MD Program - University of Houston
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Our MD program will provide students with the tools and training to be successful physicians and improve health in underserved populations by taking a comprehensive, community- and team-based approach to patient care.

Students will not simply learn how to diagnose and treat disease, but how to prevent it.

It’s medicine with a mission: Improved health and healthy communities.

Doctor with notebook

MD Curriculum Highlights

  • Students spend one half-day weekly in a primary care clinical setting throughout the entire curriculum
  • A focus on socioeconomic, environmental and other societal factors (social determinants of health) to improve patient outcomes
  • Enhanced learning via a hybrid clinical clerkship model that exposes students to various fields of medicine, simultaneously, in hospital and outpatient settings
  • Teams consisting of physician faculty, community health workers, and medical, pharmacy and social work students will make regular visits to households facing significant health disparities to address health improvement needs
  • Team-based, interactive classroom instruction to keep students engaged

Why the Primary Care Focus?

Primary care physicians are often the first point of patient contact, provide comprehensive care and develop long-term patient relationships, making them a key point-of-influence in patients’ lives. Yet, in Texas, we face a critical shortage of primary care doctors, especially in urban and rural communities. To improve health for underserved Houston and Texas residents, our program aims to produce doctors who will choose a career in primary care. 

Curriculum

UH College of Medicine’s unique and innovative curriculum will prepare students to practice high-quality, high-value patient-centered medicine in a rapidly changing and complex health system. We place a major emphasis on primary care in underserved populations, social determinants of health, community and population health, and behavioral health to improve health care disparities in urban and rural areas.

Throughout the four-year curriculum, students will be immersed in a highly integrated approach to the teaching of biomedical, clinical, behavioral and social, health system and population health sciences, complemented with robust experiential learning.

Download the Four-Year Curriculum

The UH College of Medicine pre-clerkship is based on four pillars of foundational science, and clinical knowledge and experience: Biomedical Sciences; Physicians, Patients, and Populations; Longitudinal Primary Care; and Clinical Focus Sessions.

Biomedical Sciences courses provide foundational medical science knowledge, essential to practicing medicine. The courses are taught in an integrated format and cover the following disciplines: anatomy, embryology, histology, physiology, pathophysiology, and the underlying symptoms, diagnoses, causes and treatments of common to complex conditions and diseases.

  • Clinical Anatomy and Human Development (9 weeks)
    Course focus: Gross anatomy, basics of histology, embryology and human development
  • Scientific Foundations of Medicine (9 weeks)
    Course focus: Molecular and cell biology, human genetics, key biochemical and metabolic pathways, and introduction to pharmacology and immunology
  • Integrated Organ-System Courses (9 courses: 3-6 weeks per course)
    Course focus: Gross anatomy, basics of histology, embryology and human development
    1. Integumentary System
    2. Hematologic and Lymphatic Systems
    3. Nervous System
    4. Musculoskeletal System
    5. Gastrointestinal System and Nutrition
    6. Cardiovascular and Respiratory Systems
    7. Renal and Urinary Systems
    8. Reproductive and Endocrine Systems
    9. Behavioral Medicine

(4 hours per week)
Throughout the pre-clerkship phase, the Physicians, Patients and Populations (PPP) courses develop physician-patient knowledge and competencies related to clinical skills. PPP topics include communication, professionalism, medical ethics, social determinants, health disparities, evidence-based medicine, clinical reasoning and decision-making, population health, health informatics, quality improvement, patient safety, scientific methodology, health systems and policy.

A student scholarly project will be one of the requirements, the results of which will be presented at a UH College of Medicine Research Day.

The Longitudinal Primary Care (LPC) course runs all four years of the MD program. In the pre-clerkship phase of the LPC course, PPP knowledge and competencies are applied in real-world settings through two types of patient experiences:

  • Continuity Clinic (4 hours per week)
    Long-term placement in an ambulatory clinical setting to practice history-taking, physical examination, communication skills and patient management on patients — under the supervision of attending primary care physicians. Students will learn to function as a member of a primary care team, providing continuity of care to patients.
  • Household-centered Care (10 total visits)
    As part of an interprofessional team, students will make ten visits to a household facing complex health challenges to learn about the social determinants of health (SDOH), how to identify appropriate support services and make referrals. The interprofessional team will consist of physician faculty, community health workers and professional students from other UH colleges, such as pharmacy and social work. During household-centered care, students will design and participate in community-oriented, quality improvement projects designed to address SDOH at the community level.

