Core Curriculum

Required core courses in the School of Medicine include preclerkship and clinical courses.

Integrated Scientific Curriculum

 

Preclerkship Courses

Since its founding, the preclerkship curriculum at the UCSD School of Medicine has been marked by its innovativeness, its interdisciplinary nature, and its scientific rigor. The transition to our current Integrated Scientific Curriculum builds on these themes, and focuses on the importance of combining robust scientific foundations and a humanistic, biopsychosocial approach to the practice of medicine to develop outstanding physicians and physician-scientists. The preclerkship curriculum occurs over six quarters of instruction, spans the spectrum of health and disease, and is primarily organ focused in its orientation, although material on molecular, cellular, whole organism, and population orientations is also involved. Students develop expertise in both the scientific principles of medicine and its optimal clinical practice in tandem, and do so in an environment that closely simulates the broadly integrative and intellectual environment of medicine.

The preclerkship curriculum encompasses two broad areas of organization: Human Health and Disease, which provides the bulk of the basic knowledge that is critical to develop the best practice of medicine, and Clinical Foundations, in which that knowledge is applied to increasingly complex clinical problems, and in which the competencies of medical interviewing, physical examination, clinical reasoning, and medical professionalism are developed. Material in both of these sequences is coordinated so that key concepts are learned, applied, practiced, and clinically integrated in an ongoing fashion starting from the first day of medical school. The curriculum stimulates active learning, and provides appropriate time for independent assignments and intellectual exploration outside of class. A representative schedule for the preclerkship quarters is shown below.


Clinical clerkships

Clinical clerkships, throughout the third year, are intended to provide students with the skills to be able to successfully identify, access, interpret and apply scientific literature, to obtain both a comprehensive and directed medical history and perform a careful, accurate, complete and directed physical examination, and to competently perform common technical procedures. Students are taught to reason deductively to solve clinical problems, including those in which information is incomplete or ambiguous, to communicate effectively with patients, families, colleagues and other health care professionals, to correctly diagnose common illnesses based upon historical, physical examination and laboratory data, to recognize and incorporate into clinical decision making the important psychosocial determinants contributing to poor health, and to construct and execute a therapeutic plan. Students will learn to recognize and respond appropriately to medical situations that are immediately life-threatening, as well as to work effectively with the other members of the health care team and to relate in an effective manner to patients of different ages, gender and backgrounds.

Year 1 - Fall Quarter

School of Medicine Core (SOM C) 220
This five-week introductory course for first-year medical students covers cell biology, molecular biology, and genetics. Students will also receive an introduction to human anatomy and histology. (Prior to Fall 2018, course title was Foundations of Human Biology.)
Instructors: Crotty Alexander and faculty
SOMC 221
This four-week course begins with the coverage of topics foundational to physiology, pharmacology, and therapeutics. The course then focuses on the cardiovascular system, emphasizing normal function. Related anatomy, histology, physiology, cell and molecular biology, and pharmacology will be covered.
Instructors: Thomas and faculty
SOMC 222
This three-week course covers the pulmonary system, with an emphasis on normal function. Related anatomy, histology, physiology, cell and molecular biology, and pharmacology will be covered.
Instructors: ElMaraachli, Simonson and faculty
SOMC 223
This three-week course covers the gastrointestinal system, with an emphasis on normal function. Related anatomy, histology, physiology, cell and molecular biology, and pharmacology will be covered. Nutrition will be covered. (Prior to Fall 2017, course title was Gastrointestinal System I.)
Instructors: Eckmann and faculty

Year 1 - Winter Quarter

SOMC 224B
Prerequisite: Completion of SOMC 224A
This course builds on skills introduced in SOMC 224A. Skills and attitudes of patient communication and physical examination are practiced, and professional development material is introduced. Problem-based learning integrates multiple perspectives, and students participate in a fortnightly ambulatory apprenticeship.
Instructors: Bhakta and faculty
SOMC 225
This three-week course covers the renal system, focusing on normal function. Related anatomy, histology, physiology, cell and molecular biology, and pharmacology will be covered.
Instructors: Vallon and faculty
SOMC 226
This three-week course covers the musculoskeletal system, and focuses on anatomy learned by dissection and reinforced with lectures by anatomists and orthopedic/sports medicine clinicians. Areas covered: upper and lower limb anatomy, head anatomy.
Instructors: Ward and faculty
SOMC 227
This five-week course during year one teaches neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, neurochemistry, neuropharmacology, principles of neurological function and dysfunction, human growth and development, and anatomy, function and dysfunction of head and neck, including eye and ear.
Instructors: Kritchevsky and faculty

