Medical School Year 1 & 2: Basic Sciences Overview

In many medical schools students are exposed solely to classroom-based didactics during the duration of their basic science coursework. After approximately two years, they are then required to apply their knowledge to actual cases. At International American University College of Medicine, similar to many of the best medical schools in the United States, we take a more progressive approach to medical education in that our students are immediately exposed to a case-based, problem-oriented curriculum (“problem based learning”, or PBL), which places far more emphasis on learning that is active (researching, discussing) rather than passive (sitting, memorizing). Our curriculum helps build students’ confidence in their own presentation skills which must be honed by the time they are presenting their cases to a room full of medical doctors.

IAUCOM Basic Sciences Pathway

Basic Sciences Curriculum

Clinical Skills I. Pre-Initial Clinical Experiences (2 Credits)

The Pre Initial Clinical Experience (PreICE) course serves to set the foundations of understanding of and experiences with the key elements of Clinical Skills development:

  • 1) Professionalism
  • 2) Communication (patient interviewing and medical writing)
  • 3) Ethics and
  • 4) Physical Evaluation / Diagnosis.

The complementary nature of the four elements is presented and actively pursued with narrative case-based examples. PreICE involves use of peers acting as standardized patients and coordination with experiences of live patients in the Community Clinics. Themes such as Evidence Based Medicine, Cultural Competency, Narrative Medicine, Collaborative Practice, and Entrustable Professional Activities are initiated.

Gross & Developmental Anatomy (16 credits)

The Gross and Developmental Anatomy Course (GDA) is designed to provide students with a fundamental knowledge of normal human gross and developmental anatomy as a basis for the practice of medicine. Although the course is organized around a regional approach links to systemic standpoints are often considered. GDA is divided into four blocks:

  • 1) Back, Upper Limb, Head neck
  • 2) Thorax, Abdomen-1
  • 3) Abdomen-2, Perineum
  • 4) Pelvis, Lower Limb.

Learning sessions introduce topics to present organizational concepts and clarify specific aspects of regional and developmental anatomy. Clinical correlates are included regularly to emphasize relevance.
Problem Based Learning introduces students to a systemic approach to differential diagnosis. Monday through Thursday learning sessions follow with a Friday Laboratory session, where the students identify structural relations on prosections, demonstration specimens and imaging. Throughout GDA, learning sessions on Developmental Anatomy are placed strategically in order to have students learn the normal embryological sequence of events and to familiarize them with developmental anomalies that physicians often encounter.

Histology & Cell Biology (8 credits)

This course is designed to provide students with a basic understanding of the structural organization of cells, tissues, and organ systems at the microscopic level. It emphasizes the relationships between
structure and function. A concise explanation of the structure and function along with gross, electron and light microscopic images is provided. Students observe micro-anatomical structure in the classroom and begin using their knowledge of normal structure and function in clinical problem solving.

Evidence Based Medicine and Clinical Outcomes Research (2 credits)

Over a twelve week period, FIVE distinct EBMCOR based themes are pursued, each over two weeks, with a 2hr learning session per week. All learning sessions are preceded by assigned articles with self directed learning (SDL) that are guided by a set of Learning Goals and Objectives (LG/LO). The 5 themes pursued are relevant to current essential issues in disease and healthcare and are flexible in order to remain current. Each of the key issues/topics is assigned to one of five basic science faculty members who serve as a content expert in the discipline being pursued.

This EBMCOR course also serves as the launch-point of a Capstone research project that is conducted with content expert mentors throughout the entire course of medical college. The dissertation/report submitted in year 4, when reviewed and approved by the Capstone Committee (sub-committee of Research Committee), serves to distinguish the IAUCOM graduate as an MD with Distinction in Research.

Clinical Skills II. Initial Clinical Experiences (2 credits)

The Initial Clinical Experiences (ICE) course serves to expand the understanding of and hands-on experiences with the key elements of Clinical Skills development. In addition to the use of simulated patients and coordination with patient experiences in the Community Clinics, ACE involves employment 22 of standardized patients. Further, the Physical Evaluation component is pursued at a higher level that is complementary to the advances in clinical skills that have been achieved in the PreICE course.

