Curriculum: Year One

Foundations of Medicine

The first year of the curriculum focuses on the fundamentals of medicine.

Taught by faculty from the Medical School, the curriculum begins with the foundational building blocks to study medicine, including fundamentals of anatomy, histology, biochemistry, and molecular and cellular biology; genetics; immunology; and introductory pharmacologic principles. This introductory period includes two new courses, Foundations and Immunity in Defense and Disease, designed to equip students with the knowledge to navigate the study of organ systems.  

These two courses are followed by a month focused on the fundamental social and population sciences – health care policy, social medicine, clinical epidemiology and population health, and medical ethics and professionalism - to provide a foundation of knowledge on which students will build throughout the four years of medical school. The remainder of the preclerkship curriculum will be organized around organ-system-based modules – Homeostasis I and II and Mind, Brain, Behavior and Development – during which structure and function and normal and abnormal processes for each organ system will be integrated—anatomy, physiology, pathophysiology, pathology, pharmacology, imaging, and nutrition.

In this design, students will learn about two complementary organ systems simultaneously in parallel blocks, which allows students more time to digest each system and difficult concepts, to consolidate learning, and to appreciate the complementarity between systems. From the first week of medical school, beginning with the Introduction to the Profession, students will be engaged in a longitudinal clinical course, The Practice of Medicine, which will be integrated with the basic and social science courses and during which students will learn the fundamentals of patient-doctor communication, the physical exam, the dynamics of working in clinical teams and systems, and the process of developing a differential diagnosis. All courses are Pass/Fail.

HSDM students in the first year spend Wednesday mornings observing in the HSDM Teaching Practices clinic, as part of the Practice of Medicine course. The new program incorporates primary care clinical experience by introducing the dental students to the clinical approach as performed by dental and medical professionals and raising the students’ awareness of the increasingly evident links between oral health and systemic health. The aim of this experience is to teach foundational clinical skills and primary care medicine with a focus on oral health, using the primary care rotations for students in a dental setting as a platform for change in our approach to patient care.