BUSM Curriculum

The BUSM curriculum offers students the opportunity to study medicine in a flexible, supportive environment that stimulates critical inquiry and provides a sound base of knowledge in the biological, social, and behavioral sciences. Curriculum review, integration, and modification is an ongoing process. Over the last several years we have restructured the academic program to expand early clinical experiences; we have reduced lecture hours and expanded small group exercises, laboratory sessions, and problem-based seminars; we have integrated the sciences basic to the study of medicine; and we have expanded flexibility and elective time throughout the program.


In Integrated Problems, students in small groups use case-based discussion to develop and integrate their knowledge in the biological and social sciences. The Introduction to Clinical Medicine course provides a mentored early clinical experience, creating an opportunity for students to develop communication and examination skills that are fundamental to effective clinical practice. These two programs provide a bridge between the basic science instruction of the first two years and the clinical clerkships of the third and fourth years.

Essentials of Public Health is a recently expanded course that covers epidemiology/biostatistics, health policy, quality improvement, population health, practice transformation, evidence-based care, patient-centered medical homes, ethics, and health law. Faculty from the Department of Family Medicine have partnered with their colleagues throughout the institution, including the urban network of community health centers and the network of professionals providing clinical care at the hospital, to give a broad perspective on clinical innovation and population health in this course.

The curriculum described below applies to the four-year program.

First year

The emphasis is on normal structure and function (anatomy and physiology). The majority of the first-year curriculum is delivered as an integrated Principles Integrating Sciences and Medicine (PrISM) curriculum, including the following modules:

  • Molecular Foundations of Medicine
  • Cellular Foundations of Medicine
  • Body Structure
  • Neuroscience
  • Genomic Medicine & Immunology
  • Cardiovascular System
  • Respiratory System
  • Renal System
  • Gastrointestinal System & Nutrition
  • Endocrine & Reproductive Systems

In addition to the PrISM curriculum, students are also required to take:

  • Essentials of Public Health
  • Human Behavior in Medicine
  • Integrated Problems 1
  • Introduction to Clinical Medicine 1A (Fall)
  • Introduction to Clinical Medicine 1B (Spring)

Second year

The focus shifts to abnormalities in structure and function (pathology and pathophysiology). The majority of the second year material is delivered as an integrated Disease & Therapy (DRx) Curriculum, including the following modules:

  • Foundations
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Cardiovascular
  • Pulmonary
  • Rheumatology
  • Renal
  • Gastrointestinal
  • Neurology
  • Psychiatry
  • Endocrinology/Nutrition
  • Reproduction
  • Hematology
  • Oncology
  • Dermatology

In addition to the DRx Curriculum, students are also required to take:

  • Integrated Problems II
  • Introduction to Clinical Medicine II

Third year

This is the core clerkship year. Students complete their initial clinical rotations, participating in active ambulatory and inpatient practices on major teaching services:

  • Medicine—8 Weeks
  • Surgery—8 Weeks
  • Family Medicine—6 Weeks
  • Obstetrics/Gynecology—6 Weeks
  • Pediatrics—6 Weeks
  • Psychiatry—6 Weeks
  • Neurology—4 Weeks
  • Third-Year Elective (Radiology, Emergency Medicine)—4 Weeks
    • The Enrichment office also offers a limited number of research electives that are available to students during the third-year elective block.

Students work with house officers and attending physicians in the care of a broad range of patients and clinical conditions through a series of required and elective clinical blocks.

Fourth year

In the fourth year, students complete advanced clinical rotations in geriatrics and home care, a sub-internship in the specialty of their choice, and one selective (ambulatory medicine or a surgical subspecialty). The third and fourth years combined include a minimum of 24 weeks of elective time with opportunities to pursue clinical and basic science research, as well as independent study programs.

Study Abroad and Research

Many students choose to spend some of this time at other institutions, either in the US or abroad in BUSM’s very active International Health program.

BUSM is a major research institution and students may return to research interests they have pursued in the past, or try research for the first time. Stipends are available for those rising second-year students who wish to undertake a summer research fellowship.