Medical School Curricula

Medical School Curricula

While most medical schools have fairly similar curricula there are large differences in how medical school curricula are taught. When evaluating a school to decide if it is right for you the different learning modalities employed by each school should factor into your decision. Independent learners may look for more student directed learning while auditory learners might prefer lectures given in a systematic fashion. Here are some key differences between medical school curricula.

Systems Based

Some medical schools run their curricula on a “system based” approach. This means courses are based on systems like gastrointestinal and neurology. This is in contrast to the traditional way of teaching normal physiology of all organ systems in classes based on topics like anatomy, physiology, immunology, followed by pathophysiology. In a systems based approach you learn each system, it’s physiology and pathophysiology, before moving on to the next system.

Time Before Entering Clinic

Most medical schools have some form of early clinical exposure, however the first two years are largely lecture and small group based. The third year is when you enter the clinic. Some schools have now cut down this “pre-clinical” time to 1.5 years, allowing you to enter the clinic faster. The total time to graduation remains the same, you simply spend more time in clinical settings, learning from patients and exploring potential specialties.

Small Group Learning

Lectures are being phased out or minimized in many schools in favor of team based, small group learning. This can take the form of problem based learning (PBL) or Team Based Learning (TBL) where a group of students must solve a clinical case together and small workshops where you answer problem sets. This not only involves applying knowledge in a more practical setting, it forces you to work on a team.

Manual Manipulation

This is unique to schools of osteopathy. Osteopaths will learn how to manually manipulate patients to achieve better alignment. These techniques are not part of the allopathic philosophy and will therefore not be taught in allopathic schools. Read our comparison of MD and DO programs to learn more about the differences and your options .

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