication.

Additional learning experiences occur through workshops and focus experiences. ICM workshops provide standardized instruction in history taking and physical examination, as well as integrated instruction in areas that cross disciplines. Through focus experiences, students are encouraged to explore a variety of practice environments as well as community-based health and social services. For example, students may visit outpatient clinical settings, a geriatrics long term care facility, a hospice care facility or a homeless services organization.

Four ICM groups (24 students) are combined in Year I for the professionalism and practice of medicine component of the course. These students form a learning community in which students participate in a core curriculum guided by two clinical faculty members. Coursework is designed to help students gain skills and competence in the areas of communication, the social and community context of health care, ethical judgment, self-awareness and reflection, self-care and personal growth, professionalism, cultural competence, and lifelong learning. The course emphasizes interactive small-group learning experiences which may include community leaders, faculty-mentored small-group discussions, student presentations and student-led sessions.

ICM Electives

In Year II, students select from a variety of ICM electives. Examples of ICM electives include advanced ethics, medicine and the mind, spirituality and medicine, medical arts and humanities, global health, complementary and alternative medicine, medicine’s intersection with technology, service learning, and the future of health care.