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Admission Requirements and Professional Curriculum

Detailed information can be obtained from the School of Medicine.

Courses in the School of Medicine

Curriculum for the School of Medicine

The curriculum for the M.D. degree at the UC Davis School of Medicine is a four-year program providing comprehensive preparation for graduate medical training (internships and residencies) and the practice of medicine. It offers a blend of basic science training and clinical experience with opportunities for research.

The first-year curriculum begins in August and extends into May and is organized into two blocks, Foundations and Mechanisms & Diseases. The basic science portion of the Foundations block includes courses in Molecular Biology, Cell and Tissue Biology, Gross Anatomy/Embryology/Radiology, and Human Physiology. The major organizing theme is structure-function along the continuum of hierarchical biologic structure from molecule to cell, tissue and major organ systems. The three year Doctoring curriculum begins with Doctoring 1, which is presented concurrently with the other courses. The focus of Doctoring 1 is physical examination training using standardized patients and models, correlated with concurrent gross anatomy and physiology by organ system. Behavioral medicine, epidemiology, biostatistics, cross-cultural medicine, and ethics are woven into the cases and didactic presentations and team-based learning modules. Students are required to attend preceptorships in the community and participate in home visits. Periodic quizzes and review sessions are used in the basic science courses throughout the block for formative assessment, and all courses administer comprehensive summative final examinations in December.

The Mechanisms & Disease block of the first-year curriculum begins in January and extends through April, with final exams in early May. There are two major threads, each of which is composed of several integrated courses. The Doctoring 1 course is offered concurrently. The Immunology/Microbiology/Pharmacology/Pathology thread presents an introduction to host defense, infection, basic pharmacologic principles, and general pathologic processes. The Endocrinology/Nutrition/Reproduction/Genetics (ENRG) thread covers essential concepts ingenetics, basic and clinical nutrition, reproductive medicine, and clinical endocrinology. The general pathology course also includes male-female GU and endocrine pathology, and the pharmacology course covers antibiotics and endocrine pharmacology, with the goal of integration with concurrent courses. Periodic quizzes and review sessions provide formative feedback, and final examinations are used for summative assessment. The Doctoring 1 course continues with an emphasis on interviewing skills and clinical assessment. Cases are used in the problem-based learning approach for basic-science-clinical correlation, and for the exploration of psychosocial issues. Preceptorships and home visits continue. The Doctoring 1 course concludes with a comprehensive final examination, and also includes an observed complete history and physical examination.

The first-year curriculum ends with a five week unscheduled block that may be used for vacation, remediation, electives, research, and international experiences.

The second-year curriculum is composed of two blocks-, Brain & Behavior and Pathophysiology. Brain & Behavior begins in late June and extends through August with a neurosciences block composed of integrated neuroanatomy-clinical neurosciences. The latter emphasizes the pathophysiology of common neurological disorders. The systemic pathology curriculum continues with a focus on neuropathology, and the pharmacology course covers neuropharmacology. A clinical psychiatry course is also presented during this period. The Doctoring 2 course begins, focusing on advanced clinical skills and clinical reasoning using a combination of standardized patient assessments, problem-based learning, subspecialty physical examination sessions, preceptorships, and didactics in clinical epidemiology, medical economics, and socio-behavioral medicine. The Pathophysiology Block is devoted to compressed pathophysiology courses with tight integration of the systemic pathology and pharmacology courses. The courses are organized according to organ system (cardiovascular, pulmonary, renal, musculoskeletal system, hematology, gastroenterology, oncology, and dermatology). The Doctoring 2 curriculum continues concurrently with its focus on advanced clinical skills, epidemiology, ethics, and problem based assessment. History taking and physical diagnosis skills are correlated with the ongoing pathophysiology courses. Like the first year, all of the second year courses utilize periodic quizzes and review sessions and a comprehensive final examination. The Doctoring 2 course includes an objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) using standardized patients at the end of the course series.

The second-year curriculum ends in February and is followed by a six week, unscheduled block for preparation for USMLE Step 1, remediation, electives, and vacation.

The third-year program begins in April and includes six required clerkship rotations in the clinical specialties. Clerkships in surgery, internal medicine, obstetrics & gynecology, pediatrics, and psychiatry run for 8 weeks each. A four week family medicine clerkship and a four week selective are also required. In addition to the core clerkships, students will participate in a longitudinal primary care clinic throughout the third year. The third-year Doctoring program consists of longitudinal small groups led by faculty members who remain with their group throughout the year as the students rotate through their clerkships. Doctoring 3 themes include advanced interviewing techniques, clinical reasoning, clinical epidemiology, evidence-based medicine, and ethics/jurisprudence. Students must take a comprehensive clinical skills examination at the end of the third year which features self-assessment and faculty feedback.

The fourth-year curriculum features built-in flexibility to allow students to individualize their medical careers. The early start to the fourth year in May allows students to pursue electives for early exposure to clinical specialties or to complete clerkships which may have been deferred. All students are required to select a minimum of 32 weeks of clinical electives in addition to a single four-week special study module or scholarly project. The Special Study modules are designed to integrate basic sciences with clinical sciences, provide opportunities for students to practice and refine fundamental skills in critical appraisal and analysis of emerging scientific developments, and to allow students to focus in-depth on a multidisciplinary topic of special interest to the student. The Scholarly Project requires independent inquiry with faculty mentorship and leads to a publishable manuscript and student presentation of the project at a research forum held in the winter.

Individual student programs are designed under the guidance of college directors, mentors and faculty advisors, with the support of the Career Advising Office. Each student's fourth-year program must be approved by the Fourth Year Oversight Committee to ensure appropriate breadth, depth, and vigor. There are strict guidelines for the choices and time allowed away from the home institution. To satisfy the M.D. degree program, the student must successfully complete the required course work, clerkships, and fourth year requirements. Students must pass USMLE Step 1, USMLE Step 2 CS and CK, and complete the fourth year clinical performance examination. In addition to the fourth-year elective program available, there is the opportunity for students to select from a variety of electives during the first two years. Examples include electives in history of ethics and medicine, medical Spanish and insights in clinical research. Most students also participate in one of several student-run, community clinics for elective credit during their first and second years.

Coordination with other Advanced Degree Programs

The curriculum for the M.D. degree provides flexibility and encourages coordination with other advanced degree programs (Ph.D., M.S., M.A., M.B.A., and M.P.H.). These programs offer a wide breadth of study areas and draw upon the considerable expertise of the entire campus faculty. The Department of Public Health Sciences offers an M.P.H. program in conjunction with the M.D. program. This program is designed for students interested in disease prevention and community health, health professionals and State Health Department employees.

School of Medicine administrators enthusiastically support students interested in pursuing advanced degree programs. The dual-degree program for the M.D./Ph.D. is targeted to train physicians to meet, respond to and solve the broad diversity of problems and dilemmas facing current and future health care. Students are encouraged to seek degrees in any of the campus wide Ph.D. programs, including those in social sciences and humanities. The UC Davis School of Medicine awards competitive fellowships each year to students enrolled in the M.D./Ph.D. program.

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Updated: February 7, 2018 9:23 AM