Schulich school of Medicine and Dentistry logo Undergraduate Medical Education Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry

Curriculum Overview

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.

Year One

MED5115 - Introduction to Medicine

This course ensures that all students, regardless of their academic background, are grounded in some principles of the basic sciences that underpin medicine. These include anatomy, biochemistry, genetics, pathology, physiology and pharmacology. It also introduces some aspects of human development; and addresses some areas that are contextual to medicine including ethics, epidemiology, health and healthcare. In addition to lectures on these topics, students meet in small groups each week to discuss issues arising from patient cases and the week's lectures. (weight 1.0)

MED5121 - Blood

This course covers the essential fundamental knowledge of blood structure and function in health and disease. Blood is a highly specialized circulating system that is linked to all body organs and responsible for the life and wellbeing of an individual. At the end of the course, the student will have the necessary skills to make the appropriate diagnosis/differential diagnoses, be able to perform the necessary investigative tests, and treat the disease. (weight 1.0)

MED5116 - Infection & Immunity

This course outlines the attributes of infectious agents relevant to understanding the causation, control, and management of infectious diseases. The course also provides of a general understanding of the molecular and cellular basis of immune response, as well as its roles in defense against infections and diseases due to abnormal immune response. Patient-centered learning will enable the student to explore the common experiences of illness related to specific diseases in a contextual and focused manner. (weight 1.0)

MED5117 - Skin

During this course, the students will learn how to take a dermatological history and describe cutaneous physical signs in an organized way using proper terminology. The students will learn about the pathophysiology and treatment of important and common medical and surgical skin diseases. Students will appreciate the impact of skin diseases on patients and their families and will take part in a community outreach program. Patient-centered learning will enable the student to explore the common experiences of illness related to specific diseases in a contextual and focused manner. (weight 0.25)

MED5120 - Heart & Circulation

This course examines the structure, function, disease recognition and management of the cardiovascular system. Integrative learning models will be used to study congenital heart disease, valvular and coronary heart disease, atherosclerosis, hypertension, trauma, heart failure, and rehabilitation of patients with heart disease. Patient-centered learning will enable the student to explore the common experiences of illness related to specific diseases in a contextual and focused manner. (Weight 1.0)

MED5119 - Respiration & Airways

This course examines the structure and function of the upper respiratory tract and lower respiratory tract. Basic science material will be correlated with respiratory tract symptoms of clinical relevance, such as dyspnea, wheezing, hoarseness, dysphagia, cough, airway obstruction, and neck mass. Basic science material will also be correlated with clinically relevant respiratory tract problems seen in clinical specialties including, but not limited to: Otolaryngology (ENT), Respirology, Dentistry, Oncology, Anaesthesiology, and Paediatrics. Cross-disciplinary lectures will be integrated to engage related specialties such as Audiology, Genetics, and Communication Sciences. Patient-centered learning will enable the student to explore the common experiences of illness related to specific diseases in a contextual and focused manner. (weight 1.0)

MED5104 - Genitourinary System

This course uses basic principles of renal physiology to understand commonly encountered fluid and electrolyte disorders and the actions of diuretic drugs. The pathophysiology of diabetic kidney disease, glomerular and tubulointerstitial diseases, and the relationship between hypertension and the kidney are discussed. The basic principles of urinary system anatomy and physiology are applied to understand kidney stones, genitourinary cancers and infections, as well as disorders of the bladder and prostate. The course also introduces basic principles of dialysis and kidney transplantation. Lectures, small group problem-solving and team-based learning sessions will be used to help medical students gain insight into the interesting world of genitourinary diseases. (weight 1.0)

MED5151 - Social Medicine

A year-long integrative social medicine course concentrating on the social, cultural and economic impact of medical phenomena. This course will include social medicine, population health, epidemiology, medical ethics and service learning and will provide students with an understanding of cultural and social roots, social inequalities, factors affecting treatment outcomes, ethical challenges, and experiential learning opportunities.

MED5139 - Patient Centred Clinical Methods (Year 1)

This course examines the process of the doctor-patient interaction. Using a patient-centred approach, instruction is given in interviewing and physical examination. Clinical reasoning and decision making are explored through the Problem-Orientated Clinical Record. Professionalism and ethics are emphasized as they relate to the clinical setting. Integration of knowledge, application of skills and development of appropriate attitudes are evaluated in this course. (weight 1.0)

MED5140 - Professional Portfolio (Years 1 & 2)

An Introduction to the concept of a professional portfolio. Through practical application of curriculum competencies students will develop the skills required to assemble and utilize a professional portfolio. The portfolio will be further developed during years three and four. This course spans years one and two of the medical curriculum. (weight 1.0)

