College of Medicine > MD Program
UH College of Medicine’s unique and innovative curriculum will prepare students to practice high-quality, high-value patient-centered medicine in a rapidly changing and complex health system. We place a major emphasis on primary care in under served populations, social determinants of health, community and population health, and behavioral health to improve health care disparities in urban and rural areas.
Throughout the four-year curriculum, students will be immersed in a highly integrated approach to the teaching of biomedical, clinical, behavioral and social, health system and population health sciences, complemented with robust experiential learning.
The UH College of Medicine pre-clerkship is based on four pillars of foundational science, and clinical knowledge and experience: Biomedical Sciences; Physicians, Patients, and Populations; Longitudinal Primary Care; and Clinical Focus Sessions.
Biomedical Sciences courses provide foundational medical science knowledge, essential to practicing medicine. The courses are taught in an integrated format and cover the following disciplines: anatomy, embryology, histology, physiology, pathophysiology, and the underlying symptoms, diagnoses, causes and treatments of common to complex conditions and diseases.
- Clinical Anatomy and Human development (9 weeks)
Course focus: Gross anatomy, basics of histology, embryology and human development
- Scientific Foundations of Medicine (9 weeks)
Course focus: Molecular and cell biology, human genetics, key biochemical and metabolic pathways, and introduction to pharmacology and immunology
- Integrated Organ-System Courses (9 courses: 3-6 weeks per course)
Course focus: Gross anatomy, basics of histology, embryology and human development
- Integumentary System
- Hematologic and Lymphatic Systems
- Nervous System
- Musculoskeletal System
- Gastrointestinal System and Nutrition
- Cardiovascular and Respiratory Systems
- Renal and Urinary Systems
- Reproductive and Endocrine Systems
- Behavioral Medicine
Throughout the pre-clerkship phase, the Physicians, Patients and Populations (PPP) courses develop physician-patient knowledge and competencies related to clinical skills. PPP topics include communication, professionalism, medical ethics, social determinants, health disparities, evidence-based medicine, clinical reasoning and decision-making, population health, health informatics, quality improvement, patient safety, scientific methodology, health systems and policy.
A student scholarly project will be one of the requirements, the results of which will be presented at a UH College of Medicine Research Day.
The Longitudinal Primary Care (LPC) course runs all four years of the MD program. In the pre-clerkship phase of the LPC course, PPP knowledge and competencies are applied in real-world settings through two types of patient experiences:
- Continuity Clinic (4 hours per week)
Long-term placement in an ambulatory clinical setting to practice history-taking, physical examination, communication skills and patient management on patients - under the supervision of attending primary care physicians. Students will learn to function as a member of a primary care team, providing continuity of care to patients.
- Household-centered Care (10 total visits)
As part of an interprofessional team, students will make ten visits to a household facing complex health challenges to learn about the social determinants of health (SDOH), how to identify appropriate support services and make referrals. The interprofessional team will consist of physician faculty, community health workers and professional students from other UH colleges, such as pharmacy and social work. During household-centered care, students will design and participate in community-oriented, quality improvement projects designed to address SDOH at the community level.
Interspersed throughout the pre-clerkship are six one-week Clinical Focus Sessions. Each session is dedicated to a different interdisciplinary topic related to the College of Medicine’s mission and today’s societal medical challenges. The sessions integrate biomedical science concepts with important clinical and population-oriented aspects of health and health care.
- Clinical Focus Session 1: Our Community, Our Mission
Introduces students to the neighboring historic Third Ward community of Houston, Texas and the social determinants of health that impact its residents.
- Clinical Focus Session 2: Closing the Quality Gap
Explores the health of populations, health equity, health disparities and models for quality improvement in health care. Through project-based learning, students will integrate biomedical, clinical, health systems and behavioral sciences.
- Clinical Focus Session 3: Coping with Pain
Explores the biomedical science of pain, the prevalence of chronic pain in the U.S., clinical tools to assess pain and interprofessional modalities to treat it. Through project-based learning, students will integrate biomedical, clinical, health systems and behavioral sciences.
- Clinical Focus Session 4: Transcending Borders
Explores multiple topics related to global health including neglected tropical diseases, stigmatization, social determinants of health worldwide, and unique aspects of health care for refugee and immigrant populations. Through project-based learning, students will integrate biomedical, clinical, health systems and behavioral sciences.
- Clinical Focus Session 5: Living and Dying with Dignity
Examines and emphasizes the importance of end of life and palliative care. Students will explore comprehensive methods to assess emotional and physical pain near the end of life, and how to identify the emotional and spiritual needs of patients in a team-oriented approach. Through project-based learning, students will integrate biomedical, clinical, health systems and behavioral sciences.
