The fundamental objective of the School of Medicine is to graduate physicians able to meet the health care needs of Missouri and the nation.
Classes begin in the fall of year 1. By using 35 weeks of study the first year and 48 weeks every year after that, each student will have the opportunity to earn the credits necessary for both a baccalaureate and a medical degree. This six-year continuum does not make an arbitrary separation between liberal arts and professional education.
The first two years of the six-year curriculum are arranged for the student to blend three-fourths of the time in liberal arts coursework and one-fourth of the time in introduction to medicine coursework. This initial two-year period allows students adequate time to determine whether they are motivated enough to continue in medicine. At the same time, the faculty will have adequate opportunity to judge whether each student has the characteristics and capabilities necessary for a career in medicine.
The introduction to medicine courses during the first two years are designed to provide just that -- an introduction to medicine. Special attention is given to the effect of illness on the patient, the family and the community. There is emphasis on the coordination of effort, the team approach, to the solution of medical and health care problems. The year 1 and 2 curriculum has been further enhanced with the addition of a geriatrics program which pairs students with aging mentors. The courses will integrate patient interviews and examinations with branches of science fundamental to clinical medicine, including anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, psychology and sociology.
These courses have certain coordinated objectives, each of which represents an important component in the general concept of medicine as applied to human biology. The objectives are to help students understand and learn about the following:
- The language and vocabulary of medicine.
- The effects of illness on individuals, families and communities.
- The background setting of illness and health care, including the importance of social, psychological and economic factors.
- The history of medicine and its present state.
- The roles and responsibilities of physicians and other personnel involved in health care.
- Selected content information from anatomy, physiology, chemistry, psychology, sociology and other sciences fundamental to medicine, together with the continuing importance of such information in the reasoning of the physician.
- The logic, rationale and process of clinical reasoning.
An important feature of the School of Medicine program is the early and continuing contact of the student with a team of scholars called docents. Each docent is a full-time physician responsible for the education of a small group of students. The docent serves as a role model for students as well as a guide and mentor. At year 3, students are assigned to a docent team, a group composed of students from each of year 3 through year 6 classes. Beginning in year 4, students spend two months each year on docent rotation, an internal medicine clerkship. During this time in particular, and throughout the rest of the academic year, the docents guide their students through the experiences necessary to acquire a strong foundation of clinical competence. Students in their third and fourth years are partnered with their fifth- and sixth-year peers on the docent unit.
The School of Medicine program in years 3 to 6 of the combined degree program has several features:
- The core educational program is designed and directed by physicians who are primarily concerned with medical student education and who have patient care responsibilities;
- Since the curriculum core content is based on clinical experiences, the medical student's education will be problem-centered. Faculty from many University disciplines participate in teaching medical students, and education in the clinical sciences takes place in affiliated hospitals. These hospitals provide a communitywide model for patient care;
- The curriculum integrates liberal arts, basic sciences and clinical medicine. It uses planned repetition, reinforcement and relevancy to enable students to acquire the requisite attitudes, knowledge and skills expected of a Medical School graduate;
- Students may have an extended program by taking extra time;
- During the third through sixth years, students are required to return to the Volker campus at least two times, usually in years 3 and 4, to take liberal arts coursework. Students are also required to enroll in a medical humanities course in year 5 or year 6.