MD Program Curriculum

​​​​Office of Curriculum

The Curriculum Office is responsible for developing, implementing, managing, evaluating and continuously improving the quality of the courses and clerkships that comprise the curriculum for medical students. These aims have been accomplished through the leadership and involvement of the Associate Dean for Curriculum, Curriculum Committee Chairs, basic science and clinical faculty, students and professional staff serving on phase-based Curriculum Committees and ad-hoc committees, the administration, faculty and staff of Academic Affairs, and through the direct support of our Curriculum Office staff.

The undergraduate medical school curriculum at the University of Washington is dynamic. Ongoing changes in the curriculum are actively managed by the curriculum committees.

The curriculum includes a three term classroom or Foundation Phase, a 12-month Patient Care Phase, and a 15-month Career Explore and Focus Phase. The Foundation Phase begins with the students spending 2-3 weeks in Immersion; this is when they learn the essentials of the history and physical exams. The rest of the Foundation Phase is divided into seven blocks across the three terms. Students have no more than four hours a day of contact time in the classroom, four days a week, and no more than one hour a day of lecture. The fifth day of the week is saved for the longitudinal Foundations of Clinical Medicine course which spans all three terms. The Foundations of Clinical Medicine course has the students spending one day every other week in a primary care office and the alternate week learning more in-depth clinical skills. Students will spend all three terms in their home state. The curriculum is educationally equivalent at all of the WWAMI first year sites, and common teaching materials, syllabi and examinations are given to ensure that all students are achieving the same level of competence. Many courses utilize computer-based information, and almost all communication with students outside of the classroom is through our Web pages and email. Thus, there is a requirement for all students to have a laptop computer with wireless capability. Specifications needed to access computer-based instruction are sent to entering students and are available from the Curriculum Office by calling 206.543.5562.

The Patient Care Phase incorporates basic science back into the clerkships. The Career Explore and Focus Phase will have a new advanced inpatient clerkship requirement and an advanced outpatient clerkship requirement, as well as a transition to residency requirement for all students that will be 3-4 weeks in length. Eight themes are interwoven throughout all four years of the curriculum. These include: primary care, scientific discovery, diversity, health equity, communication and interprofessionalism, quality and safety, ethics and professionalism, and life-long learning. 

The "Essential Requirements of Medical Education at the University of Washington School of Medicine: Admission, Retention, and Graduation Standards" is sent to applicants for review. It is expected that students enrolled in the School of Medicine have indicated as part of the completion of their admissions application that they have read, understood, and are able to meet these essentials with or without reasonable accommodation.

Curricular Requirements for the 2015 Entering Class and Subsequent Classes

The curriculum is designed to give students a broad and strong foundation in the basic and clinical sciences. As the field of medical science is constantly changing, the graduation requirements for the M.D. program set forth at matriculation may undergo modification that will apply to students already enrolled. The requirements include satisfactory completion of such comprehensive examinations as may be adopted by the Medical School Executive Committee. Currently, the United States Medical Licensing Examination Steps 1 and Step 2, clinical knowledge and clinical skills (formerly, National Boards Parts I and II), serve this function. Passage of the second year and senior Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) is also required.

Foundation Phase Curriculum

Generally defined as 500-level courses

  1. Required Medical Science (Basic Science) first and second year courses
  2. Scholarly project

Clinical Curriculum

Generally defined as 600-level courses

  1. Required clinical clerkships in the third year:
    • Family Medicine (6 weeks) 12 credits
    • Internal Medicine (12 weeks) 24 credits
    • Obstetrics/Gynecology (6 weeks) 12 credits
    • Pediatrics (6 weeks) 12 credits
    • Psychiatry (6 weeks) 12 credits
    • Surgery (6 weeks) 12 credits
    • Neurology (4 weeks) 8 credits offered in third or fourth year
      ​​​            Requirement can also be fulfilled by Neurosurgery (4 weeks) 8 credits
  2. Required clinical clerkships in fourth year:
    • Emergency Medicine (4 weeks) 8 credits
    • Advanced Inpatient Care (4 weeks) 8 credits
    • Advanced Outpatient Care (4 weeks)​ 8 credits
  3. Other required clinical electives:
    • (20 weeks) 40 credits
  4. Transition to Residency (8 credits)

Independent Investigative Inquiry

Non-Clinical Selectives

Capstone: Transition to Residency

Concurrent Degree Options

Concurrent degree programs, leading to the MD and MPH, and OMS/MD are available at the University of Washington. More information can be found at concurrent degree programs.

By Academic Year