Year 1 - Spring Quarter

SOMC 224C
Prerequisite: Completion of SOMC 224A and SOMC 224B or consent of instructor
In this course, students continue to learn patient communication and physical examination, and material related to professional development is introduced. Problem-based learning integrates multiple perspectives, and students participate in a fortnightly ambulatory apprenticeship.
Instructors: Johnson and faculty
SOMC 229
This three-week course covers principles and important concepts in the following areas: metabolism, endocrinology, and reproduction. Related biochemistry, physiology, anatomy, histology, cell and molecular biology, and pharmacology will be covered.
Instructors: Frugoni, Santos Cavaiola and faculty
SOMC 241
This five-week course covers concepts and principles in immunology and hematology. Related physiology, cell and molecular biology, histology, and pharmacology will be covered.
Instructors: Reid, Bui and faculty
SOMC 242
This four-week course covers important concepts in microbiology. Related physiology, cell and molecular biology, and pharmacology will be covered.
Instructors: Logan and faculty

Year 2 - Fall Quarter

SOMC 231
This two and one-half week course covers the principles of clinical oncology. Topics will include cancer biology and related epidemiology. Clinical cases will be explored, including approaches to treatment and related pharmacology. This course also covers response to injury, with a focus on general/systemic pathology.
Instructors: Pilz and faculty
SOMC 243
This one and one-half week course covers concepts and key topics in Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Medical Informatics.
Instructors: Garfein and faculty
SOMC 232
This two-week course covers rheumatoid arthritis, spondyloarthropathies, SLE, Sjogren's syndrome, inflammatory myositis, osteoarthritis, gout and CPPD disease, septic arthritis, and pharmacologic treatment. Dermatology topics emphasize the pathophysiology and recognition of infectious, autoimmune, neoplastic, genetic skin changes. (Prior to Fall 2014, course title was Musculoskeletal System II.)
Instructors: Terkeltaub and faculty
SOMC 233
Prerequisite: SOMC 223 or consent of instructor
This two-week course covers the diseases of the digestive system (gastrointestinal tract, liver, pancreas, etc) with an emphasis on its anatomy, histology, cell and molecular biology, pathology, pathophysiology, and pharmacology. (Prior to Fall 2018, course title was Gastrointestinal System II)
Instructors: Eckmann and faculty
SOMC 234
Prerequisite: SOMC 229 or consent of instructor
This four-week course covers principles and advanced concepts in the following areas: endocrinology, reproduction, and metabolism. Related biochemistry, physiology, pathology and pathophysiology, histology, cell and molecular biology, and pharmacology will be covered.
Instructors: Santos Cavaiola, Sutton and faculty
SOMC 235
Prerequisite: SOMC 221 or consent of instructor
This three-week course continues to cover the cardiovascular system, with an emphasis on abnormal function. Related anatomy, physiology, pathology and pathophysiology, histology, cell and molecular biology, and pharmacology will be covered.
Instructors: Penny and faculty

Year 2 - Winter Quarter

SOMC 237
Prerequisite: SOMC 227 or consent of instructor
This five-week course during year two covers neurological, psychiatric, ophthalmological, otolaryngological, and general head and neck principles, syndromes and disorders. Clinically relevant etiology, pathology, pathophysiology, and therapies are included.
Instructors: Kritchevsky and faculty
SOMC 238
Prerequisite: SOMC 222 or consent of instructor
This three-week course continues to cover the pulmonary system, with an emphasis on abnormal function. Related anatomy, histology, physiology, pathology, pathophysiology, cell and molecular biology, and pharmacology will be covered.
Instructors: Papamatheakis and faculty
SOMC 239
Prerequisite: SOMC 225 or consent of instructor
This two-week course continues to cover the renal system, focusing on abnormal function. Related anatomy, histology, physiology, pathology and pathophysiology, cell and molecular biology, and pharmacology will be covered.
Instructors: Rifkin and faculty

