Throughout the four years, the curriculum combines the practice and science of medicine. Patient contact begins early in the first year and increases throughout the four years. The curriculum is a thoughtful balance of lecture courses, problem-based small-group courses, hands-on laboratories, and hospital and community-based clinical experiences. At the center of the curriculum is the patient, the science of medicine, and the physician's role in improving the health of individuals and communities. Students adapt the curriculum to their own learning styles. Some students prefer to learn from lectures; others from self-study of notes provided by faculty or from texts and computer materials.
First Year: In the first year, students develop an understanding of normal human biology and its relationship to the practice of medicine. Instruction in physiology, genetics, biochemistry, anatomy, histology and neuroscience present the scientific core of the physician's knowledge base. At the same time, the students' advancing scientific knowledge is integrated with clinical applications in the Practice of Medicine course. In small-group, problem-based experiences, students interview patients in hospitals and in other health care settings and learn to take patients' histories and conduct physical examinations. During the first year, students meet with physicians on a one-to-one basis in the mentoring program.
Second Year: The coordinating theme of the second year is provided by the problem-based course, Introduction to Clinical medicine. This course consists of clinical case studies which students solve in small group tutorials led by physicians. During the year, students also work on a one-to-one basis with physicians to develop their skills in taking medical histories and conducting physical exams. Other courses such as pathology and pharmacology are coordinated with Introduction of Clinical Medicine to emphasize the clinical correlations between medical science and medical practice. In the spring of the second year, each student participates in a preceptorship to work with a doctor in a community practice. Students go to many areas of Virginia for their preceptorship and live in those communities for the week.
Third Year: The third year is devoted to clinical training. Students take clerkships in medicine, surgery, pediatrics, primary care, psychiatry, and obstetrics and gynecology. There is extensive direct contact with patients, and students work with a well-balanced patient population, which includes primary, secondary, and tertiary care. Teaching is related to the patient on rounds and in small tutorial seminars, lectures and group discussions. Emphasis is given to the principles of prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and the continuing integration of clinical medicine with medical sciences and the psychological factors that influence health. Students work in small groups and rotate among many clinical services, gaining practical experience under supervision in the wards and outpatient clinics of the University of Virginia hospitals, the Roanoke Community Hospitals, the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Salem, the Western State Hospital, and INOVA Fairfax Hospital in Northern Virginia. The teaching programs at the affiliated hospitals allow students to observe the practice of medicine in multiple settings and gain exposure to a somewhat different spectrum of illnesses than that seen at the University of Virginia. During their third year, all students spend an average of 22 weeks away from Charlottesville in affiliated clerkship locations.
Fourth Year: The electives program in the fourth year allows students to pursue their own interests. Under the guidance of a faculty advisor, students choose clinical rotations, basic science and humanities courses, and research activities. Clinical rotations are available at sites in Salem, Roanoke, Lynchburg, Fairfax, and Charlottesville. Programs are tailored to meet individual interests and needs, including a selection of programs in other domestic and foreign settings, in appropriate community medicine programs, or in other activities of suitable educational merit. Students also complete their four-week neurology clerkship in the fourth year.
Philosophy of Medical Education
At the University of Virginia, we believe that art and science should be blended in medical education. Our mission is to confer scientific knowledge and skill and to convey an appreciation of the interpersonal qualities of comfort, care and understanding essential for a complete physician-patient relationship.
Two fundamental components of our educational philosophy are, first, that principles of problem understanding and management are more important than retention of isolated facts, and second, that learning is facilitated by the presence of the patient. Thus, we correlate principles of basic science with presentation of the patient in the first two years, teach clinical medicine by utilizing real patient problems, and emphasize teaching at the bedside and in the clinic whenever possible. These methods enhance the base of meaningful knowledge that can be readily recalled and applied. The School is also committed to small group and individual teaching in which interaction between student and faculty can be maximized.
The degree of Doctor of Medicine is conferred by the University of Virginia upon candidates who have complied with the entrance requirements of this School and satisfactorily completed the subjects included in the medical curriculum.
Candidates for the degree of Doctor of Medicine must have completed the full course of study for this degree and must be certified by the faculty as having successfully met all of the criteria. These include satisfactory completion of the preclinical courses of the first two years, 52 weeks of required clinical clerkships, and 28 weeks of electives. In addition, the student must take and pass Step 1 and Step 2 of the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). Furthermore, students must demonstrate those professional attitudes and behaviors that form the foundation upon which the practice of medicine rests. The elements of these attitudes and behaviors include altruism, accountability, honor, integrity, humanism, commitment to service, and striving for excellence.
