Undergraduate Medical Education

Curriculum Overview

The overall objective of the medical school curriculum at the University of California, San Diego is to instill graduates with the knowledge, skills, behaviors, and attitudes that will lead to their becoming capable, compassionate physicians.

Curriculum at UCSD School of Medicine

UCSD medical students matriculating in the fall of 2010 were the first class to experience the Integrated Scientific Curriculum or “ISC.” Beginning with the first quarter, this progressive curriculum integrates clinical medicine and medical science in a highly robust fashion. Concepts covering health and disease are taught in the context of human organ systems. The ISC is designed to provide a strong scientific foundation for clinical practice.

One of the cornerstones of the ISC and of our learning environment is the creation of six Academic Communities (ACs) at UCSD School of Medicine. Each incoming student is assigned to one of the ACs and maintains this affiliation over his or her entire medical school career. As such, each AC contains approximately 22 to 23 medical students from each class and a total of approximately 90 medical students. Each community has a faculty director. In addition, faculty members participate in each community to provide mentoring, counseling, and support.

The core clinical curriculum throughout most of the third year of medical school is predetermined. However, during the preclerkship curriculum, students are free to select additional elective courses that best fit their needs and interests, and in the third year have the opportunity to complete two clinical selectives. In addition, although there are general requirements that must be fulfilled during the fourth year, students are allowed to select from a variety of clerkships which meet these requirements.

Students also complete an Independent Study Project (ISP) under the direction of a faculty member in the School of Medicine. The project involves original, independent, and scholarly activity by the student, and the project proposal must be approved by the Electives Committee before it can be carried out. At the completion of the ISP, a written summary of the findings is given to the ISP committee chair and members for evaluation, including a project description, a rationale for why it was performed, details on how the work was performed, and a synopsis of the results. It is anticipated that many of these reports will be disseminated to a relevant audience. 

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