The Pre-Clerkship Phase is 18 months long and includes an orientation and acclimation course, followed by instruction in basic scientific and medical knowledge required for the clinical practice of medicine. BaseCamp is a 2-week course designed to facilitate and acclimate students to their new roles as medical students. The curriculum includes Foundations I and II, a 10-week sequence of foundational basic science content and a 50-week sequence of six integrated pathophysiology systems-based blocks, each teaching relevant content in Gross Anatomy, Embryology, Histopathology, Pathology, Physiology, Genetics, Pharmacology, and Imaging. Each integrated systems-based block covers a different area of medicine, and there are ICON weeks devoted to group exercises that ensure the synthesis of concepts and their practical applications.

Phase 1 Weekly Layout

The Phase 1 weekly template is designed to minimize cognitive load and promote effective content delivery and integration. The curriculum is structured to provide early and continuous clinical experiences, increase time for lifelong learning and critical thinking skills, and frequent learner feedback to track progression. The first week of each curricular block includes an introductory session, small group interactive sessions, and independent learning study blocks. The second week and succeeding weeks are divided into three learning groups with rotating block sessions that focus on clinical skills, inpatient sessions, goal-driven exploration, and ambulatory patient experiences. The focus on clinical experiences, hands-on group exercises, and self-directed learning opportunities helps to prepare students for active participation in clinical experiences while the use of rotating block sessions and learner feedback also helps to keep the curriculum engaging and relevant to student needs.

Clinical Skills Course

The Clinical Skills Course in Phase 1 focuses on the development of clinical skills necessary for Phase 2 and future medical practice. The course provides a strong foundation for future clinical practice, as well as ethical and professional conduct. It consists of two educational cores: Medical Decision-Making and Professional Identity Formation. The Medical Decision-Making core includes the use of simulations and standardized patients to develop clinical skills, while the Professional Identity Formation core focuses on developing medical students as future physicians with a strong professional identity. Topics covered in this core include medical ethics, health disparities, social justice, and communication skills for sensitive issues.

Rotating Block Sessions

The four Rotating Block Sessions are designed to provide medical students with a well-rounded and comprehensive learning experience during Phase 1 of their training.

  • The first session is the Clinical Skills Course Session (Clinical Skills) where students learn clinical skills through simulation using mannequins or standardized patients. These simulation-based learning sessions occur twice every 4 weeks for the first 6 months of Phase 1 and once every 4 weeks thereafter.
  • The second session, the Clinical Skills Course Session (patient-centered experience), replaces the second Physical Diagnosis session after 6 months and involves structured inpatient sessions directed by Clinical Skills Course Directors.
  • The third session is Goal-Driven Exploration, which involves student-driven activities stemming from Progress and Planning (PROP) sessions. These activities are monitored and may include skill or knowledge development, wellness activities, career exploration through structured clinical shadowing, Careers in Medicine (CIM) activities, or research. This allows students to explore areas of interest and develop their skills and knowledge.
  • The fourth session is the Ambulatory Patient Experiences (APEX), where students are assigned to primary care clinic offices for the entire Phase 1. This monthly activity occurs in the 4th week of the block. APEX provides a unique opportunity for students to learn and observe the delivery of primary care.

Ambulatory Patient Experience (APEX)

The Ambulatory Patient Experience (APEX) provides early and longitudinal exposure to patient care for medical students in Phases 1, 2, and 3. It develops their clinical skills, fosters engagement with patients, and promotes a patient-centered approach to medical care.

In Phase 1, students are assigned to a primary care site one afternoon each month and are expected to direct their own learning by utilizing the clinical site as a “laboratory” to contextualize what they have been learning in the classroom. This helps to increase student engagement with patients and their care, and introduces students to primary care and urgent/emergent care shifts every 4th month.