4 Academic Periods
The curriculum is divided into four periods of study. Course work is multidisciplinary and features a case-based format in which basic science is learned in a clinical context. Students engage with families, households, and communities in the longitudinal service-learning Neighborhood Health Education Learning Program (NeighborhoodHELP™) in collaboration with FIU students from other health professions.
Period 1 focuses on the study of the foundations of medicine in core basic, clinical, and social sciences, and ethics. Core basic medical sciences include medical genetics, cellular biology, anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, immunology, microbiology, and pathology; these courses combine elements of the Human Biology strand and the Disease, Illness, and Injury strand of the curriculum. An introduction to clinical skills in the Clinical Medicine strand focuses on patient-centered communication, general physical exam skills, foundations of evidence-based medicine and quantitative measurements, and medical research. Period 1 courses in the Professional Development and Medicine and Society strands focus on medical ethics, regional cultures in relation to health and medicine, self-reflection, and professionalism in doctor-patient relationships. At the beginning of Period 1, students become certified in basic life support (BLS) in preparation for half-day primary care clinics and optional emergency department shifts throughout the remainder of the period. Medical simulations, standardized patient experiences, and virtual case studies complement classroom study and prepare students for patient-centered clinical experiences.
Period 2 is organized to provide an in-depth study of human biology, disease, illness, and injury in an organ-system-based approach. Pathology, physiology, anatomy, pharmacology, genetics, and human behavior are emphasized in the case-based study of the major organ systems: hematopoietic and lymphoreticular, endocrine, reproductive, musculoskeletal, skin, gastrointestinal, renal/urinary, cardiovascular, respiratory, and nervous. Students develop clinical skills by performing physical exams, forming differential diagnoses, and developing the skills required to interpret and use laboratory medicine data and imaging technologies. Clinical skills are taught along with each of the integrated organ-systems courses. Courses in the Professional Development strand and the Medicine and Society strand continue in Period 2, with the study of health care systems and policy, interprofessional health care, community health, end-of-life care, and evidence-based medicine. Students begin their interdisciplinary service-learning in NeighborhoodHELP™ in the CommunityEngaged Physician I course (BMS 6071, Period 2). Students also participate in emergency room clinical experiences and in an introductory geriatrics preceptorship.
Period 3 involves core clerkships in Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Neurology, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Pediatrics, Psychiatry, Radiology, and Surgery. Study in Period 3 is predominantly preceptor-guided; students encounter patients with simple and complex medical conditions in outpatient and hospital settings. Students apply skills learned in the simulation laboratory and demonstrate competency in performing core procedural skills. Learning is enhanced by the inclusion of simulation and virtual cases. Selective opportunities during the Internal Medicine, Neurology, and Surgery clerkships allow students to explore specialty areas. Students continue to participate in NeighborhoodHELP™ throughout Period 3 in the Community-Engaged Physician II course (MDC 6102, Period 3). Also included in the Period 3 curriculum is a longitudinal course with problem-based learning sessions, emphasizing self-directed learning and integrating learning objectives from basic sciences. Students are required to pass Step 1 of the United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE) at the end of Period 3 and to demonstrate general competency in basic biomedical sciences, diagnosis of disease, and clinical case management.
Period 4 focuses on the study of advanced medicine, including scholarship and exploration of specialty areas to facilitate a student’s choice of postgraduate study. Students select individualized schedules that best serve their long-term career goals. Period 4 requirements include a geriatrics rotation; an emergency medicine rotation; a longitudinal capstone course; a community medicine practicum; individual research projects; one sub-internship; one selective in medicine or surgery; one selective in medicine, surgery, or a hospital-based specialty; and electives. Students continue to participate in NeighborhoodHELP™ during Period 4. Required sub-internships and electives must be completed at HWCOM-affiliated clinical sites under the supervision of HWCOM faculty. A longitudinal capstone includes professional development workshops on career management and a clinical medicine experience designed to hone clinical skills and prepare students for residency. Students are required to pass Step 2 Clinical Skills and Clinical Knowledge of the USMLE prior to graduation.