AUC Medical Sciences Curriculum
AUC’s curriculum is grounded in authentic clinical case-based teaching that begins in the first semester. You’ll participate in clinical care scenarios in our simulation center, where you will use cues given by high-fidelity simulated patients to develop clinical reasoning, learn how to approach diagnosis, and practice working on a patient care team.
You’ll also learn how to take a patient’s history and perform a physical exam while working with standardized patients. Long before you enter clinical training at a teaching hospital, you will learn how to apply your medical sciences knowledge to patient care.
Upon completion of the medical sciences curriculum, students are required to take and pass the United States Medical Licensing Exam ® (USMLE®) Step 1 before proceeding on to the clinical sciences portion of the program for their clinical rotations.
Integrated Organ Systems-Based Model
AUC introduced an integrated organ systems-based curriculum beginning in the September 2021 semester for incoming students in AUC’s Sint Maarten cohort, and in the September 2022 semester for AUC’s UK-Track. You can read more about both curricula below.
Curriculum redesign is a multi-year process, and we will continue to offer our current discipline-based curriculum— which we will refer to as our “legacy curriculum,” composed of separate basic sciences and clinical medicine courses—simultaneously as we introduce the integrated organ systems-based curriculum for subsequent incoming cohorts of students. Both curricula share the same program goals, and both effectively prepare medical students for success on the USMLE Step 1.
INTEGRATED ORGAN SYSTEMS-BASED CURRICULUM
MOLECULES TO MEDICINE (20 CREDIT HOURS)
The Molecules to Medicine module will provide students with a current understanding of the intimate interplay between molecular structures and functions, intracellular molecular systems, and human pathologies using a systemic approach. As the introductory module in the Medical Sciences curriculum, Molecules to Medicine provides a reliable multidisciplinary source of knowledge that will serve as the fundamental base to current concepts in medicine. Content is provided using evidence-based cases to facilitate critical-thinking and problem-solving skills. Communication, collaborative teamwork, and the development of skills in systems-based practice are introduced early and practiced with the intention of improving patient outcomes. Students will be able to demonstrate knowledge about the established and evolving core of basic medical sciences, apply knowledge of basic medical sciences to patient care, and develop investigatory and critical thinking approaches.
HEMATOLOGY, ONCOLOGY, ATTACK AND DEFENSE (10 CREDIT HOURS)
The Hematology, Oncology, Attack and Defense module provides a comprehensive and in-depth study of normal and abnormal blood physiology, hematological oncology, pharmacology, histology and embryology, pathology, immunology, and microbiology. Clinical aspects of anemia, leukemia, lymphoma, bleeding disorders, immunologic disorders, and neoplasms are considered. Various clinical abnormalities of blood and immune systems are discussed. In addition to these topics, aspects of pharmacology, imaging, public health, psychosocial aspects of illness, ethics, and health care transformation are presented. This module continues the application of problem-solving and analytical thinking skills to clinically integrated problems in basic medical science.
MUSCULOSKELETAL AND SKIN (10 CREDIT HOURS)
Musculoskeletal and Dermatology module aims to examine the organ systems of the skin and the musculoskeletal structures. The students will develop theoretical and clinical skills via lectures, online learning, and clinical workshops to develop in depth knowledge of concepts and clinical skills in the musculoskeletal and dermatology fields. Clinical medicine will foster the development of objective, data-driven evaluation skills in the evaluation of scientific and clinical data especially in the medical literature and case studies in the field of musculoskeletal and dermatology fields.
CARDIOVASCULAR (10 CREDIT HOURS)
The Cardiovascular module will provide students with a detailed understanding of the cardiovascular system that integrates knowledge from scientific disciplines and clinical medicine. Development of skills in use and interpretation of clinical investigative techniques and critical and analytical thinking skills in the evaluation of scientific and clinical information as applied to diagnosis of cardiovascular disorders are essential aspects of the module.
RESPIRATORY AND RENAL (10 CREDIT HOURS)
The Respiratory and Renal module will provide students with a detailed understanding of the respiratory and renal systems that integrates knowledge from scientific disciplines and clinical medicine. Development of skills in use and interpretation of clinical investigative techniques and critical and analytical thinking skills in the evaluation of scientific and clinical information as applied to diagnosis of respiratory and renal disorders are essential aspects of the module.
GASTROINTESTINAL AND NUTRITION (10 CREDIT HOURS)
The Gastroenterology-Nutrition module will discuss and integrate the normal anatomy, embryology, histology, and physiology of the gastrointestinal system and the role of nutrition in human health. The normal functioning of the GI system will be compared to pathologies at the molecular, biochemical, cellular, tissue, and whole-organ levels. An evidence-based and patient-centered approach will be applied to the teaching of how to manage and maintain a healthy gastrointestinal system.
ENDOCRINE AND REPRODUCTIVE (10 CREDIT HOURS)
The Endocrine and Reproductive module will concentrate teaching on normal and abnormal male/female reproduction and normal and abnormal endocrine function. A multidisciplinary approach including embryology, anatomy, histology, physiology, pharmacology and pathology will establish the core medical knowledge required for these organ systems. Module concepts will include normal and abnormal endocrine function and disease states produced from pathologic conditions of the adrenal, thyroid, parathyroid, pancreas, liver, hypothalamus and pituitary glands, adipose tissue, and the reproductive organs. As the basic foundational knowledge is established the clinical medicine component of the module will integrate all aspects of the science and art of medicine. The subject matter will also cover public health, ethics, and social disparities and effects on endocrine and reproductive health.
