The foundational science curriculum is taught in the first two periods of study through a variety of courses representing the five strands of our medical curriculum. Course work is multidisciplinary, featuring a variety of active learning pedagogies that foster critical thinking, clinical application and integration among strands. 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 study of the foundations of medicine in core basic, clinical, and social sciences, and ethics. Core basic medical sciences include medical genetics, cellular biology, biochemistry, 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 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 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 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 Community Engaged Physician I course. Students also participate in emergency room clinical experiences and in an introductory geriatrics preceptorship.