Frequently Asked Questions About Genes to Society

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Q. What are some key strengths of the curriculum?

A. The Genes to Society curriculum provides students with:

  • Horizontal Strands, or scientific, social, or clinical themes which are integrated across the four-year M.D. curriculum. The strands outline learning outcomes for each content area, covered longitudinally through the curriculum. 
  • Exposure to clinically relevant experiences from “day one” (e.g., Clinical Foundations of Medicine in Year 1, Clinical Correlations sessions within the basic science and organ systems courses where patients share lived experiences with illnesses, and Longitudinal Ambulatory Clerkship in Year 1-2)  
  • Transition courses that focus on knowledge, skills, and behaviors that guide learners in the next phase of their educational journey (e.g., Transition to the Wards, and Transition to Residency and Internship and Preparation for Life). 
  • Thorough integration of basic, clinical and social sciences throughout the four years 
  • A developmental curriculum that exposes students to increasing sophistication with increasing experience and knowledge 
  • Opportunities to integrate new clinical topics with foundational topics during the students’ tenure, building frameworks of knowledge to utilize in clinical reasoning 
  • Ample opportunities to explore specific areas of interest and/or additional degrees 
  • Coordinated avenues for the incorporation of new biomedical knowledge, new technologies and emerging multidisciplinary topics (e.g., Topics in Interdisciplinary Medicine and Translational Science courses.) 

Q. What is the grading system at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine?

A. In the pre-clerkship curriculum, all courses are graded pass/fail. By prioritizing active learning methods and using a pass/fail system in the pre-clerkship curriculum, students   can focus on active learning in teams, to synthesize new knowledge, share different perspectives and ideas, and facilitate long-term learning. The small group, active learning format mimics more closely the practice of medicine in clinical teams.  

In the clerkship curriculum, students are currently graded on a pass/fail system for core clerkships with performance expectations for passing reevaluated annually by the individual clerkship education teams, with guidance from the Office of Medical Student Curriculum and the Office of Assessment and Evaluation. The approaches to clinical assessment are regularly reviewed and updated in an effort to provide formative and summative assessment systems that promote learner growth to become patient-centered physicians.  

Q. How am I taught?

A. Learning science tells us that active learning and use of multiple learning modalities helps us achieve long-term learning and mastery. Our goal is to keep time spent in lectures less than 40 percent of required course time. The rest of your curricular time is spent in lab (e.g., anatomy and virtual microscopy), small-group discussions, case‐ and team‐based learning, peer teaching and simulation. Most unidirectional conveyance of knowledge (lectures) are prerecorded, asynchronous, and available online for students to view from any computer at any time. 

Q. What about grades?

A. Basic courses in Year One and Year Two (Foundations courses, Genes to Society, Scholarly Concentrations and all TIME courses) are pass/fail.

The clerkships, clinical electives, advanced clerkships and clinical sub-internships remain on the four‐tier system because we believe that system really helps our students match into top-tier residencies.

A comprehensive validated assessment of basic science knowledge is taken before proceeding to the clinical curriculum.

Q. Is there an attendance policy at Johns Hopkins?

A. There is an official attendance policy. In the pre-clerkship curriculum, attendance is required at active learning sessions (e.g., small-group discussions, patient clinical correlations, labs, and simulations). During clerkships and clinical courses, attendance is required at all formal learning events, and all assigned clinical shifts/duties. 

Q. How many students at Hopkins do research during medical school?

A. The Scholarly Concentrations Course facilitates development of research skills and experience for all students longitudinally, beginning in Year 1. On average, 80 percent of Year 1 students do some form of research in the summer period after Year 1. The Office of Medical Student Research and Scholarship assists students with identifying research opportunities and mentors. About 25 percent of Hopkins students step out of the medical curriculum temporarily to pursue other degrees (M.S., M.P.H., M.B.A., Ph.D.). Over 90 percent of Hopkins students report scholarly publication by the time of graduation. 

Q. Do I get a summer break?

A. When creating the Genes to Society curriculum, we felt that it was very important to maintain an ample amount of summer vacation between Years 1 and 2. The first summer provides an excellent time to work on your Scholarly Concentrations project. However, you should also feel free to travel abroad, do research and, most importantly, relax! Vacation time in the remaining years is scheduled more variably by students between clinical clerkships. Thanksgiving, Winter and Spring breaks provide additional opportunities for travel and relaxation.