Interspersed throughout the pre-clerkship are six one-week Clinical Focus Sessions. Each session is dedicated to a different interdisciplinary topic related to the College of Medicine’s mission and today’s societal medical challenges. The sessions integrate biomedical science concepts with important clinical and population-oriented aspects of health and health care.

  • Clinical Focus Session 1: Our Community, Our Mission
    Introduces students to the neighboring historic Third Ward community of Houston, Texas and the social determinants of health that impact its residents.
  • Clinical Focus Session 2: Closing the Quality Gap
    Explores the health of populations, health equity, health disparities and models for quality improvement in health care. Through project-based learning, students will integrate biomedical, clinical, health systems and behavioral sciences.
  • Clinical Focus Session 3: Coping with Pain
    Explores the biomedical science of pain, the prevalence of chronic pain in the U.S., clinical tools to assess pain and interprofessional modalities to treat it. Through project-based learning, students will integrate biomedical, clinical, health systems and behavioral sciences.
  • Clinical Focus Session 4: Transcending Borders
    Explores multiple topics related to global health including neglected tropical diseases, stigmatization, social determinants of health worldwide, and unique aspects of health care for refugee and immigrant populations. Through project-based learning, students will integrate biomedical, clinical, health systems and behavioral sciences.
  • Clinical Focus Session 5: Living and Dying with Dignity
    Examines and emphasizes the importance of end of life and palliative care. Students will explore comprehensive methods to assess emotional and physical pain near the end of life, and how to identify the emotional and spiritual needs of patients in a team-oriented approach. Through project-based learning, students will integrate biomedical, clinical, health systems and behavioral sciences.
  • Clinical Focus Session 6: From Substance Abuse to Thriving Life
    This session will focus on the continuum from substance misuse to addiction and evidence-based interventions that can return the patient to a thriving life.

Advancement to the Phase 2: Core Clerkship includes completion of the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) Comprehensive Basic Science Examination and the Transitions to Clerkship course.

  • NBME Comprehensive Basic Science Examination
    Two weeks will be dedicated to CBSE review and testing to assess comprehension of pre-clerkship knowledge and content (no grade will be recorded on the student transcript).
  • Transition to Clerkships (T2C) Course
    The T2C course reinforces both the oral presentation and clinical skills needed in hands-on care of patients throughout the remainder of the curriculum. This course will include Advanced Cardiac Life Support (students are expected to have Basic Life Support training complete upon matriculation) as well as a review of common clinical procedures, ECG, common x-ray interpretation, history-taking and note writing.

The UH College of Medicine core clerkship provides patient encounters from the six core clinical disciplines — surgery, internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics-gynecology, family medicine and psychiatry — through the Longitudinal Integrated Clerkship and continuation of the Longitudinal Primary Care.

Throughout the core clerkship, UH College of Medicine students will participate in the Longitudinal Integrated Clerkship (LIC), which is based on a hybrid-rotation model that exposes students to various fields of medicine, simultaneously, for enhanced learning and retention of knowledge. In this model, learning occurs within concentrated experiences in four hospital-based inpatient settings of internal medicine, surgery, pediatrics and obstetrics-gynecology. In addition, students will learn across longitudinal, primarily ambulatory, experiences to allow continuity of patient contact and care, assessment and supervision, and clinical and cultural engagement.

LIC experiences include:

  • Four immersion rotations (4 weeks each)
    Surgery, internal medicine, pediatrics and obstetrics-gynecology
  • Longitudinal ambulatory experience (24 weeks)
    Will include encounters in surgery, internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics-gynecology, family medicine and psychiatry
  • Additional weekly educational sessions (4 hours per week)
    Sessions will include case-based conferences to reaffirm the fundamental principles of evaluation and management of common clinical problems, patient simulations and core biomedical content.

During the core clerkship, Longitudinal Primary Care experiences focus on patient interaction, diagnosis and treatment in a continuity clinic and household-centered care.

Advancement to the Advanced Clerkship Curriculum includes successful completion of the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Step 1 examination.

