Skip to main content

Foundations of Medical Knowledge (FMK)

Year 1: Laying the Foundations

With our pass/fail curriculum and case-based learning at the center, your M1 year is a time of exploration and broad learning.

The first phase of your medical journey is known as Foundations of Medical Knowledge (FMK), and it provides just that: a solid, broad foundation of knowledge and skills for the medical environment. From team-based learning to standardized patients to gross anatomy dissection, this year fully prepares you to jump into full-time clinical clerkships in your M2 year.

Your Growth in Year 1

How can you measure success during your M1 year? Here are just a few of the ways you’ll track your own growth during this foundational stage:

  • Pass/fail standardized block exams at the end of each of the six course blocks
  • Self-assessment and peer assessment from case-based learning
  • Narrative feedback from your course directors and small group facilitators

Your portfolio coach will guide you in processing all this feedback data so that you can name your own strengths, areas for growth, and goals moving forward.

Want to learn more about M1 assessment? Check out our unique approach to student growth.

Meet an M1: Sachin

Sachin M1During his first year at Vanderbilt, Sachin reclaimed the good in Mondays.

“Mondays are my favorite, just because of the scope of medical knowledge and learning that I get to experience on that day,” says Sachin, who spends Monday afternoons with a team in a VUMC congenital heart defect clinic.

All our M1s spend at least one afternoon a week in clinic, practicing history and physical exam skills and interacting with patients. Plus, Sachin says, it’s the perfect way to put your classroom knowledge into practice.

“Being able to start to apply those pieces of medical knowledge and things that we’re learning in physical diagnosis to patient care has been really exciting,” he says. “It’s one of the things I look forward to most every week.”

FMK Phase Leadership

Neil Osheroff, PhD
Neil Osheroff, PhD
Cathy Pettepher, PhD
Cathy Pettepher, PhD


Dr. Osheroff and Dr. Pettepher don’t just oversee the pre-clinical curriculum— they designed it! As part of the four faculty members charged with rewriting the pre-clerkship phase for Curriculum 2.0, they know this phase inside and out.

Besides leading your very first block in med school— Human Blueprint and Architecture —Dr. Pettepher and Dr. Osheroff also work closely with your representatives on the Student Curriculum Committee to innovate and update the curriculum based on your direct feedback.

As experts in preclinical medical education, these leaders are pioneers in medical science education, but don’t be intimidated— they’re excited to be your first and best resource for questions, advice, and feedback on this first phase of your medical journey.