Core Inquiry Curriculum

This graphic describes one of the processes that will be covered in the courseThe Core Inquiry Curriculum (CIC) compromises the major component of the Inquiry curriculum during Foundations 1 (F1), along with Inquiry Immersion in January. During CIC, weekly sessions students engage in weekly, faculty-facilitated small-group sessions in which they explore current, complex, and cutting-edge scientific or health care problems through the lens of two or more scientific disciplines (e.g., the appropriate response to electronic cigarettes, or new approaches to antimicrobial resistance). Through this component of the curriculum, students build competency in using inquiry tools from each of the six Domains of Understanding and their related methods of discovery and innovation, including epidemiology, biostatistics, and medical ethics. Sessions are focus on process over content. 

The CIC fosters an Inquiry Habit of Mind which we defined as a “settled or tendency of practice; practice that is hard to give up; mental constitution.” Linking this to inquiry skills, a physician who embodies an Inquiry Habit of Mind embodies the following lifelong practice characteristics:

  • Curious, logical, and skeptical
  • Comfort with ambiguity
  • Integrates information and applies it to new problems
  • Recognizes limits of existing (and one’s own) knowledge

Components of Core Inquiry Curriculum

Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Population Sciences (EBPS) Curriculum

EBPS compromises tools that all Domains of Understanding rely upon, allowing for the interpretation of data and for researchers and clinicians to test hypotheses of complex questions. The EBPS curriculum during F1 is imbedded within CIC. Through lectures and small groups, the curriculum provides essential training in biostatistical and epidemiological methods to empower students to critically assess evidence from published studies and apply their assessment in practice later in a Deep Dive. 

The curriculum is divided into six blocks—each intentionally layered within clinical and foundational science content.  

  • Block 1: What is epidemiology and biostatics and why should a physician care? Foundational motivation and structure of human subject research – Ground School

  • Block 2: How do we determine cause? Fundamentals of Causal Inference. -  Ground School

  • Block 3:  How to address causation in observational studies and what can be done next once causation is established? More advanced aspects of causal inference.  - ABC 1

  • Block 4: What can we predict: Fundamentals of prediction and uses in diagnosis and prognosis. - Health and the Individual

  • Block 5: What to do after the evidence is in: Cost-effectiveness and dissemination.  - Health and Society

  • Block 6: Applications of Epidemiology and Biostatistics. - Health and Society

Journal Clubs

In these sessions, students participate as sophisticated and critical consumers of the literature. Student leaders guide groups through reading and interpretation of a scientific paper from the medical literature. These papers are chosen to integrate well with the Foundational Sciences curriculum, often providing an in-depth look at important topics, which also highlight key educational objectives, and cutting-edge or seminal research. 

Inquiry Cases

These small group experiences are a major component of the Core Inquiry Curriculum throughout F1. Cases are designed to integrate critical content from the Foundational Sciences element while the subjects are designed to take students on a deep dive into important contemporary issues facing clinicians while also exercising their Inquiry skills and utilizing Problem-based Learning Discussion (PBLD).

Frontiers of Medicine

The Frontiers in Medicine (FIM) lecture series, which is often tied to the content of the concurrent Foundational Sciences content, is designed to introduce topics and methods of research that highlights the best and the brightest scholars, featured national and international figures, and aims to introduce students to the breadth and depth of faculty available as mentors at UCSF. 

Graphic of curriculum components of Core Inquiry Curriculum