  • USMLE Step 1 Examination
    Students will have six weeks, before beginning Phase 3, to prepare for and take the USMLE Step 1 exam. (If needed, up to eight weeks will be allowed).

The advanced clerkship allows students to pursue individual interests and includes advanced rotations, elective experiences and continuation of Longitudinal Primary Care. During the advanced clerkship, students will be allowed to spend up to eight weeks interviewing for residency positions.

  • Intensive Care Unit (4-week rotation)
    Students may choose medical, surgical, neurological, pediatric or newborn ICU
  • Sub-internship (4-week rotation)
    Students may choose medicine, surgery, pediatrics, obstetrics-gynecology, psychiatry, neurology or family medicine
  • Emergency Medicine (4-week rotation)
  • Rural Health (4-week rotation)

Students will work with their advisors to determine their electives. Students will have the option, and be encouraged, to spend up to 12 weeks of their elective time in the development of a scholarly concentration, and completion of a scholarly project. Scholarly concentrations can be in the field of primary care, community health, population health, global health, health informatics, health care administration, quality improvement, patient safety, health policy or biomedical ethics. Scholarly projects can focus on original research, systematic review of the medical literature, quality improvement initiative, community engagement and partnership project to improve community health.

During the advanced clerkship, Longitudinal Primary Care experiences focus on patient interaction, diagnosis and treatment in a continuity clinic and household-centered care.

Completion of the UH College of Medicine MD program includes successful completion of the USMLE Step 2CK (Clinical Knowledge) and Step 2 CS (Clinical Skills) examinations and the Transition to Residency course.

  • USMLE Step 2 CK/CS examinations
    The passing of the USMLE Step 2 CK and Step 2 CS will be required prior to graduation.
  • Transition to Residency (T2R) course
    The T2R course provides intensive review and learning activities to ensure that each student has completed the medical education program competencies and objectives and possesses the knowledge, skills, behaviors, and attitudes necessary to successfully perform as a first-year resident in their chosen specialty.

Academic Calendar

First Year Curriculum Class of 2024

Schedule

Activity

July 20 - July 24, 2020

Orientation Week

July 27

First Day of Fall courses

Sept 7

Labor Day

Dec 11

Last Day of Fall courses

Dec 14 - Jan 1, 2021

Winter Break

Jan 4

First Day of Spring courses

April 19 - 23

Spring Break

May 31

Memorial Day

June 11

Last Day of Spring courses

June 14 - July 30

Summer Break

Program Objectives

Provide patient-centered care that is compassionate, appropriate and effective for the treatment of health problems and the promotion of health.

  • Perform essential medical, diagnostic and surgical procedures.
  • Gather essential and accurate information about patients and their conditions through history-taking, physical examination, and the use of laboratory data, imaging and other tests.
  • Organize and prioritize responsibilities to provide care that is safe, effective and efficient.
  • Interpret laboratory data, imaging studies and other tests required for evidence-based patient care.
  • Make informed decisions about diagnostic and therapeutic interventions based on patient information and preferences, up-to-date scientific evidence and clinical judgment.
  • Develop and propose patient management plans.
  • Counsel and educate patients and their families to empower them to participate in their care and enable shared decision-making.
  • Propose appropriate referral of patients including ensuring continuity of care throughout transitions between providers or settings and following up on patient progress and outcomes.
  • Describe health care services to patients, families, and communities aimed at preventing health problems or maintaining health.

Demonstrate knowledge of established and evolving biomedical, clinical, epidemiological and social-behavioral sciences, as well as the application of this knowledge to patient care.

  • Demonstrate an analytic approach to clinical situations.
  • Apply scientific principles fundamental to health care for patients and populations.
  • Apply principles of clinical sciences to diagnostic and therapeutic decision-making and clinical problem-solving.
  • Apply principles of epidemiological sciences to the identification of health problems, risk factors, treatment strategies, resources and disease prevention/health promotion efforts for patients and populations.
  • Apply principles of social-behavioral sciences to provision of patient care, including assessment of the impact of psychosocial and cultural influences on health and well-being, disease, care-seeking, care compliance and barriers to and attitudes toward care.
  • Understand the importance of the many factors that influence health, disease and disability in the population.
  • Contribute to the creation, dissemination, application, and translation of new health care knowledge and practices.

