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Innovative Curriculum

Medicine is constantly evolving and, as a medical student, you’ll need an innovative curriculum to match.


At VUSM, we train physician leaders through a highly personalized pathway. Our distinctive Curriculum 2.0 avoids rote memorization and competition between students. Instead, we prioritize conceptual knowledge, communication skills, and cultural competencies— all of which position our graduates to take leading roles in an evolving health care system.

Curriculum 2.0: Your pathway to medical excellence

Year 1: Foundations of Medical Knowledge

Case-based learning is the heart and soul of the first phase of Curriculum 2.0. In small-group case reviews and hands-on clinical practice, you’ll immediately apply the material from your foundation courses in the basic and social sciences to real-world patients.

Year 2: Foundations of Clinical Care

With a 13-month preclinical curriculum, you’ll start your clinical clerkships as soon as the summer after your first year.

Expert clinical reasoning and bedside manner can’t be learned from a textbook, so we place each of our students with a Master Clinical Teacher, an expert physician-educator in each clerkship who’ll train and assess you in one-on-one clinical situations.

Throughout Year 2, you’ll encounter many of the Vital Experiences that promote well-rounded clinical competency, and by the end of the year you will be able to:

  • Perform situation-appropriate history and physical exams
  • Formulate a prioritized differential diagnosis for each patient
  • Guide the creation of a patient-specific management plan

Years 3 & 4: Immersion

Following the six core clerkships, you’ll enter a two-year Immersion period of individualized learning, where you craft your own schedule with a blend of elective clinical experiences, integrated science courses, research blocks, and an acting internship.

This extended personalizable period allows you to explore areas that are most relevant for your career trajectory and interests. As you take the lead on your medical education, you’ll gain leadership skills that prepare you for residency and allow you to meaningfully contribute to your current clinical settings.

Curious about what success looks like through each of these phases? Read more about our unique system of assessment and evaluation.

Growth and Support for the Long Term

During the phases of Curriculum 2.0, you’ll continue your personal and professional development through three long-term growth experiences: Foundations of Health Care Delivery, Learning Communities, and Student Research.

Seamlessly integrated with each stage of the medical journey, it’s these recurring elements that transform VUSM students from good doctors into excellent physician-leaders.

Foundations of Health Care Delivery

Led by experts in the field, this four-year program links systems-level knowledge with real-life patient care at the bedside. Each phase brings a new focus:

  • Year 1: Getting to Know the Clinic
  • Year 2: Getting to Know the Hospital
  • Years 3 & 4: Working and Communicating in Teams
  • Years 3 & 4: Improving the Health Care System

At the end of four years, you’ll be equipped to thrive as a self-directed learner and respectful leader. You’ll have both the hard and soft skills necessary to collaborate and innovate in the health care space.

Learn more about your path through Foundations of Health Care Delivery.

Learning Communities

When the same small group of medical students and faculty gathers each week to learn together, a nurturing and trusting environment inevitably results— and that’s what Learning Communities are all about.

While our four medical student Colleges focus on student wellness and career advising, our Learning Communities develop students as thoughtful professionals and capable leaders. Over the course of four years, dedicated faculty mentors guide your cohort through growth in metacognition, ethics, leadership, and a deeper understanding of the health care environment.

Student Research

Instead of teaching you what to think, Curriculum 2.0 focuses more on teaching you how to think. All of our medical students participate in a four-year research progression, which prepares you to be a thought-leader in biomedical sciences as well as in medical practice.

Beginning with a period of exploration and planning in Years 1 and 2, this progression culminates in a 3- to 6-month research immersion, where you’ll work full-time on your research to produce a final paper ready for publication.

Learn more about the milestones of Student Research.

Throughout all stages of Curriculum 2.0, you’ll be supported by a rich network of mentors— from your first-year clinical preceptors to your fourth-year specialty advisors. Meet the mentors who’ll help you thrive at VUSM.