MD Students are introduced to patients within the first foundation of the curriculum. This early exposure allows students to understand the relevance of what they are learning, maintain a high degree of motivation and begin to understand the importance of responsible professional attitudes.
The Clinical Skills Program of the UGME Program is designed to allow students to develop an integrated approach to the doctor-patient encounter. The Program has three components: first, verbal data-gathering, which includes communication skills and history-taking; a second component of physical examination skills; and a third component, data interpretation, which rounds out the doctor-patient encounter. This component includes the interpretation of verbal and physical findings from the patient as well as diagnostic tests.
In most Medical Foundations (MFs), each MF tutorial group works with a clinical skills preceptor in weekly sessions focused on the clinical skills appropriate to the topics being covered in the MF. From the first MF, students begin meeting patients. There are also sessions with Standardized Patients, which allow students to master basic skills before they begin to use these skills with real patients.
The Clinical Skills curriculum and the Professional Competencies curriculum are closely linked in teaching students the basic communication skills so vital to good clinical practice.
As students’ progress, more specialized clinical skills such as those relating to psychiatric interviewing and ophthalmology are taught using varied formats.
Family Medicine Experience
The 6-week Family Medicine rotation revolves around a one-to-one experience pairing a student with a community-based family physician. The most significant component of the Family Medicine rotation is this time spent with the clinical preceptor in the office setting.
The overall goals of the program are for all students to have:
- An understanding of the broad scope of family medicine
- An understanding of how virtual or same-site inter-professional teams function in the context of the primary care environment
- Appreciate the challenges in addressing complex, diverse patient care issues longitudinally
- Appreciate the nature of some of the specific challenges in the provision of primary care to patients, such as addressing undifferentiated illness, chronic illnesses and preventive care issues.
- Gain skills and experience in meeting patients’ needs for prevention, problem identification and management, and complex disease management through episodic care of patients and their families in the community practice setting
Horizontal electives, unlike block electives, are done on a part-time basis while students are in full-time studies, either during the medical foundations (1-5) or clerkship rotations. Horizontal electives are completely optional and do not appear on the transcript. Many students find them a clear complement to their core studies or areas they feel interested in exploring in more detail than has occurred in their tutorials.
Attendance at the annual Introduction to Horizontal Electives Session is mandatory before arranging any horizontal elective (October). It is recommended that students not make any firm plans for horizontal electives until they have a clear idea of the time demands within a specific medical foundation or clerkship rotation.