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 physicians
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 physicians 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 28 weeks away from Charlottesville in affiliated clerkship
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,
or research activities. Programs are tailored to
meet individual interests and needs, including a selection of programs in
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
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
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 ones personal and profession
- 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
- 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
- Selecting and interpreting clinical tests for the purpose of health
screening and prevention, diagnosis, prognosis or intervention;
- Organizing, recording, presenting, researching, critiquing and managing
- 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
Time Limit for Completion of the M.D. Degree Students
in combined degree programs 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.
M.D.-Ph.D. (NIH Medical Scientist Training) Program
The goal of the
program is to provide students with the highest quality training to conduct
biomedical research as well as a firm grounding
in clinical medicine. Ph.D. training may be done in one of our Basic Science
Departments including Cell Biology, Biochemistry & Molecular Genetics,
Biology, Biomedical Engineering, Chemistry, Microbiology, Molecular Physiology
Physics, and Pharmacology. We also offer a wide variety of Interdisciplinary
Graduate Programs in the areas of Immunology, Cardiovascular Physiology, Cell
and Molecular Biology, Neuroscience, Biophysics, Molecular Pharmacology, Molecular
Medicine, Chemical Engineering, Cancer, and Infectious Diseases. A major emphasis
of the program is to train physician-scientists who will lead the biomedical
research community in efforts to discover the fundamental basis of human disease
and to develop innovative new therapies for their treatment. For more information
M.D.-M.S. Health Evaluation Sciences
This joint M.D.-M.S. Health Evaluation Sciences program is
designed to develop the research, analytic, and quantitative skills that students
need to succeed in a variety of health careers. The M.S. 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.
M.D.-M.P.H. Public Health
This multidisciplinary degree is offered in collaboration
with the School of Medicine, Law, Nursing, and the College of Arts and Sciences.
The program emphasizes Public Health, Law and Ethics, Community Health, Global
Health, Bio-preparedness, and Health Policy Management. Medical Students who
decide to pursue the M.P.H. should expect to extend their education by one year.
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.
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
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 Deans office.
Students also sit on the Curriculum Committee, the Admissions Committee and
the Deans 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 Womens Association AMWA addresses
medical issues that are vital to womens 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
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
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
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 Childrens Medical Center, which are presented each May during the
CMC telethon. Membership is open to all male members of the first and second-year
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 The Surgery Club, aka 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.