Year 2 - Spring Quarter

SOMC 240
This two-week course covers complex multi-organ system disorders of medical relevance. Related anatomy, histology, cell and molecular biology, physiology, and pharmacology will be covered. This course also includes a review of integrative cases.
Instructors: Coyne and faculty
SOMC 244
Independent study and review for the United States Medical Licensing Step 1 Exam, which is a UCSD School of Medicine requirement.
Instructors: Mandel and faculty

Year 3

Medicine Core Clerkship
Prerequisite: enrollment in the SOM, and completion of the preclinical curriculum
All Quarters
Medicine 401 is a clerkship designed to teach the student the basic skills of clinical medicine. During the 12-week course, the student will cycle through one outpatient ambulatory care rotation and two inpatient hospital-based rotations. Major emphasis is placed on acquiring an understanding of the pathophysiology of disease processes. On the ambulatory care rotation, the student will be assigned to various community-based, UCSD, VA, and Mercy Hospital outpatient clinics, as well as the private offices of practicing internists in the community. This portion of the clerkship is designed to provide the student with exposure to "real world" outpatient care. During the inpatient rotations, three to four patients a week are evaluated by each student and, with members of the ward staff, differential diagnoses are formulated and plans for diagnosis and therapy are organized. Attendings and preceptors meet regularly with the students to discuss patient management and to assess the student's progress. Attendance at Grand Rounds and other conferences offered by the Department of Medicine is expected. Constant effort is made to integrate the concepts of human biology, introduced during the first two years, into the clinical setting. A written examination is given at the end of the quarter. Satisfactory completion of this clerkship is required prior to taking clinical electives in medicine or in medical subspecialties. Clerkship time is divided between the UCSD Medical Center, Mercy Hospital, and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
Instructors: Dresselhaus
Neurology Core Clerkship Prerequisite: enrollment in the SOM, and completion of the preclinical curriculum.
All Quarters
This course involves training in inpatient and outpatient treatment of central nervous system disorders under supervision of the residents and staff in neuroscience and related faculties. The primary aim is to provide practical application of information acquired during the first two years of medical school to the understanding and treatment of clinical disorders of the nervous system. Each student contributes complete histories, performs physical examinations on assigned selected neurological patients, and observes and participates in any laboratory radiological, surgical, or pathological studies undertaken on his or her patients. Students participate in presentations and clinical discussions of patients who have exemplary developmental, infectious, neoplastic, deficiency, and degenerative disorders of the nervous system.

Tutorial environments and department learning resource materials are available at UCSD Medical Center. Students attend neurology rounds and outpatient clinics to present cases and demonstrate key findings.
Instructors: Evans

Pediatrics Core Clerkship Prerequisite: enrollment in the SOM, and completion of the preclinical curriculum.
All Quarters
Pediatrics 401 is an eight-week clerkship that introduces the medical student to both ambulatory and inpatient pediatrics. During the outpatient rotation, the student learns about normal growth and development, child health maintenance, examination and care of the newborn, and evaluation of sick children in both the Specialty Clinics and the Primary Care Clinic. Students may rotate through UCSD Medical Center, El Camino Pediatrics, Mercy Clinic or the Naval Hospital Clinics. During the inpatient rotation, the student is exposed to the care of pediatric patients ranging from infancy through adolescence. The students work closely with the house staff. They are expected to do complete histories and physicals and to follow and document the progress of the patients throughout the hospital stay. They are given opportunities to present patients on attending rounds and preceptor rounds.

Students are given an opportunity to request where they do the inpatient and outpatient rotations. A series of core lectures is given over the first day of the clerkship to orient the students to growth and development, the examination of the pediatric patient, and management of commonly encountered pediatric problems. Daily teaching conferences for medical students and house staff are scheduled at each affiliated pediatric teaching site.

At the end of the rotation, the student should have acquired the skills necessary to examine patients of various ages and to assess development. They should be able to interpret clinical information to form an intelligent differential diagnosis and plan for patient management. In addition, the student should recognize common pediatric complaints and have an approach for treatment.
Instructors: Cannavino

Psychiatry Core Clerkship Prerequisite: enrollment in the SOM, and completion of the preclinical curriculum.
Prerequisite: SOMC 229 or consent of instructor
All Quarters
The Psychiatry Core Clerkship consists of six weeks of intensive inpatient psychiatry located at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, UCSD Medical Center, or San Diego Naval Hospital. Students will be exposed to patients with major psychiatric illnesses. Students will be instructed in diagnosis and management of major syndromes. Students will become part of an integrated treatment team. Students will have call three to four times where they will be exposed to outpatient diagnosis and management of acute psychiatric emergencies.