Fundamental Objectives for Undergraduate Medical Education
The Curriculum Committee has adapted a set of fundamental objectives for the undergraduate medical education based on findings of the 1998 University of Virginia School of Medicine Task Force on Medical School Objectives. These are presented in outline form.
The competencies required of the contemporary physician include:
- The development and practice of a set of personal and professional attributes that enable the independent performance of the responsibilities of a physician and the ability to adapt to the evolving practice of medicine. These include an attitude of:
- Humanism, compassion and empathy,
- Collegiality and interdisciplinary collaboration,
- Continuing and lifelong self education,
- Awareness of a Personal response to one's personal and profession limits,
- Community and social service,
- Ethical personal and professional conduct,
- Legal standards and conduct,
- Economic awareness in clinical practice;
- Competence in the human sciences:
- in the understanding of current clinically relevant medical science
- in scientific principles as they apply to the analysis and further expansion of medical knowledge.
- The ability to engage and involve any patient in a relationship for the purpose of clinical problem solving and care throughout the duration of the relationship,
- Eliciting a clinical history,
- Performing a physical examination,
- Generating and refining a prioritized differential diagnosis for a clinical finding or set of findings,
- Developing and refining a plan of care for both the prevention and treatment of illness and the relief of symptoms and suffering,
- Developing a prognosis for an individual, family or population based upon health risk or diagnosis, with and without intervention, and planning appropriate follow-up,
- Selecting and interpreting clinical tests for the purpose of health screening and prevention, diagnosis, prognosis or intervention,
- Organizing, recording, presenting, researching, critiquing and managing clinical information,
- Selecting and performing procedural skills related to physical examination, clinical testing and therapeutic intervention, and
- Knowledge of the social, economic, ethical, legal and historical context within which medicine is practiced.
Combined Degree Programs
MD/PhD (NIH Medical Scientist Training) Program
This program offers a combined MD/PhD degree program for students interested in careers in academic medicine. The aim of the program is to provide students with the highest quality training in the basic sciences and a firm grounding in clinical medicine. Students in the program work over a period of 6 to 7 years to receive an M.D. and a Ph.D. degree. The curriculum is tailored to meet the goals of the individual student. The Ph.D. degree may be achieved in any of the School of Medicine basic science programs or in a number of affiliated science and engineering programs. The program is intended for students who are planning careers in academic medicine with a significant component of research. Graduates are expected to make significant contributions to the fields of medical science and to contribute substantially to the training of new physicians and scientists.
MD/MS Health Evaluation Sciences
This joint MD/Master of Science program is designed to develop the research, analytic, and quantitative skills that students need to succeed in a variety of health careers. The Master of Science portion of the program can be completed in one academic year after the third year of medical school. Five areas of specialization are offered: epidemiology, clinical investigation, health services research, health care informatics, and health care resource management. Students choose an area of particular interest to them and complete core and specialized courses and a final project.
The School of Medicine and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences offer an M.A. degree in Bioethics. Medical students at the School of Medicine may apply for this program which can be pursued along with their professional training. Students interested in this program should plan on extending their educational experience by one year.
Time Limit for Completion of the M.D. Degree
Students must complete the requirements for the M.D. degree within seven years of matriculation in the School of Medicine. Those who are making progress toward graduation but who will exceed the seven-year limit may apply to the Student Promotions Committee for one-year extension. The Committee may grant more than one extension; application must be made on a yearly basis.
Facilities and Research Centers
At the heart of the 140,000 square feet of School of Medicine teaching space is Jordan Hall, a seven-story structure that houses the lecture halls and laboratory facilities for the preclinical phase of the curriculum. The first floor of Jordan Hall contains two lecture auditoriums, each seating 152 students, as well as a smaller seminar room. The second floor houses additional student laboratories designed for both individual exercises in histology and pathology as well as group experiments and teaching sessions in microbiology. The rest of the second floor contains basic science research laboratories. Third through seventh floors of Jordan Hall are occupied by the academic offices and research laboratories of the departments of Cell Biology, Physiology, Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, and Microbiology. The newest addition to Jordan Hall is a full-equipped conference center, consisting of a 170-seat auditorium and six adjoining conference rooms.
Claude Moore Health Sciences Library
The Claude Moore Health Sciences Library serves the faculty, students, and staff of the University of Virginia Health System, which includes the Schools of Medicine and Nursing, the hospital, and the clinics. The Library's resources are also available to the University community and to health practitioners throughout Virginia. The Library is a modern, fully networked facility with small group study rooms, computer classrooms, a computer lab, and photocopying machines. Free self-service searching of journal and full text databases, such as MEDLINE, is available. All basic services of the Library are computerized for in-house and remote access.
