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Medical Education
Medical Student Education

Clinical Studies

The Clinical Studies curriculum consists of the third-year core clerkships and fourth-year rotations. Building on the skills and knowledge developed in the Essential Core's interdisciplinary blocks, Clinical Studies offers students a range of experiences and opportunities in the fields of medicine. All of these place new emphasis on connections across disciplines, on thematic learning objectives, and on student-directed discussion that follows clinical experiences.  Throughout, the curriculum emphasizes student-directed learning, connections across disciplines, and competency-based education.

Year 3 – Clinical Core Clerkships

Transitional Clerkship (TC) is considered the first clerkship of the year. This 2-week clerkship consists of multiple components: inpatient clinical preceptorships, procedure sessions, lectures, and a small group. TC introduces rising third-year students to the inpatient setting in a hands-on, low-stakes, feedback-rich environment. Students perform histories and physicals and learn to “round” with clinical teams; practice oral presentations and note writing; they will learn how to function on the wards, use the hospital computer system, and find important clinical information. They will also have an introduction to common procedures including venipuncture and suturing.           

The required Core Clerkships comprise: Anesthesia, Family & Community Medicine, Medicine, Neurology/Psychiatry, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Pediatrics, and Surgery. Clerkships are available at a variety of teaching sites in San Francisco, Oakland, Marin, and Fresno. Students may choose between the Traditional Program (in which students complete one individual clerkship at a time) and one of a variety of Structured Programs that offer integrated, longitudinal experiences at Parnassus, SFGH, UCSF Fresno, the VA Hospital, or Kaiser Oakland. Students are also required to complete a selective in a surgical subspecialty.

Through a yearlong Longitudinal Clinical Experience (LCE), students will develop a long-term relationship with preceptors that will facilitate both modeling and mentoring, have the opportunity to work in the outpatient setting, experience a longitudinal relationship with a specific type of patient population, and gain instight into the impact of chronic illness on patients and families.

During each of three Intersessions, students return to the classroom to engage in discussions of ethics, evidence-based medicine, and health policy. Students also revisit basic science topics during these periods to refresh their knowledge.

All students complete the Clinical Performance Exam (CPX) at the end of the core clerkship year. Two mini-CPX sessions provide students with experience conducting encounters with standardized patients in order to familiarize them with expectations in the Clinical Performance Exam (CPX).

Year 4 – Advanced Clinical Studies

During the fourth year, students choose from a variety of clinical electives as they begin to focus on the specialties that most capture their interest. In addition to advanced clinical rotations, including subinternship rotations, students may also engage in research or international work. All students will take the USMLE Step 2 CK and CS exams during the fourth year, as well as submit applications and attend interviews for residency positions. The fourth year for all students concludes with the required Coda course during the spring quarter of their graduation.