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Where First Year Medical Students Learn The Science Basics

Cell physiologyThe recurring theme throughout the first year of the Genes to Society curriculum is laying foundations and Scientific Foundations of Medicine (SFM) follows suit. SFM presents the language and principles of biomedical science that students will be using throughout their study of human health and disease.

Scientific Foundations of Medicine consists of six blocks: macromolecules, cell physiology, metabolism, genetics, pharmacology, and histology/pathobiology. Each block is covered in 1 to 1½ weeks and taught by a different professor who is responsible for the course content. A usual day consists of two to three lectures followed by discussion groups, and an occasional journal club depending on the block. Journal clubs, which SFM course director Dr. Se-Jin Lee hopes to expand across all blocks, teach students how to thoroughly read and understand research papers. This effort will be beneficial at the end of medical school when our newest physicians can look to primary literature to answer a question or draw their own conclusions regarding a medical issue.

Another common theme in the Genes to Society curriculum - teamwork - is echoed in the SFM discussion groups. These groups remain intact throughout the duration of the course allowing students to build relationships with each other. Varying levels of discussion groups are offered to students, allowing them to tailor their education based on prior experiences in basic science. Those who are more familiar with basic sciences can choose to be in an advanced group and have a faster paced discussion, whereas students from other fields of study can choose a more basic group that allows them to follow at a slower pace and establish a better grasp of the material.

"Since many medical students come from a variety of backgrounds and majored in fields other than science, it is important for us to have a course that brings everyone to the same page," says Allen Young, a first year medical student and member of the Medical Student Senate.

In addition to the overall goal of providing a scientific foundation for students, SFM strives to teach students how to think analytically and critically, and how to solve a problem, all of which are crucial skills in the medical field. And for those who want to pursue a career in academia, it is essential to have a strong understanding of these basic science areas.

At the conclusion of SFM, students should be able to make the connections between basic scientific information and clinical medicine as these basic science areas will be visited throughout the curriculum, thus solidifying the importance of Scientific Foundations of Medicine.