THE CLINICAL YEARS: AN OVERVIEW
The clinical curriculum of the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago is designed to enable students to develop the basic competencies required of medical school graduates prepared to begin residency training in any clinical discipline. Through participation in six core disciplines of medical practice and through exposure to basic skills of medical/surgical specialties, students will practice the skills, attitudes, and behaviors unique to each discipline and common to the practice of medicine in general. As their skills become more refined, students take on increased clinical responsibility as sub-interns and have the opportunity to explore particular fields of interest in a variety of settings through elective clerkships.
At the conclusion of their training, students will have a clinical knowledge base appropriate for first year residents, will be well prepared to provide care to patients in both ambulatory and hospital settings, will be skilled in the knowledge acquisition tools required for lifelong learning, and will deal professionally with the ethical, legal, and economic realities of 21st century medicine.
Along with the basic skills, attitudes, and behaviors learned in the core clerkships, students are also given the opportunity to develop familiarity with the specialty needs of the generalist physician, both as introductions to those disciplines and as a means of developing the skills necessary to recognize, treat and/or refer patients who present with conditions requiring the special expertise of those fields. Students are introduced to many fundamentals of specialty careers including (but not limited to) such options as emergency medicine, neurology, dermatology, and radiology.
STUDENT ASSESSMENT AND EVALUATION
Unlike the basic science years in which student competence is assessed primarily through multiple choice and laboratory skills exams, student assessment during the clinical years includes multiple dimensions. UI COM utilizes a criterion-referenced method of assessing students’ clinical competence. Each of the core disciplines has defined the clinical knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behaviors students must demonstrate to achieve proficiency. Underlying the criteria unique to each discipline is the requirement that students maintain a consistent level of professionalism. Using this criterion, students are evaluated by the attendings and residents who have worked most closely with them during the clinical experience for the clinical grade. In addition to their clinical grade, students must also demonstrate their acquisition of discipline-specific knowledge bases by taking and passing the National Board of Medical Examiners’ Shelf Exams in each of the core disciplines. In certain disciplines, students’ clinical skills are also evaluated using the Objective Structured Clinical Exam format (O.S.C.E.) M4 clinical experiences may also use an objective evaluation of the student’s knowledge as well as subjective evaluation by faculty. At the conclusion of each experience in the M3 and M4 years, students are asked to evaluate the quality of the experience. These evaluations are used by the appropriate curriculum subcommittees as part of their ongoing efforts to monitor and improve the clinical curriculum. During the first year of residency training, graduates will also be given the opportunity to evaluate their medical school education.
In the M3 year, care of hospitalized and ambulatory patients give students their first experience with both the time commitment and the emotional demands of the physician’s life while rotating through the core clerkships. The Essentials of Clinical Practice and Professionalism 1 course was established to assist third year students in preparing for their clerkships by providing training that will help them excel. Students may choose to fill their unscheduled time with electives.
During their fourth year, students refine their basic competencies and expand their knowledge base through participation in required weeks of instruction and selected electives. The wide variety of electives encourages students to both explore potential career options and to acquire expertise to complement either a specialty or a generalist career choice. Students may take electives both within the UIC system and outside of it.
Students must have passed all M1 and M2 coursework prior to beginning their M3 year, including sitting for USMLE Step 1. Once the core clerkships are taken and passed, students are eligible to sit for USMLE Step 2. In addition to completing all the required weeks of the M3/M4 instruction, students must pass both Step 1 and Step 2. Students must also complete the Graduation Competency Examination, typically scheduled in the end of the M3 year.
RIGHT TO CHANGE REQUIREMENTS
Both the curriculum and College promotions’ policies are continuously monitored and refined by the faculty. This web site and its contents are therefore subject to change without notice, as the College of Medicine deems necessary and appropriate. This web site and the descriptions contained here are not to be construed as a contract binding the College. Possible changes include, but are not limited to, curricula, exam requirements, and course content. The College will provide adequate advance notice of any change in policy or additions or deletions of courses. Students are responsible for making themselves aware of any changes in policy and also for changes in requirements for specific courses.