Public Health (2 credits)

This course includes the study of epidemiology, biostatistics and preventive Medicine. Epidemiologic principles, measurements, investigations and research designs are discussed in this course. Students will gain experience in applying epidemiologic methods in clinical problem solving and decision making. Principles of biostatistics as they apply to medicine will be covered. Students are expected to build upon and in turn demonstrate their knowledge in the process of testing hypotheses and making inferences from various types of data. Disease trends in human populations and methods of disease prevention will also be explored. Public health systems and medical care organizations will also be reviewed. Students participate in practical instruction through their participation in community health care projects.

Biochemistry & Genetics (10 credits)

The course aims to comprehensively cover the fundamental concepts needed to understand life processes and pathological states at the molecular level. It focuses on the pathways and mechanisms involved in the diagnosis as well as treatment of diseases. The course also covers basic tenets of genetics which brings to light the manifold and subtle diversity in humans and how this diversity may render certain individuals more susceptible to pathological conditions. Aspects of biochemistry and genetics having little immediate relevance for physicians are de-emphasized but recent progress in the clinical elements are given emphasis. MD 277

Physiology (10 credits)

In this course students will explore the functions of major organ systems and their components in the human body. Topic areas include cellular physiology, various organ systems (cardiovascular, respiratory, renal, gastrointestinal, endocrine systems, reproductive), as well as integrative aspects of human physiology, e.g. acid-base balance and nutrition. Approaches in the classroom will include interactive learning sessions, problem-based learning, and case-study analysis. The course emphasizes mechanistic and integrative functions of normal physiology and explores abnormal function that occurs in a wide array of human diseases. Students will also gain some appreciation of mechanisms underlying pathology along with remediation through pharmacological manipulations.

Clinical Skills III: Pre-Advanced Clinical Experiences (2 credits)

The Pre Advanced Clinical Experience (PreACE) course serves to expand and advance the understanding of and hand-on experiences with the key elements of Clinical Skills development. All of the pedagogical approaches used in PreICE and ICE will be continued along with level-specific expectations such as “On the Wards” and “Grand Rounds” – style presentation of patients that were experienced in the Community Clinics or SL Hospitals (e.g., St Jude, Tapion).

Medical Microbiology (10 credits)

Medical Microbiology and Immunology is presented in the form of lectures, medically relevant cases, integrated laboratory exercises, and problem based case studies. The class is divided into five areas: immunology, bacteriology, virology, Fungi and Parasites.

The course addresses the concepts of host-parasite relationships, including pathogenic mechanisms and human immunological responses. Laboratory exercises and group case discussions and are designed to focus on the process of diagnosis of infectious diseases using culture and staining techniques; laboratory testing for the identification of infectious organisms; and evaluation of host immune parameters.

Neuroscience (6 credits)

Medical neuroscience is the integration of several essential parts such as neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, neuropathology, neuropharmacology, and neurology. It combines the basic science principles with the clinical aspects of the nervous system.

The brain is the most complicated organ of the human body. Even after extensive research and progress, many functional aspects of the brain are unclear and partially understood. The faculty will provide a basic integrated view of the functions of the human nervous system but it is the responsibility of the student to comprehend and establish an integrated idea of how the brain works and its malfunctioning in diseased states.

In the first few weeks of the course, basic structures and involved mechanisms are taught. In the later weeks, the course progresses into a more complex association of integrating the earlier learning sessions. The student is expected to have a working knowledge of the preceding material. Faculty will
cover essential clinical and functional areas of the human nervous system for successful completion of NBME subject, CBME and USMLE step 1.

Behavioral Sciences (8 credits)

The Behavioral Sciences course stresses the complex relationship between psychological make-up and experience, by providing a knowledge base for normative and non-normative human development throughout the life cycle. The course also introduces the student to the behavioral basis of clinical medicine by focusing on common behavioral problems and the circumstances that evoke important behavioral / emotional responses. The concept of culturally competent care will be defined. Workshops on realistic clinical problems are an integral part of this course; sexual dysfunction, bereavement, suicide, and sociological disorders receive detailed attention. Additionally, the student should develop increased insight into personal functioning and feelings and develop the skills needed to act as an empathetic and effective interviewer and behavioral change agent. The course also introduces the student to psychopathology, addiction medicine, psychopharmacology, and other therapeutic interventions.

