Foundations 1 Pre-clerkship Workload Policy


To outline expectations about the amount of time appropriate to schedule for students’ in-class activities and out-of-class activities during the pre-clerkship phase of the curriculum, with the goal of ensuring time for independent study, and an overall manageable workload.


Faculty must provide curriculum and a learning environment that support student learning and safeguard students’ personal health. The curriculum should support the students’ learning of the content and development of self-directed learning skills through a combination of in-class and out-of-class activities, combined with independent study time. Faculty need clear guidelines for determining a schedule of learning for each week, based on student input, data, and feedback and discussion across courses and elements. This policy provides these guidelines, which should be reviewed regularly along with faculty adherence to them, in order to address their efficacy.

Related LCME Standards

6.3: Self-Directed and Life-Long Learning


  1. The expected overall workload per week should aim to be reasonable, providing time to fully engage in a challenging curriculum and time of learning, while also recognizing personal health needs.
  2. Students are expected to be fully engaged in the medical curriculum - required educational activities, assessments, and time for learning must take precedence over all social, supplemental, and service activities. 

  3. The overall workload per week, including all activities across all elements, should be calculable based on a tally of scheduled in-class activities, required out-of-class activities, and an estimate of the independent preparation/study time necessary to master the learning requirements each week.
  4. In-class scheduled activities include: lecture, large group, patient interviews, small group discussions, review sessions, labs, health systems improvement project time, preceptorships, work-place learning, and exams.
  5. Out-of-class required activities include: assigned reading to prepare for in-class sessions, online lessons, other independent modules, and weekly Checkpoints.
  6. All scheduled and required activities must take into account the fact that fatigue impairs learning, and time for self-directed learning and study is critical for learning.
  7. Faculty leadership of each course have responsibility for monitoring workload and ensuring that across all course elements their workload is in alignment with the policy 


  1. Estimated total workload for each course block in the pre-clerkship curriculum should not exceed 60 hours per week.
  2. Total workload hours include all scheduled in-class activities, required out-of-class activities, and an estimate of the time needed to achieve learning goals each week and on exams.
  3. When calculating total workload hours, utilize the formula specified in the procedures below.
  4. Scheduled in-class activities should adhere to the following maximum hours per week per element*, distributed across the weekly footprint: FS elements – 16 hrs, Inquiry – 4 hrs, Clinical Microsystems Clerkship – 8 hrs.


  1. The following formula should be used for calculating workload: all activities (in- and out-of-class) should be multiplied by 2 to provide an estimate of total time needed to invest in mastering the material. Add in time for assigned Checkpoints (2 hrs per week). Exam weeks should include study time (3x length of exam).
  2. For each block, leadership will be responsible for tracking weekly workload estimates across all elements and adjusting so as not to exceed 60 hrs.
  3. Workload hours should be reported as part of the block leadership’s self-study during the CCPR process. The following sets of numbers are to be determined per block (see below).
  4. Student perceptions of workload will be monitored in focus groups and in evaluation questions throughout the curriculum per course, and used during CCPR to compare to estimated workload calculations. These comparisons will help assess efficacy and appropriateness of policy.
  5. Policy will be formally reviewed at F1 Operations annually.
  6. *Exceptions to the 16-hr maximum for Foundational Sciences occur in Groundschool, prior to the launch of the CMC microsystems/workplace learning curriculum. In those weeks, Groundschool Foundational Sciences activities should not exceed 20 hrs per week.
  7. Workload calculations do not include curricular time expected for students in special tracks (e.g. PRIME, MSTP). Communication with program directors and awareness of the medical school curriculum plan is important to ensure overall expectations of these students are reasonable. Overall workload for any student in a special track is not to exceed 80 hrs per week. 

Accountable Dean or Director: Associate Dean for Curriculum

Approval Date and Governing Body:  October 10, 2017, CCEP

Last Updated: August 6, 2018