The Library maintains well-developed collections of books, journals, and audiovisuals in medicine, nursing, and related areas. The Library offers numerous databases related to health care for easy citation retrieval and increasing numbers of full-text online journals and textbooks. Documents from the collection or from other libraries on Grounds can be delivered for a fee. A reserve collection contains basic medical and nursing texts, as well as items put on temporary reserve by course instructors. The reference collection includes directories, dictionaries, indexes, statistical sources, and other research tools.
The Learning Resources Center, on the first floor of the Library maintains a collection of videocassettes and other computer software. A variety of players, projectors, recorders, monitors, and computers is available. A state-of-the-art computer classroom is available for use in computer-based instruction.
The Library's services, resources, and policies are all accessible from an extensive website at: http://www.med.virginia.edu/hs-library/
The research facilities of the School of Medicine include laboratories located in the old Medical School Building, Cobb Hall, Stacey Hall, Jordan Hall, and the MedicalResearch Buildings, and represent more than 500,000 square feet of dedicated space. Each of the five upper floors of Jordan Hall houses the offices and laboratories of one of the basic science departments. Components of the Cancer Center, the Diabetes Center, and several research service core labs occupy parts of the first and second floors of Jordan Hall. Clinical departments have their research labs in the old Medical School Building, Cobb Hall, the Medical Research Buildings, and the first two floors of Jordan Hall. In addition, the new Bioengineering and Medical Sciences Building houses research labs of the Departments of Pathology, Biomedical Engineering, and the Cardiovascular Research Center.
Medical Student Research Programs
Medical students participate to an increasing extent in the research programs of the School of Medicine. There is an active summer research program following the first year of medical school, and further research activities are encouraged thereafter during elective periods. Medical students may also elect to extend their medical education to include a year of basic science or clinical research without an additional year's tuition. The student will prepare a research proposal outlining the hypothesis for the project, methods, and a time schedule that must be approved by the student's research supervisory committee. To complete the program, the student will present the initial proposal and a final report in the format of a scientific paper. Recognition for the research year will appear on the student's transcript.
Medical Student Organizations
In 1967 students from all four classes created the Mulholland Society, an all-inclusive student body that would provide greater interaction among the four classes, a unified student voice to promote the interests of medical students, and an outlet for the academic, social, and athletic interests of students. Instead of calling it a student body, however, it was named a "society" to emphasize the importance of camaraderie and teamwork within and between classes. They named this society in honor of the late Dr. Henry Bearden Mulholland, one of the most distinguished figures in American medicine, whose entire career was spent at the University of Virginia from 1917 to 1962. The society chose his name in honor of his special interest in student affairs and because he represented "the best in medicine, not only in the classroom but in the community."
Mulholland Society Council (The Medical Student Government) The Council works to monitor and improve all aspects of medical student life, both in and out of the classroom. All class officers and Mulholland Society officers sit on the Council. The Student Medical Education Committee exists to provide coordination for medical student input on medical education issues to the various faculty administration committees and the Dean's office. Students also sit on the Curriculum Committee, the Admissions Committee and the Dean's advisory committee. Membership on standing committees is open to any interested students, and Council meetings are always open.
American Medical Student Association: The local chapter of AMSA was founded in 1994 and offers students a mix of community service opportunities such as Habitat for Humanity, benefits such as health insurance and loan programs, grants for local projects and elective rotations abroad and even a summer elective class in medical Spanish. The two primary goals of the organization are to provide students with needed services and support, and to help students get involved in service-oriented community-based activities.
American Medical Women's Association: AMWA addresses medical issues that are vital to women's health, prepares women for leadership positions in medicine, and promotes equity in professional status and pay. A physician branch and a student branch are open to women who are faculty, residents, or medical students at the University of Virginia. Student members are eligible to apply for loans and scholarships.
The Arrhythmics: This co-ed a cappella singing group is open to medical students and members of the Health System Community. Activities range from singing on the wards, in the hospital lobby, and for faculty/administration. The proceeds from fund-raising activities go to a medically-related charity.
Asian Pacific American Medical Student Association: APAMSA is devoted to meeting the unique educational and social needs and interests of Asian-American medical students. This includes efforts to foster Asian student/faculty interaction, health outreach to Asian communities in the area and communication among Asian medical students at the University of Virginia. The organization offers a forum and a vehicle through which students can voice their concerns about issues pertinent to the Asian medical community. APAMSA sponsors speakers, workshops on topics of interest, social activities and cooperates with other Asian-American student associations on joint projects.