Preliminary didactic instruction is provided in the assessment and treatment of these emergencies. Supervised instruction is also given in the outpatient assessment and treatment of less severe emotional disturbances through weekly interviewing seminars. Students are expected to work up two patients per week in detail and to present and discuss selected cases at departmental and medical student conferences. The department offers a six-week revolving lecture series exclusively for students in the following areas: schizophrenia, affective disorders, alcoholism and drug dependence, sleep disorders, psychosomatics, psychologic testing, emergency psychiatry, geriatrics, and the theory and treatment of neurotic disorders. In addition, each pair of students is assigned to a preceptor who oversees their clerkship experience and monitors the development of their educational and professional skills during the clerkship experience. The student evaluation is accomplished by the subjective observation of their supervisors, by a written paper, and by a final examination on the last day of the clerkship.
Instructors: Lehman

Obstetrics and Gynecology Core Clerkship Prerequisite: enrollment in the SOM, and completion of the preclinical curriculum.
Prerequisite: SOMC 221 or consent of instructor
All Quarters
This clerkship is designed to provide the student with the fundamentals required for treatment of female patients by all doctors whether they be internists, surgeons, pediatricians, or public health officials. The discipline of reproductive medicine and obstetrics and gynecology spans the entire age range of womanhood and is extensively health oriented. Surgical and obstetrical techniques comprise only part of its concerns. The overriding objectives of the field are the quality and quantity of human life from its development in utero through the birth process to the preventive health care thereafter.

Student activities encompass: history taking and physical diagnosis, participation in prenatal care, delivery room activities, outpatient gynecologic practice and gynecologic surgery. The student is also exposed to the three areas of specialization in obstetrics and gynecology, i.e., reproductive endocrinology, oncology, and perinatology. For the students, the clinical activities will be centered on the Obstetrical and Gynecological Services at UCSD Medical Center, Mercy Hospital, or the Naval Hospital.

Teaching seminars cover sexual and contraceptive counseling; physiological and endocrine basis of reproduction; the spectrum of diseases peculiar to women and pregnancy; influences of medical, surgical, and psychiatric disease on the reproductive process; and influences of female biology on health and disease processes outside the reproductive tract. Social problems of family planning, population, and abortion are also considered.
Instructors: Deak

Surgery Core Clerkship Prerequisite: enrollment in the SOM, and completion of the preclinical curriculum.
All Quarters
The core curriculum in surgery provides an eight-week clinical experience, consisting of four weeks in general surgery and four weeks on a rotation in a surgical specialty. These rotations are at the UCSD Medical Center, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and Naval Hospital.

This clerkship provides the student with intensive training in surgical diagnosis and treatment. The student functions as a responsible member of a busy surgical team. Throughout the course the students are supervised by members of the house staff, full-time faculty, and clinical faculty. Fundamental principles of surgical diagnosis, therapy, and application of basic scientific knowledge to clinical medicine are emphasized.

The students work as part of the clinical team on each service. The student's responsibilities include: 1) completion of history and physical exam and writing progress notes on all their assigned patients; 2) working closely with the house staff and attending staff in making a diagnosis and treatment plan for their patients; 3) participation in daily rounds and as a member of the team in the operating room. The students should attend the conferences and rounds that are pertinent to the service. Students rotate on night and weekend call as part of the team. In addition, the students participate in case conferences weekly where they present cases for in-depth discussion with their peers and the responsible faculty moderator. Students also attend grand rounds offered by the Department of Surgery.
Instructors: Gupta and faculty

Year 4

School of Medicine 410 Prerequisite: completion of the School of Medicine Core Clinical Curriculum 401 Series.
Winter Quarter
his four-week course prepares students for the cognitive challenges of internship. Small groups work together to solve diagnostic and management dilemmas in multiple disciplines, and practice communication skills. Presentations and panels cover topics in clinical specialties, ethics, and malpractice.
Instructors: Jenkins, and faculty
The Independent Study Project (ISP) has long been a cornerstone of the elective curriculum at the UCSD School of Medicine. The UCSD School of Medicine seeks to "prepare physicians who are scientifically expert, clinically astute, responsive to community problems, and compassionate toward clinical needs."