University Park Curriculum

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Typical Week Overview

An average week for a student in the University Park Curriculum would include:

  • Two half-days in clinical sites and one half-day in a community agency or service site in the mornings or afternoons
  • Three half-days in small, faculty-facilitated “Inquiry Groups” that draw on patient experiences as springboards for shared learning
  • Two to four sessions per month in “Collaborative Science Seminars,” co-initiated by students and faculty to address science topics in more depth
  • One half-day in Novel Clinical Integration Sessions (NCIS) to challenge students in critical thinking and problem-solving, ethical dilemmas and anatomy
  • Self-study

Patients and Sciences 1

Middle of July to middle of December, with break

The clinical experiences in Patients and Sciences 1 are designed to integrate students into practice sites in meaningful, patient-centered roles. These experiences focus mostly on primary care practice sites but also include opportunities to meet and follow patients presenting in the Emergency Department. Students then bring the stories of patients they have encountered, rather than paper cases, to inquiry group (IQ) sessions where they co-create learning objectives around the four core Penn State College of Medicine pillars, supported by faculty facilitators. Students then research the learning objectives for collaborative discussion, practical application, and additional question generation through the rest of the week and beyond. Students learn history, physical exam, and presentation skills in PS1 and PS2 and practice in their clinical immersion sites. In addition to the IQ groups and clinical immersions, students participate in collaborative science tutorials for deeper exploration of biomedical science concepts and in Novel Clinical Integrative Sessions (NCIS) for clinical reasoning, clinical skills, and anatomy correlation.

Patient Navigation is an integral part of Patients and Sciences 1 in the University Park track.

Patients and Sciences 1 includes Biomedical, Health Humanities, Health Systems and Clinical Sciences sections.

A week of reflection and assessment occurs in October and December.

Patients and Sciences 2

January to June

The experiences in Patients and Sciences 2 are designed to build on what is learned in Patients and Sciences 1.

Primary Care Immersion is an integral part of Patients and Sciences 2 in the University Park track.

A week of reflection and assessment occurs in March and May.

Primary Care Preceptorship

Middle of April

The Primary Care Preceptorship is an optional experience during spring break that provides an opportunity for first-year medical students to participate in an organized educational experience with physicians who are board certified in the specialties of family medicine, internal medicine, and/or pediatrics. This course is scheduled for one week and requires each student to complete 40 hours within the ambulatory care setting of their designated preceptor.

All clinical training sites are reviewed to ensure the learning environment can provide students with the opportunity to achieve defined learning objectives and the physicians who teach are up-to-date on board certifications. The course offers a clinical experience early in the students’ medical education and exposure to the fundamentals of patient care within the emerging models of health care in the 21st century. Students are offered clinical training experiences within the setting of the Commonwealth of PA, participating practices nationally, and an international track in affiliation with Global Brigades.

Scholarship/Research and Global Health

Summer, end of Year 1

Over the summer, students have the opportunity to do research for the Medical Student Research project and/or participate in Global Health opportunities.

Scholarship/Research and Global Health

Summer, Start of Year 2

Over the summer, students have the opportunity to do research for the Medical Student Research project and/or participate in Global Health opportunities.

Clerkships

Years 2 and 3

Required core clinical clerkships in Internal Medicine, Family and Community Medicine, Psychiatry, Health Equity, Neurology, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Pediatrics and Surgery begin in Year 2 and continue in Year 3.

Integrated Science

Year 2, with breaks

This course will focus on building an integrated sciences approach into second-year medical students’ clinical training. Mastery of the processes covered by the course will enhance students’ ability to think critically about complex, clinical problems through the respective lenses of biomedical sciences, systems and social sciences. This course incorporates a humanities stripe dedicated to student reflection on clinical experiences while providing a supportive environment for sharing difficulties and insights.

Humanities

Year 2, with breaks

Humanities coursework continues through Year 2.

Health Systems in Clerkships

Year 2, with breaks

Health Systems in Clerkships accompanies the Year 2 Clerkships.

Preparing for the USMLE Step Examinations

The University Park Curriculum, with immersive and early clinical experiences, facilitates deep learning of concepts in science and medicine. This will establish a solid foundation for USMLE board preparation. In addition, Collaborative Science Seminars, continuous exposure to board study questions, the Integrated Science Sessions in second-year, the return to foundational science in PS4, and ample dedicated study time before the exam will combine with recognized external study and assessment programs to support successful student performance.

Students prepare for and take USMLE Step 1 before the end of Year 3. Students prepare for and take USMLE Step 2 CK and CS at the end of Year 3 or the beginning of Year 4.

Patients and Sciences 4

The experiences in Patients and Sciences 4 are designed to build on what is learned in Patients and Sciences 1 and 2.

USMLE Study

USMLE study begins midway through the third year.

Translating Health Systems

Phase III includes a two-week Translating Health Systems intersession. This course is designed to help students apply concepts of patient safety, quality improvement, value, and teams to the clinical setting. It provides students with opportunities to actively identify patient safety issues and develop a quality improvement project proposal. By design, this course emphasizes teamwork, an essential component in providing quality patient care. The goal is to guide learning in these concepts so that students will have the base knowledge to help improve care of their patients and the health system in which they will work during the fourth year of medical school and in residencies.

Phase III: Discovery

Phase III includes a discovery phase which allows for board preparation and career exploration as well as acting internships.

Phase IV: Residency Prep

Phase IV includes residency preparation, interviews and two total acting internships in different clinical fields or one acting internship and one critical care rotation.

USMLE Step 2 CK and CS

End of Year 3/Beginning of Year 4

Students prepare for and take USMLE Step 2 CK and CS at the end of Year 3 or the beginning of Year 4.

Phase IV: Residency Prep

Year 4, with breaks

Phase IV includes residency preparation, interviews and two total acting internships in different clinical fields or one acting internship and one critical care rotation.

Students also prepare for and take the USMLE Step 2 CK and CS in the earlier part of Year 4.

Transition to Internship

May

Transition to Internship occurs at the end of each student’s medical school career and builds on these concepts in preparation for residency training. TTI is the final requirement for each graduating fourth year medical school class, taking place just prior to medical school graduation. Its structure includes both large group workshops (involving the entire fourth-year class) and a number of small group “selective” sessions. TTI was designed with goals of providing review and practice of key clinical skills and concepts, as well as introduction of new information regarding communication and collaboration with other health professionals, teaching and evaluation strategies for interns in their educator roles, and practice in effective patient handoffs. The course also includes time for reflection on professional responsibilities, personal stressors and individual support systems.

Graduation

June