Demonstrate the ability to investigate and evaluate one’s care of patients, to appraise and assimilate scientific evidence, and to continuously improve patient care based on constant self-evaluation and life-long learning.

  • Identify strengths, deficiencies and limits in one's knowledge and expertise.
  • Set learning and improvement goals.
  • Identify and perform learning activities that address one's gaps in knowledge, skills and/or attitudes.
  • Systematically analyze practice using quality improvement methods and propose changes with the goal of practice improvement.
  • Incorporate external feedback into academic and clinical performance.
  • Locate, appraise and assimilate evidence from scientific studies related to patients' health problems.
  • Use information technology to optimize learning.
  • Participate in the education of patients, families, learners and other health professionals.
  • Obtain and utilize information about individual patients, populations of patients or communities to improve care.
  • Continually identify, analyze, and implement new knowledge, guidelines, standards, technologies, products or services that have been demonstrated to improve outcomes.

Demonstrate interpersonal and communication skills that result in the effective exchange of information and collaboration with patients, their families and health professionals.

  • Listen to and communicate effectively with patients, families and the public, as appropriate, across a broad range of socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds.
  • Listen to and communicate effectively with colleagues, other health professionals, health related agencies and community partners.
  • Work effectively with others as a member or leader of a health care team or other professional group.
  • Maintain comprehensive, timely medical records.
  • Communicate with sensitivity, honesty and compassion.
  • Demonstrate insight and understanding about emotions and human responses to emotions that allow one to develop and manage interpersonal interactions.

Demonstrate a commitment to carrying out professional responsibilities and an adherence to ethical principles.

  • Demonstrate compassion, integrity and respect for others.
  • Demonstrate responsiveness to patient needs that supersedes self-interest.
  • Demonstrate respect for patient privacy and autonomy.
  • Demonstrate accountability to patients, society and the profession.
  • Demonstrate sensitivity and responsiveness to a diverse patient population, including, but not limited to diversity in gender, age, culture, race, religion, disabilities and sexual orientation.
  • Demonstrate a commitment to ethical principles pertaining to provision or withholding of care, confidentiality, informed consent, and business practices, including compliance with relevant laws, policies and regulations.

Demonstrate an awareness of and responsiveness to the larger context and system of health care, as well as the ability to call effectively on other resources in the system to provide optimal health care.

  • Work effectively in various health care delivery and community-based settings and systems.
  • Coordinate patient care within the health care system relevant to one's clinical specialty.
  • Incorporate considerations of cost awareness and risk-benefit analysis in patient and/or population-based care.
  • Advocate for quality patient care and optimal patient care systems in collaboration with community partners.
  • Participate in identifying system errors and implementing potential systems solutions for the purpose of maximizing patient safety.
  • Perform administrative and practice management responsibilities commensurate with one’s role, abilities and qualifications.

Demonstrate the ability to engage in an interprofessional team in a manner that optimizes safe, effective patient- and population-centered care.

  • Work with other health professionals to establish and maintain a climate of mutual respect, dignity, diversity, ethical integrity and trust.
  • Use the knowledge of one’s own role and the roles of other health professionals and community partners to appropriately assess and address the health care needs of the patients and populations served.
  • Communicate with other health professionals in a responsive and responsible manner that supports the maintenance of health and the treatment of disease in individual patients and populations.
  • Participate in different team roles to establish, develop and continuously enhance interprofessional teams to provide patient- and population-centered care that is safe, timely, efficient, effective and equitable.

Demonstrate the qualities required to sustain lifelong personal and professional growth.

  • Develop the ability to use self-awareness of knowledge, skills and emotional limitations to engage in appropriate help-seeking behaviors.
  • Demonstrate healthy coping mechanisms to respond to stress.
  • Manage conflict between personal and professional responsibilities.
  • Practice flexibility and maturity in adjusting to change with the capacity to alter one's behavior.
  • Demonstrate trustworthiness that makes colleagues feel secure when one is responsible for the care of patients.
  • Provide leadership skills that enhance team functioning, the learning environment, community engagement and/or the health care delivery system.
  • Demonstrate self-confidence that puts patients, families and members of the health care team at ease.
  • Recognize that ambiguity is part of clinical health care and respond by utilizing appropriate resources in dealing with uncertainty.