Essential Core

The Essential Core constitutes the first 18 months of medical school and consists of 9 interdisciplinary block courses organized around central themes or systems. Foundations of Patient Care (FPC), a longitudinal clinical and interviewing skills course, runs for both years. Each of the other blocks courses tackle a major biological theme; the basic and clinical sciences relevant to this theme are intertwined with other aspects of the practice of medicine, including public health, epidemiology, and the social and behavioral sciences.

The Essential Core provides many opportunities for active and collaborative learning. The curriculum also fosters each student's professional stake in learning. Students are responsible for small group preparation and attendance. Evaluations of courses and faculty are also part of students' professional commitment. Lectures, labs, and small group sessions account for about 20 hours a week, integrating subjects from the basic, social, and clinical sciences.

All courses utilize the online course management system known as iROCKET. First and second year students typically enroll in electives to supplement required coursework and gain clinical experience through volunteer work at any number of UCSF-affiliated projects.

Year 1 Blocks

  • Prologue: An introduction to essential anatomy, biochemistry, pharmacology, histopathology, genetics, and social and behavioral sciences, all linked together as a Foundation for Patient Care (FPC).
  • Major Organ Systems: An integrated approach to investigating the cardiovascular, pulmonary, and renal systems.
  • Metabolism & Nutrition (M&N): An investigation of the gastrointestinal system, endocrinology, and metabolic issues, with additional emphasis on prevention of disorders in these areas and on counseling for nutritional health.
  • Brain, Mind, & Behavior (BMB): A comprehensive overview of general principles in neuroscience, neurology, and psychiatry.
  • Foundations of Patient Care (FPC): A block that spans the entire Essential Core, covering clinical skills and reasoning, doctor-patient interaction, ethics, and professional development. Students are encouraged to undertake independent and self-directed learning and reflection using Portfolio. Clinical Interlude is a three-day immersion in the hospital setting that provides students their first in-patient experience just before winter break in the first year.

Year 2 Blocks

  • Infection, Inflammation, & Immunity (I3): The first block of the second-year, covering microbiology, immunology, and infectious disease as well as public and international health issues.
  • Mechanisms, Methods, & Malignancies (M3): An integrated and innovative look at human cancer, with emphasis on the molecular mechanisms that underlie cancer development and treatment; epidemiology; pathology; genetics; clinical oncology; hematology; social and behavioral sciences and ethics.
  • Life Cycle/Epilogue: A study of the human developmental sequence, considering special topics in childhood and adolescent medicine, men's and women's health, and aging. One day a week, in the Epilogue component, students review and integrate concepts presented earlier in the Essential Core through case-based study in large and small groups. Epilogue also provides coordinated preparation for the USMLE Step 1 Exam that concludes the second year.  
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