Year I and II – PBL

The Patient-Based Learning curriculum is competency based and organized to provide first- and second-year students a strong background in topics foundational for Years 3 and 4. The curriculum addresses the foundational elements found in biomedical sciences and also includes fundamentals of clinical medicine, population health, evidence-based medicine, medical humanities and medical ethics. The curriculum is integrated across disciplines and topics, facilitating deeper understanding and life-long learning.

The curriculum is arranged in four 16- to 17-week blocks arranged in four- to six-week modules. The first block, Foundations of Medicine, emphasizes anatomy and the development of clinical skills. In addition, it provides an introduction to the foundational basic science topics of biochemistry, cell biology, immunology, pharmacology, ethics and population health. The second, third and fourth blocks systematically cover the physiology and pathophysiology associated with organ systems (neurology, psychiatry, musculoskeletal, skin, cardiovascular, pulmonology, renal, GI, reproduction and hematology/oncology) while continuing to explore the ethical and population health issues associated with the practice of medicine.

MUSM uses a variety of educational methodologies to engage learners and to meet the competencies of the institution. Student-centered learning is developed through small group, case-based interactions. These sessions consist of eight to nine students and one faculty facilitator. Students approach the material by the individual identification of learning issues, information gathering and working as a team to integrate basic and clinical science principles through the discussion of a clinical case. The facilitators maintain a positive group dynamic, keeping the discussion relevant and at an appropriate depth. In addition, MUSM uses large group active-learning (for example, Team Based Learning) to promote knowledge, content integration and teamwork. Outside of structured curricular time, students have sufficient protected time to study independently and/or explore professional growth and development activities.

The Medical Practice curriculum is a component of the PBL curriculum. During the first two years, students learn the basic skills necessary for interaction with patients. These skills include interview/medical history and physical examination techniques. In addition, students learn clinical reasoning and critical thinking skills necessary for the diagnosis and management of patients. Students interview and examine standardized patients from the Standardized Patient Program. The latter group is comprised of persons who have been trained to portray specific medical problems and behavioral roles and to give constructive feedback to the students. These encounters provide students with the skills and confidence necessary to interact effectively with real patients during the Population Health Program.

The Population Health/Medical Research (PHMR) curriculum is a component of the PBL curriculum. During the first two years, students learn the basics of non-biological determinants of health, health disparities, rural health care, cultural competence, research design, epidemiology, biostatistics and health care systems. The knowledge acquired in PHMR is then applied during the students’ Population Health visits. The population health visits consist of two, three-week immersion experiences where students are paired with a primary care, community physician who will serve as their mentor for the entire program. During these experiences, students apply the concepts from PHMR and the medical practice skills they learned in the PBL curriculum to provide clinical care to patients and conduct a variety of health assessments of the community. These visits occur at the mid-way point of Year 1 and the end of Year 2.