Basic Science begins in the first four blocks (Year 1) by focusing on “Normal Structure and Function of the Human Body," approached from an organ systems perspective. All of the basic science fundamental to the learning of medicine are integrated into the first two years and include objectives in anatomy, physiology, histology, biochemistry, genetics, embryology, and immunology. The second four blocks (Year 2) will be focused on “Pathobiology," and will also use an organ systems approach. Objectives will focus on pathophysiology, pharmacology, microbiology, virology, and pathology. Basic sciences will be revisited in Phase 2 using integrated patient cases and interactive sessions.
Clinical Science will begin in Phase 1 using lectures, panel discussions, movies, reflection, simulation models, standardized and real patients, and objectives in Patient Case Work cases. Ample time will be dedicated to providing students with the opportunity to learn and practice clinical skills with faculty and standardized patients. A unique feature of the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine program, not seen in most other medical schools, is that a clinical skills exam will be administered following each block in Phase 1. This assures the progressive development in clinical skills competency for students preparing for the clinical rotations. Each student is assigned to an ambulatory clinic for one-half day per month from the beginning of Phase 1. This longitudinal ambulatory care experience provides real clinical experience, physician role-modeling, interprofessional relationship building, and continuity of patient care from the beginning of the program. In addition, all students are assessed at the end of Year 3 with a multi-station objective structured clinical exam to assess clinical skills and provide formative feedback. The Clinical Science value domain is emphasized during Phase 2, which includes the clinical rotations and electives during Years 3 and 4.
The research value domain will provide the fundamental principles and application of Research and will begin in Phase 1 using lectures, problems, experiential learning activities, and objectives in Patient Case Work cases. Students will be exposed to researchers from various disciplines in a longitudinal seminar series called “Research Live” and will learn the basics of various techniques in structured research rotations. Once a research project has been selected by the student at the end of Year 1, students will be guided in their project by a research mentor and small committee of basic and clinical scientists who will provide regular feedback to the student on their progress. Specific timelines and target goals have been established to help ensure continuous progress. Each student will be required to complete a scholarly project that is hypothesis-driven, provide a written document suitable for publication, and present their work in an appropriate venue in order to graduate.
Interprofessionalism begins in Phase 1 and continues throughout the curriculum. The foundational principles and theoretical and practical application of Interprofessionalism will be interwoven through the entire program. This domain will emphasize service learning and team building activities that are focused on professionalism and ethics, roles of the health professions, community service, public health, acute and chronic disease, systems change, and patient safety. Faculty from different professions at Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and the Jefferson College of Health Sciences, Carilion Clinic’s allied health school, will be intimately involved in the delivery of this curricular component.
Several focus areas, which we call threads, overlap multiple basic and clinical science disciplines and are interwoven throughout both phases of the patient-centered curriculum. These threads include nutrition, complementary and alternative medicine, and oral health. These threads will be monitored by specific faculty members with expertise in these areas who will oversee the inclusion of this content into the Patient Case Work cases, lectures, and other educational strategies used in the Patient Centered Curriculum. Attention will be devoted to ensuring that basic science concepts are revisited in Phase 2 in an integrated problem-solving manner involving patient cases and interactive sessions.