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Pre-clerkship Curriculum
Preclerkship courses are distributed into blocks comprised of 1-3 courses, as listed below:  


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Physicianship introduces students to the profession. It will cover professionalism, medical ethics, humanism in medicine, patient-centered care, population health, health disparities, clinical skills, evidence-based medicine, and health systems science. The Introduction to Physicianship course leads off the M1 year and continues with Physicianship Development & Practice sessions over 3 years. Physicianship Development & Practice sessions will reinforce the basic and clinical sciences presented in the preceding courses, and provide clinical experiences related to the content learned to date. 

The Foundations in Medical Science course covers fundamental knowledge and key basic science concepts needed by physicians to make diagnostic and therapeutic decisions for patients presenting with programs in any organ system. The course covers the content areas of:

  • Molecular Basis of Genetic Disorders
    The Cell as a Unit of Health and Disease
    Basic Concepts of Pharmacology
    Immunity in Health and Disease
    Hematopoiesis and Neoplasia
    Etiologic Basis of Infectious Diseases

The Cardiovascular System course will cover the medical sciences and the clinical aspects, including pathophysiology, of the cardiovascular system. The overarching goal of this course is to demonstrate the interdependence of the heart and vascular systems, and the importance of each in human health and disease. Mastery of electrophysiology, muscle physiology, and several other structure-function relationships, from the molecular-cellular level to the gross anatomical level is required to understand the complexities of integrated cardiovascular function. The course focuses discussion of common presenting signs and symptoms characteristic of the healthy cardiovascular system, as well as common cardiovascular disease states. The course will cover risk factors for disease as well as pathophysiology, pathology, diagnostic and treatment strategies for many pathologies which affect the cardiovascular system. Drugs that are commonly used to treat disorders of the cardiovascular system will be discussed, with emphasis on their mechanisms of action, organ system effects, and major toxicities. Anatomy, histology, and embryology are integrated within this course so that students may explore and relate structure to function, disease, and treatment. When appropriate, the clinical uses will be discussed in context of specific disease processes by both clinical and basic science faculty. 

The Pulmonary & Renal Systems course will cover the medical sciences and an introduction to the clinical aspects, including pathophysiology, of the pulmonary and renal systems. The course will cover risk factors of pulmonary and renal diseases.  The pathogenesis, diagnostic (e.g., pulmonary function tests, arterial blood gases) and treatment strategies for a variety of pulmonary diseases. Key signs and symptoms for each disease will be emphasized. Drugs that are commonly used to treat disorders of the pulmonary system will be discussed with emphasis on their mechanism of action, organ system effects, and major toxicities.  
This course will also provide a solid foundation of knowledge regarding renal physiology and pathophysiology.  Common disorders of renal tubular function that disrupt systemic water, electrolyte, and acid-base homeostasis will also be explored.  In addition to congenital disorders of the kidney and tumors of the kidney, ureters, and bladder. Small group activities utilizing self-directed learning in a case-based format will be used to reinforce clinical concepts of both pulmonary and renal pathophysiology.  

The primary focus of the Metabolism, Endocrine & Reproductive Systems course is the control of metabolism, and the interactions between metabolic processes, the endocrine system, and reproductive function. Among the topics to be covered are the cellular pathways important for generating energy, and building blocks necessary for maintaining homeostasis, along with how these processes are affect, and are affected by, system function. The impact of dysregulation of cellular metabolism on human health and disease (e.g., diabetes and obesity) will also be examined. Students will be guided to develop the necessary skills to be interdisciplinary thinkers and life-long learners who understand and interpret molecular, biochemical, and clinical information leading to the practice of evidence-based medicine.  
Additionally, this course will cover the physiology and pathophysiology of the endocrine and reproductive systems. Case-based learning sessions will reinforce the essentials of endocrine and reproductive physiology and pathophysiology, and emphasize key features for differential diagnoses. Furthermore, drugs that are commonly used to treat and maintain endocrine and reproductive health and well-being will be discussed. 
In the corresponding Physicianship Development & Practice session, we will conduct interdisciplinary sessions on sexual health, sexual behavior, and reproductive diseases that will serve as a capstone to the course. There will be panel discussions, small and large group series, and other educational experiences that examine these issues more closely to that we can understand how they impact patient care.  

The Gastrointestinal Systems course will allow students to build, using an integrative approach, a foundation of understanding of the structure-function relationships which control gastrointestinal (GI) function. The gastrointestinal course will cover the normal anatomy, histology, and physiology followed by a discussion of the cardinal manifestations of GI disease. Specific attention will be devoted to the organ-based pathophysiology and pathology of the esophagus, stomach, small and large intestine as well as the hepatobiliary system and pancreas; emphasizing the cardinal symptoms in each of these organ systems in the pediatric and adult patient. In addition, therapeutic and pharmacologic interventions will be discussed in terms of their metabolism, mechanism of action, organ system effects, and major toxicities.  

In the Musculoskeletal and Nervous Systems course, students will explore the development, structure and disease of the musculoskeletal and peripheral nervous systems. Study will range from the cellular to gross anatomic levels through a series of large and small group exercises and laboratory experiences, including cadaveric dissection of the back, extremities, head, and neck. Common clinical cases will serve as the basis for discussion of the musculoskeletal system and peripheral nervous system, from the basic science of these structures to the patient presenting with related pain and/or dysfunction.  

The Clinical Neuroscience and Behavioral Science courses cover brain anatomy and function as well as the clinical neuroscience underlying normal function, with an emphasis on understanding the basis of the neurological exam. Students learn the basic anatomical structures and cellular mechanisms by which central nervous system controls sensation, perception, behavior, executive functions, homeostasis and movement. A wet laboratory experience is included to familiarize students with brain structures and corresponding neuroimaging. The major disorders, disease and conditions related to the field of neurology are covered. For each class of disease, the principles and pathophysiological mechanisms are covered, together with pathology, symptomatology, and major drug classes used in treatment. 

The overall objective of these courses is to familiarize medical students with the principles of normal and abnormal function of the Central Nervous System. The courses cover Behavioral Science, Psychiatry, child development and the mental status exam. The major psychiatric disorders are introduced with an emphasis on recognizing major features or the disorder and then distinguishing between related disorders. Treatment approaches are covered for each condition, including pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments. 

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