- Clinical Focus Session 6: From Substance Abuse to Thriving Life
This session will focus on the continuum from substance misuse to addiction and evidence-based interventions that can return the patient to a thriving life.
Advancement to the Phase 2: Core Clerkship includes completion of the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) Comprehensive Basic Science Examination and the Transitions to Clerkship course.
- NBME Comprehensive Basic Science Examination
Two weeks will be dedicated to CBSE review and testing to assess comprehension of pre-clerkship knowledge and content (no grade will be recorded on the student transcript).
- Transition to Clerkships (T2C) Course
The T2C course reinforces both the oral presentation and clinical skills needed in hands-on care of patients throughout the remainder of the curriculum. This course will include Advanced Cardiac Life Support (students are expected to have Basic Life Support training complete upon matriculation) as well as a review of common clinical procedures, ECG, common x-ray interpretation, history-taking and note writing.
The UH College of Medicine core clerkship provides patient encounters from the six core clinical disciplines - surgery, internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics-gynecology, family medicine and psychiatry - through the Longitudinal Integrated Clerkship and continuation of the Longitudinal Primary Care.
Throughout the core clerkship, UH College of Medicine students will participate in the Longitudinal Integrated Clerkship (LIC), which is based on a hybrid-rotation model that exposes students to various fields of medicine, simultaneously, for enhanced learning and retention of knowledge. In this model, learning occurs within concentrated experiences in four hospital-based inpatient settings of internal medicine, surgery, pediatrics and obstetrics-gynecology. In addition, students will learn across longitudinal, primarily ambulatory, experiences to allow continuity of patient contact and care, assessment and supervision, and clinical and cultural engagement.
LIC experiences include:
- Four immersion rotations (4 weeks each)
Surgery, internal medicine, pediatrics and obstetrics-gynecology
- Longitudinal ambulatory experience (24 weeks)
Will include encounters in surgery, internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics-gynecology, family medicine and psychiatry
- Additional weekly educational sessions (4 hours per week)
Sessions will include case-based conferences to reaffirm the fundamental principles of evaluation and management of common clinical problems, patient simulations and core biomedical content.
Longitudinal Primary Care
During the core clerkship, Longitudinal Primary Care experiences focus on patient interaction, diagnosis and treatment in a continuity clinic and household-centered care.
Advancement to Phase 3
Advancement to the Advanced Clerkship Curriculum includes successful completion of the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Step 1 examination.
- USMLE Step 1 Examination
Students will have six weeks, before beginning Phase 3, to prepare for and take the USMLE Step 1 exam. (If needed, up to eight weeks will be allowed).
The advanced clerkship allows students to pursue individual interests and includes advanced rotations, elective experiences and continuation of Longitudinal Primary Care. During the advanced clerkship, students will be allowed to spend up to eight weeks interviewing for residency positions.
- Intensive Care Unit (4-week rotation)
Students may choose medical, surgical, neurological, pediatric or newborn ICU
- Sub-internship (4-week rotation)
Students may choose medicine, surgery, pediatrics, obstetrics-gynecology, psychiatry, neurology or family medicine
- Emergency Medicine (4-week rotation)
Rural Health (4-week rotation)
Students will work with their advisors to determine their electives. Students will have the option, and be encouraged, to spend up to 12 weeks of their elective time in the development of a scholarly concentration, and completion of a scholarly project. Scholarly concentrations can be in the field of primary care, community health, population health, global health, health informatics, health care administration, quality improvement, patient safety, health policy or biomedical ethics. Scholarly projects can focus on original research, systematic review of the medical literature, quality improvement initiative, community engagement and partnership project to improve community health.
During the advanced clerkship, Longitudinal Primary Care experiences focus on patient interaction, diagnosis and treatment in a continuity clinic and household-centered care.
Completion of the UH College of Medicine MD program includes successful completion of the USMLE Step 2CK (Clinical Knowledge) and Step 2 CS (Clinical Skills) examinations and the Transition to Residency course.
- USMLE Step 2 CK/CS examinations
The passing of the USMLE Step 2 CK and Step 2 CS will be required prior to graduation.
- Transition to Residency (T2R) course
The T2R course provides intensive review and learning activities to ensure that each student has completed the medical education program competencies and objectives and possesses the knowledge, skills, behaviors, and attitudes necessary to successfully perform as a first-year resident in their chosen specialty.