Year Two

MED5203 - Digestive System & Nutrition

This course introduces the anatomy, physiology and biochemistry of the gastrointestinal tract and its role in nutrition. The student will learn the common diseases that involve the esophagus, stomach, intestines, pancreas and liver as well as the pathophysiology, epidemiology and treatment of these diseases. The nutrition component includes the absorption of essential nutrients, nutritional assessment, normal nutrition and the use of nutrition as therapy. The study of gastrointestinal malignancies will be covered in the associated patient centered small group sessions. (weight 1.0)

MED5202 - Endocrine and Metabolism

This course introduces common diagnoses of the Endocrine system. The physiology of the hypothalamic–pituitary–end organ axis is discussed, including growth and puberty, thyroid, and adrenal function. Each axis is discussed more specifically with respect to its physiology, anatomy, and common pathologic conditions. Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes mellitus, and common issues related to bone and calcium abnormalities are also reviewed. A patient-centered approach is used with case descriptions and many small group sessions to complement the lectures. (weight 1.0)

MED5205 - Reproduction

This course covers the relevant anatomy, physiology and pathology of female reproductive system. It integrates the basic science understanding of reproduction with core content in women’s reproductive health and clinical obstetrics & gynaecology. Formal lectures, small group patient centre learning, and group projects will enable the student to learn normal gynaecologic and pregnancy care, and common problems in women's reproductive health and pregnancy. (weight 1.0)

MED5210S - Key Topics in Family Medicine

Students are introduced to the most common complaints that patients present to their family physicians. Key components of the history and physical examination skills that are core to family medicine and that aid in determining the most appropriate management style will be identified. The course will build on how the Patient-Centred Clinical Method is incorporated into clinical practice through case vignettes. (weight 0.25)

MED5218 - Musculoskeletal System

This course examines the structure, normal function and pathologic dysfunction of the musculoskeletal system to develop the skills necessary to perform a general musculoskeletal screening examination. This course covers musculoskeletal and joint anatomy, physiology, biochemistry and pathology with clinical correlates, musculoskeletal radiology, biophysics, musculoskeletal injuries, development and remodeling of bone, metabolic bone disease, bone tumors, fractures, and muscle and connective tissue diseases. A rheumatology component includes arthritis, autoimmune disorders, genetic influences on joint disease, septic arthritis and the basic science of joint inflammation. The diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal diseases will be taught from both a medical and surgical perspective. Small group interactions will promote student participation in clinical case presentations. Patient-centered learning will enable the student to explore the common experiences of illness related to fundamental aspects of musculoskeletal function and dysfunction in a contextual and focused manner. (weight 1.0)

MED5208 - Emergency Care

This course introduces the care of the patient with shock and multiple traumas. Objectives include an approach to initial assessment and resuscitation of patients presenting with respiratory distress, hypotension, trauma, disorders of temperature regulation (hyperthermia and hypothermia) or cardiac arrest. (weight 0.25)

MED5206 - Neurosciences, Eye & Ear

This course introduces and integrates the basic and clinical science aspects of the nervous system, the eye and the ear. This course uses small and large group sessions in addition to lectures to provide the essentials of neuroanatomy, physiology, pathology and pharmacology in a clinical context. At the end of Neurosciences, Eye, and Ear, the student will be able to discuss the presentation of common illnesses involving the nervous system, eye and ear. Patient-centered learning enables the student to appreciate extrinsic and intrinsic factors that impact on an individual's ability to participate fully in family, social or occupation. (weight 1.0)

MED5207 - Psychiatry & the Behavioural Sciences

Psychiatry and the Behavioural Sciences is an integrated course that synthesizes basic science and basic psychopathology including diagnostic criteria and treatments. The emphasis of this course will be on the most commonly encountered psychiatric disorders. The approach follows that of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV TR). The phenomenology of mental disorders, etiology and epidemiology will be presented utilizing a patient-centred focus. (weight 1.0)

MED5250 - Professional Identity

A year-long integrative professional identity course focusing on professional identity formation, establishment of core values and self-awareness. This course will include leadership, health care systems, medical ethics, professional identity, patient safety, personal finance and wellness. Students will have access to role models and mentors, experiential learning, explicit and tacit knowledge acquisition for the development of professional identify formation.

MED5246 - Patient Centred Clinical Methods (Year 2)

This course examines the process of the doctor-patient interaction. Using a patient-centred approach instruction is given in interviewing and physical examination. Clinical reasoning and decision making is explored through the Problem-Orientated Clinical Record. Professionalism and ethics are emphasized as they relate to the clinical setting. Integration of knowledge, application of skills and development of appropriate attitudes are evaluated in this course. (weight 1.5)

MED5140 - Professional Portfolio (Years 1 & 2)

An Introduction to the concept of a professional portfolio. Through practical application of curriculum competencies students will develop the skills required to assemble and utilize a professional portfolio. The portfolio will be further developed during years three and four. This course spans years one and two of the medical curriculum. (weight 1.0)

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 (SRTP) 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.