Undergraduate Medical Education

The Core Curriculum

Required core courses in the School of Medicine include preclerkship and clinical courses.

Integrated Scientific Curriculum

Preclerkship Courses

Since its founding, the preclerkship curriculum at the UCSD School of Medicine has been marked by its innovativeness, its interdisciplinary nature, and its scientific rigor. The transition to our current Integrated Scientific Curriculum builds on these themes, and focuses on the importance of combining robust scientific foundations and a humanistic, biopsychosocial approach to the practice of medicine to develop outstanding physicians and physician-scientists. The preclerkship curriculum occurs over six quarters of instruction, spans the spectrum of health and disease, and is primarily organ focused in its orientation, although material on molecular, cellular, whole organism, and population orientations is also involved. Students develop expertise in both the scientific principles of medicine and its optimal clinical practice in tandem, and do so in an environment that closely simulates the broadly integrative and intellectual environment of medicine.

The preclerkship curriculum encompasses two broad areas of organization: Human Health and Disease, which provides the bulk of the basic knowledge that is critical to develop the best practice of medicine, and Clinical Foundations, in which that knowledge is applied to increasingly complex clinical problems, and in which the competencies of medical interviewing, physical examination, clinical reasoning, and medical professionalism are developed. Material in both of these sequences is coordinated so that key concepts are learned, applied, practiced, and clinically integrated in an ongoing fashion starting from the first day of medical school. The curriculum stimulates active learning, and provides appropriate time for independent assignments and intellectual exploration outside of class. A representative schedule for the preclerkship quarters is shown below.

Clinical clerkships

Clinical clerkships, throughout the third year, are intended to provide students with the skills to be able to successfully identify, access, interpret and apply scientific literature, to obtain both a comprehensive and directed medical history and perform a careful, accurate, complete and directed physical examination, and to competently perform common technical procedures. Students are taught to reason deductively to solve clinical problems, including those in which information is incomplete or ambiguous, to communicate effectively with patients, families, colleagues and other health care professionals, to correctly diagnose common illnesses based upon historical, physical examination and laboratory data, to recognize and incorporate into clinical decision making the important psychosocial determinants contributing to poor health, and to construct and execute a therapeutic plan. Students will learn to recognize and respond appropriately to medical situations that are immediately life-threatening, as well as to work effectively with the other members of the health care team and to relate in an effective manner to patients of different ages, gender and backgrounds.

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