LEARN Curriculum: Phase I


Transition to Medical School 
Transition to Medical School is a two-week course that is designed to foster new medical students’ transition from a lay person to a medical professional in training.

Course Goals

  • To facilitate the transition from a lay person to a medical professional in training
  • To understand the role of professionalism in medicine 
  • To initiate the development of professional identity among trainees 
  • To facilitate academic success
  • To initiate pathways to lifelong learning
  • To promote teamwork amongst learners
  • To develop skills in self- and peer assessment and feedback

Course Objectives
At the end of the Transition to Medical School course, participants will be able to:

  • list the qualities of a medical professional;
  • articulate an individual strategy for learning success;
  • work in learning teams to assess a clinical problem;
  • assess and critique self and peer performance in team activities; and
  • provide specific verbal feedback to peers regarding performance in team activities.

Biomedical Building Blocks 
Biomedical Building Blocks is a six month course that integrates the basic and clinical sciences. The course is organized into four distinct components – The Body, Molecular Foundations of Medicine, Basic Mechanisms of Disease and Pathogens and Host Defense – with required pass for each component for the successful completion of this course. The course integrates the disciplines of biochemistry, genetics, cell biology, cellular physiology, basic principles of pharmacology, anatomy, introduction to radiology, introduction to orthopedics, immunology, microbiology, inflammation, homeostasis, rheumatologic and dermatologic diseases, pathology, hematology and oncology. Biomedical Building Blocks is taught by many faculty from several basic science and clinical departments in an integrated and contextual manner.

Course Goals:

  • Develop an understanding of the structural features of the human body as they relate to normal function
  • Understand the role of normal biochemical and molecular processes and how they may be impaired following disease
  • Understand the relationship between the human host and the microbial world
  • Understand the general mechanisms that underlay disease processes

Course Objectives
At the end of the Biomedical Building Blocks course, students will be able to:

  • recall the overall structure of the human body at the gross and microscopic level including the changes that occur during development;
  • articulate the various biochemical pathways involved in the metabolism of macromolecules and how alterations may manifest as disease;
  • describe the normal relationship of cellular and subcellular components and recount how alterations derived from internal and external factors can lead to disease;
  • demonstrate the basic principles by which the body metabolizes and distributes pharmacologic components;
  • list and describe the components of the human immune system that protect the host against microbial pathogens;
  • understand how pathogens and host responses to pathogens can lead to acute and chronic diseases,
  • understand and describe diseases of the immune system;
  • recognize and describe the mechanisms that lead to neoplasia and the host response to selected neoplastic processes;
  • understand the principles of hemostasis and how alterations lead to disease; and
  • understand the role of the skin in host defense and how localized and systemic defects lead to dermatologic disease.


Integrated Pathophysiology 
The Integrated Pathophysiology course is comprised of four systems-based blocks:

  • Cardiovascular-Pulmonary-Renal
  • Gastrointestinal-Nutrition
  • Endocrine-Reproductive
  • Mind-Brain-Behavior
  • Musculoskeletal-Rheumatology

Integrated across these systems are physiology, histology, pathology, histopathology and pharmacology. 



Introduction to Clinical Medicine
Introduction to Clinical Medicine (ICM) is an 18-month course that is introduced in Phase IA and continues through to the end of Phase IB. In Phase IA, ICM introduces students to the clinical skills required to examine and integrate clinical information from patient history and physical exam with knowledge of pathophysiology and psychological factors in order to diagnose disease, prepare a differential diagnosis and account for biomedical and psychosocial data. In Phase IB, ICM reviews the knowledge and skills students began to develop in the course during Phase IA, then dives more deeply into clinical medicine concepts and skills through the introduction of pathology within the context of clinical medicine. The course aims to further develop students’ clinical reasoning skills in preparation for entry into Phase II, the Primary Clinical Phase.

Medicine in Contemporary Society
Medicine in Contemporary Society (MCS) is a 12-month course in the first academic year of Phase I. MCS provides students with an introduction to the compassionate and clinical practice of medicine while beginning to shape their developing professional identities. The course aims to teach students to become complete doctors who treat complete people, rather than just treating illnesses. Course activities are designed to help students to:

  • demonstrate an awareness of how emotions, attitudes and behaviors affect patient care;
  • work effectively as a member of a team by demonstrating respect, leadership and compassion in all interactions;
  • obtain a comprehensive health history, including attentiveness to the patient’s illness experience, and perform a complete physical exam;
  • utilize an evidence based approach to exploring clinical questions, evaluate critically the medical literature, and effectively communicate research findings to patients and other health professionals; and
  • decide on an ethical course of action taking into account the values, preferences and goals of patients and families, consistent with patient centered care.

The course forms a bridge between the foundational work done in Phase I and the experience of clinical medicine which follows in Phases II and III. MCS is formative in focus, drawing on cases and experiences and challenges faced by students and faculty learning to practice medicine ethically and compassionately.

Themes in Medical Education 
Five Themes in Medical Education (TiME) are threaded across all three phases of the LEARN curriculum. These themes are offered in one-week blocks during intersessions, as well as woven into several courses and clerkships throughout all three phases. The themes reflect the types of medical care we seek to develop in our students:

  • Patient and Family Centered Care
  • Evidence Based Care
  • Patient Safety and Quality Care
  • Ethical and Professional Care
  • Health Promotion and Preventive Care