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Curriculum Philosophy

The Patient-Centred Approach

Medicine is a calling, a call to service. The patient-centred curriculum reflects this noble tradition of commitment to individual patients, their families and community. The physician's covenant is a promise to be fully present to patients in their time of need - to "be there," even when the physician can offer no cure, to provide relief whenever possible, and always to offer comfort and compassion.

The patient is the centre of our clinical work and, consequently, the centre of our learning. Patient-centred care requires a relationship in which patients will feel that their concerns have been acknowledged and that the physician has understood their plight from each patient's own unique perspective. Patients and physicians must work together to find common ground regarding management - reaching a mutual understanding of their problems, goals of treatment and respective roles of patient and physician. Patient-centred care also incorporates the concept of ecosystem health which studies human health within the interrelations between economic activity, social organization and the ecological integrity of natural systems.

Our curriculum is a reflection of our responsibility to attend to our patients' suffering in the broadest and deepest sense. Our graduates must have a thorough understanding of the biological, behavioural and population sciences basic to medicine. They will apply their medical learning within the integrated context of patient's lives, families and communities and  they must also begin a lifelong quest to understand the human condition, especially the unique responses of patients to their illnesses.

Undergraduate Curriculum

The undergraduate medical curriculum is a four-year program. It is designed to provide each student with an opportunity to acquire the knowledge, skills and attitudes required to advance to graduate or post-graduate studies leading to clinical practice, research or other medical careers. The educational format is a blend of lectures, laboratory experiences, small group, case-based learning and supervised clinical experience in community and hospital settings.

Years One and Two

The first two years of the curriculum provide the student with a solid grounding in the basic and clinical sciences. These two years are each divided into a series of systems-based courses:

First Year Courses

  • MED5115 - Introduction to Medicine
  • MED5121 - Blood
  • MED5116 - Infection & Immunity
  • MED5117 - Skin
  • MED5120 - Heart & Circulation
  • MED5119 - Respiration & Airways
  • MED5104 - Genitourinary System
  • MED5222 - Physician as Leader
  • MED5105 - Population Health
  • MED5107 - Epidemiology (Year 1)
  • MED5130 - Medical Ethics & Humanities (Years 1 & 2)
  • MED5139 - Patient Centred Clinical Methods (Year 1)
  • MED5140 - Professional Portfolio (Years 1 & 2)

Second Year Courses

  • MED5203 - Digestive System & Nutrition
  • MED5202 - Endocrine and Metabolism
  • MED5205 - Reproduction
  • MED5218 - Musculoskeletal System
  • MED5208 - Emergency Care
  • MED5206 - Neurosciences, Eye & Ear
  • MED5207 - Psychiatry & the Behavioural Sciences
  • MED5209 - Health Care Systems
  • MED5210 - Key Topics in Family Medicine
  • MED5130 - Medical Ethics & Humanities (Years 1 & 2)
  • MED5140 - Professional Portfolio (Years 1 & 2)
  • MED5246 - Patient Centred Clinical Methods (Year 2)

Students participate in early patient contact that emphasizes a patient-centred approach to medicine, beginning in Clinical Methods in Year 1. At the end of first year, all medical students participate in Rural & Regional Discovery Week to gain clinical experience and exposure to rural and regional medicine in a southwestern Ontario community hospital or clinic.  This experience enhances the understanding of the communities where patients live.

The weekly timetable is often structured around a case which is introduced at the beginning of each week. The case provides the stimulus for instruction, and is designed to highlight a number of objectives of the MD program. Throughout the week, the student is exposed to a variety of teaching methods including: small group tutorials, problem-based learning, lectures and large group discussions, self-instructional materials, and laboratories.  Time is also provided in the curriculum for students to explore career opportunities.  

Years Three and Four

The third and fourth years of medicine include a 52-week integrated Clerkship (Medicine 5475), Clinical Science Electives (Medicine 5401), and Integration and Transition (Medicine 5402).

During the third year Clerkship, the student becomes an active member of clinical care teams in the following medical disciplines: family medicine, medicine, obstetrics and gynaecology, paediatrics, psychiatry, and surgery. Under the supervision of faculty and more senior housestaff, clerks are given graded responsibility in the diagnosis, investigation, and management of patients in hospital, clinic and outpatient settings.  All students in third year are required to complete a community Clinical Clerkship rotation for a minimum of four weeks.

The Southwestern Ontario Medicine Education Network (SWOMEN) includes faculty located in over 45 communities in the region from Tobermory to Leamington.  Students learn clinical skills in various geographic sites.  The objective is to ensure that Western students at all levels gain an understanding and experience of the practice of Medicine from both a rural/regional and tertiary care/urban perspective.

Beginning in Year 4, Clinical Science Electives are arranged entirely by the student in any area of medicine, at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry or in other centres. After completion of the Clinical Electives, students return to campus in January for Integration and Transition which permits students to further integrate the basic and clinical aspects of synthesized with their clinical experience.

Distributed Medical Education

Despite rapid advances in medicine and unprecedented health care restructuring,  providing accessible high quality rural health care remains a major challenge in southwestern Ontario, many other parts of Canada, and around the world.

Undergraduate Medicine at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry integrates rural and community medicine throughout the years of the medical program. At the end of their first year, all medical students participate in Rural Discovery Week which provides an opportunity for clinical experience and exposure to rural and regional medicine in a southwestern Ontario community. All students in third year are also required to complete a community Clinical Clerkship rotation for a minimum of four weeks outside of London or Windsor. Regional community clerkship rotations help students develop an understanding of non-tertiary care medicine. Some fourth year students also complete two-month electives in a variety of near and distant rural/regional communities.

The rural/regional training track encompasses a variety of optional experiences for students who wish to have a comprehensive community-oriented medical education. In addition to curriculum requirements, students in this training track have opportunities to participate in more rural/regional experiences.

The Doctor of Medicine Program runs simultaneously from two sites:  London and Windsor. Each year a section of the admitted class will complete all of their academic studies at the Windsor site.

Research Opportunities

Two programs are available for medical students to pursue research interests under the supervision of a faculty member. The Summer Research Training Program is available to first and second year  students who apply during their first year. Under this program students participate in a research project during the summer months. Students may also pursue a research project through the Schulich Medicine & Dentistry Research Opportunities Program. During this program students undertake a research project during the summer and/or academic year.