Pathology I (6 credits)

The Pathology course is presented to second year medical students, in conjunction with Microbiology, and, Neuroscience, and Behavioral Sciences. In General Pathology, the main goal is to bridge the gap
between pure basic science and disease processes related to clinical medicine. The course also prepares students for the initiation into patient care and combines morphologic and functional changes to determine mechanisms of pathologic processes. In Systemic Pathology, a systems approach to disease is
taken. Within each system the basic gross and microscopic changes associated with each disease are stressed, but the course also allows for a review of normal anatomy, pathophysiology, and the clinical aspects of disease.

Clinical Skills IV. Advanced Clinical Experiences (4 credits)

The Advanced Clinical Experience (ACE) course serves to continue development and advancement of the understanding of and hand-on experiences with higher-order Clinical Skills. The pedagogical approaches applied in the PreACE setting continue with advanced expectations. Further, along with experience as mentors of clinical skills development for junior IAUCOM students MS1-3. MS4 ACE students will also serve an advisory role in the Community Clinics along with the Clinical Director. The ACE student will
experience and have a good understanding of the role of physicians in a team-based collaborative care setting.

Medical Pharmacology (8 credits)

The Medical Pharmacology course is presented to 4th Semester medical students in conjunction with Pathology 2 and Physical diagnosis. The lecture series selected for this course should impart to all
students a sound knowledge of Medical Pharmacology.

The study of pharmacology requires many years, and significant collaborative input from physicians is necessary for advancement in the areas of drug development and testing. The objective of the course is to acquaint the student with the basic principles of pharmacology, both pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamics so that the student will understand the therapeutic and adverse effects of drugs and their interactions, as they are used in the practice of medicine.

Pathology II (8 credits)

The Pathology course is presented to second year medical students, in conjunction with Pharmacology, and Physical Diagnosis. In Systemic Pathology, a systems approach to disease is taken. Within each
system the basic gross and microscopic changes associated with each disease are stressed, but the course also allows for a review of normal anatomy, pathophysiology, and the clinical aspects of disease.

Bridge to Success Program (8 credits)

The culminating experience at the St Lucia campus is the new 5th semester Bridge To Success Program. This program represents a hybrid systems based approach with intensive discipline review sessions that are complemented by NBME assessment services ( CBSSA and Pre-Post completion of CBSE in weeks 1 and 14 ), to help students succeed with USMLE Step 1. Students prepare for CBSE-USMLE Step 1, complete practice questions, and work through clinical vignettes to consolidate and apply their knowledge of the scientific underpinnings of health and disease. In addition, there is a series of workshops that are focused on test preparation techniques and dealing with high-risk test anxiety. The last 2 weeks (13, 14) involve a hands-on exposure to advanced clinical skills in a “Transition to Clerkship” sub-program that allows students to develop a set of skills, clinical awareness and a primary understanding of the clerkship culture that lies ahead. This phase also marks the reintroduction of 25 Entrustable Professional Activities (EPAs) and how students are expected to achieve specific milestones in their training from clerkship throughout residency.

Advanced Introduction to Clinical Medicine (6 credits)

Taken during the bridge semester, Introduction to Clinical Medicine (ICM), will introduce students to the basic skills essential to the practice of medicine. Some of the skills needed when working with patients includes learning how to conduct a medical interview, performing a physical examination, and organizing the data to reach a diagnosis.

Groups of 2-3 students are assigned to a clinical faculty member for each of the core rotations; Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Ob/Gyn, Pediatrics, Psychiatry, and Surgery. The group sessions will focus on basic history taking and examination skills. The following is an outline for the weekly sessions:

  • Week 1: Orientation, Lab Procedures
  • Week 2: Family Medicine, Internal Medicine
  • Week 3: Psychiatry, General Surgery
  • Week 4: OB/GYN, Pediatrics.

USMLE Review Course (0 credits)

All students are required to complete an approved USMLE preparatory program during the bridge semester.