Charlottesville Free Clinic: The Free Clinic opened in 1992 in order to provide free health care to that segment of society that is working but is still unable to purchase health insurance. The clinic is open three evenings a week and is staffed by volunteers from all medical fields. Medical students can sign up in their first and second years to act as initial health screeners. Third and fourth year medical students may choose to see patients in collaboration with physicians.
Christian Medical Fellowship: The CMF is the local chapter of the national organization, the Christian Medical and Dental Society. They welcome all interested physicians, dentists, residents, medical students, and their guests. Opportunities include prayer meetings, Bible studies, and community service projects.
ClubMED: This is the interest group for students interested in the field of Internal Medicine. The group was founded in 1993 and is sponsored by the UVA department of Internal Medicine. Students work to provide speakers on a variety of topics, to introduce medical students at all levels to the field of Internal Medicine and to host an informal social event to promote interactions between faculty and students.
The Elizabeth Project: This is a statewide community-based project sponsored by local churches. Volunteers are needed to work with teenage expectant mothers. Each volunteer who successfully completes the training program is paired with a teenage mom. The program is broken into twelve-week sessions, which include a weekly evening course attended by the mom and her partner.
Family Practice Club: The Family Practice Club was organized with the goal of introducing medical students to the field of Family Medicine. Meetings often feature a speaker and topics of interest to medical students in general. The club also sponsors a Follow-a-Resident program and Follow-a-Maternity Patient program for first and second year medical students. The Club is associated with the Virginia Academy of Family Physicians and the Department of Family Medicine.
HIV Education Program: Through this program medical students are trained to present educational workshops about HIV and AIDS to junior high, high school, and college students in the Charlottesville area.
International Medicine Club: This is an informal group founded to address the growing need to view medical and public health issues in a global multicultural perspective. Goals are to highlight career opportunities, to invite public speakers to lead group discussions, and to provide the opportunity for students to contribute to health care around the world. .
Operation Smile: This group works closely with the Department of Surgery to provide plastic surgery to indigent patients, both here and abroad.
The Orthopedic Club: This club was started for students interested in the field of orthopedics. The club is sponsored by the University of Virginia Orthopedics Department. This is an excellent way for student to work with faculty before the fourth year and to learn skills used in orthopedic surgery.
The Pediatrics Club: This club was founded by a group of students interested in the field of Pediatrics. The club works closely with the UVA Pediatrics Department in order to sponsor speakers and events designed to introduce first- and second-year students to clinical issues in Pediatrics.
Project S.M.I.L.E.: "Students Making It a Little Easier" is an organization sponsored by the American Cancer Society, which matches medical students ("Big Buddies") with pediatric hematology/oncology patients ("little buddies"). Big buddies accompany little buddies to oncology clinic appointments, to planned organizational functions, and in general, provide emotional support to the patient and to the family of the patient.
S.H.A.R.E.: SHARE was founded by members of the class of 1989 and 1990 and acts as an independent umbrella organization devoted to service projects. These projects include teaching local high school and college students about HIV, working with indigent patients at the Charlottesville Free Clinic, visiting nursing homes and retirement communities, spending time with children at a local shelter for families in emergencies, and refereeing and coaching in Special Olympics activities.
Sloane Society: The Sloane Society was started in 1999 and is partly funded and supported by the Humanities in Medicine program. Activities range from lectures on bioethical issues to film viewing and play readings.
The Spinal Chords: Founded in 1979, this a cappella singing group is made up of first- and second-year men and brings "music and mirth" to the hospital and the community-at-large. They perform in class, on the wards, and throughout the state. In addition, the "Chords" raise funds for the Children's Medical Center, which are presented each May during the CMC telethon. Membership is open to all male members of the first and second-year class.
Student National Medical Association: SNMA is a national organization founded with the purpose of increasing the number of physicians who serve minority and indigent communities. Accordingly, the SNMA develops programs for implementation of urban and rural health care as well as for the encouragement of minorities to enter and succeed in the health professions. The Chapter at the University of Virginia School of Medicine is dedicated to the recruitment, success, and retention of minority medical students, to the success of pre-medical students, and to contribution to the surrounding community through the utilization of members' skills and training.
Surgery Club (aka The Cabell Society): The Cabell Society introduces the discipline of surgery to students. Club members believe that all future physicians will benefit from increased understanding of the role surgery plays in the delivery of health care. The club is also designed to help those with an interest in surgery gain some exposure in the first two years. The club sponsors talks, social events, and a surgeon-shadowing program.