BRAIN AND BEHAVIOR (10 CREDITS HOURS)
The Brain and Behavior module will integrate and discuss the normal and abnormal anatomy, embryology, histology, and physiology of the central and peripheral nervous system. The etiology and process of development for these systems will be included. The nervous system's functional and behavioral expression will be covered from molecular, biochemical, anatomical, genetic, psychological, psychiatric, psychosocial, geographic, and cultural perspectives. This will be applied in the evidence-based and patient-centered processes of assessing and diagnosing various neurological and psychiatric disorders.
CLINICAL REASONING (10 CREDITS HOURS)
The Clinical Reasoning Course serves as a capstone experience to the medical sciences curriculum. Students are expected to demonstrate competency at clinical skills using a multistation Objective Structured Clinical Examinations. This module also focuses on the final preparation for USMLE Step 1.
- Learning Enhancement Course 101 (1 Credit Hour)
- Learning Enhancement Course 201 (5 Credit Hours)
- Learning Enhancement Course 202 (5 Credit Hours)
- Learning Enhancement Course 301 (5 Credit Hours)
- Learning Enhancement Course 302 (5 Credit Hours)
- Learning Enhancement Course 401 (5 Credit Hours)
- Learning Enhancement Course 402 (5 Credit Hours)
- Learning Enhancement Course 501 (5 Credit Hours)
- Learning Enhancement Course 502 (5 Credit Hours)
- Independent Community Engagement Elective 630 (1 Credit Hour)
- Independent Community Engagement Elective 631 (1 Credit Hour)
- Independent Community Engagement Elective 632 (1 Credit Hour)
- Independent Research Elective 601 (1 Credit Hour)
- Independent Research Elective 602 (2 Credit Hours)
- Independent Research Elective 603 (3 Credit Hours)
- Disaster Medicine Elective (1 Credit Hour)
- Service Learning Elective 620 (1 Credit Hour)
- Service Learning Elective 621 (1 Credit Hour)
- Service Learning Elective 622 (1 Credit Hour)
Molecular Cellular Biology I is designed to help students develop an understanding of the fundamental molecular processes that define human development and homeostasis. This is an introductory course covering the basics of human genetics, protein structure, nucleic acid, biochemistry, cellular structure and metabolism. Throughout the course emphasis is placed on comparison of the normal state with the abnormal one. For this reason, whenever instructive, the core material is accompanied by pertinent clinical correlations that use common, classical conditions.
Anatomy / Embryology / Histology focuses on the anatomical basis of clinical medicine. Clinical applications are stressed while formal instruction of the human body’s regional macroscopic and microscopic composition is presented. Medical Students participate in supervised laboratory sessions that involve dissecting human cadavers, so that they become familiar with human anatomical structures. Basic principles of embryogenesis used in diagnosis, care and prevention of birth defects are stressed, and case studies are introduced throughout the course.
This course is divided into 11 modules over a three-week period and is divided into two parts. The first part introduces students to the concepts involved in the cellular basis of human development. Initially, the cellular basis of gametogenesis is examined. Important structural cellular changes (morphological landmarks) of embryo and fetal development are then studied with a focus on the first three weeks of prenatal life. Additionally, the role of the various germ layers and precursors to definitive structures, including the role of cell interactions, induction, growth, and differentiation are discussed.
The second part consists of an in-depth examination of all the major organ systems. This system based study first looks at development of the primitive body cavities and the refinements into their final form. Cardiovascular, Musculoskeletal, Urogenital, Gastrointestinal and Respiratory Systems are studied next due to the similar nature of the mechanisms that form these widely divergent systems. Finally, head and neck, nervous system and special senses are examined due to their unique and complex developmental nature. This course concludes with a cellular and molecular evaluation of congenital anomalies.
Throughout the entire course extensive clinical correlations are discussed as well as the correlation of developmental events with the structural organization of the human body as observed in the study of gross anatomy and histology.
Anatomy / Embryology / Histology focuses on the anatomical basis of clinical medicine. Clinical applications are stressed while formal instruction of the human body’s regional macroscopic and microscopic composition is presented. Students participate in supervised laboratory sessions that involve dissecting human cadavers, so that they become familiar with human anatomical structures. Basic principles of embryogenesis used in diagnosis, care and prevention of birth defects are stressed, and case studies are introduced throughout the course.
Introduction to Clinical Medicine is a four semester clinical skills curriculum presented during the medical sciences years. The curriculum is designed to lay the foundation for the clinical skills essential to the practice of medicine. The program is presented predominantly in small groups so that students have the opportunity to practice their skill under the direct observation of a faculty member. Clinical skills covered include physical examination, interviewing and communication skills. In addition problem solving and presentation of disease is presented through case based learning. Introduction to Clinical Medicine II is the first of the four courses. Students learn communication and relationship building skills through the use of standardized patients. Physical examination skills are presented in an organ based fashion and include the head and neck examas well as vital signs and the cardiovascular examination. Harvey, the cardiac sound simulator, is used to introduce students to the normal heart sounds.
Molecular Cellular Biology II develops upon the themes presented in the initial course with exploration of the cell’s nitrogen economy, details of lipid metabolism and the major concepts of nutrition. The biology of cancer provides an introduction to noeplasia (as presented in the pathology courses) and acts as an illustration of the regulation of the cell cycle and the basic science underlying treatment.
The course also includes more in-depth analysis of genetic concepts. Detailed review material is included prior to Biochemistry and Genetics shelf examinations in the latter part of the course.
Physiology I is the foundation course for understanding normal body function. Medical students gain an appreciation for the balance between and within the various organ systems required to maintain steady functioning of the human body. The course builds from an early emphasis on the basic principles of physiology moving on to the exploration of nerve-muscle function involuntary and smooth muscle, gastrointestinal system, and culminating in a detailed analysis of the heart and vascular system. Pathophysiology is used to analyze system function and compensation during clinically relevant disease processes.
Immunology-Infection is designed to help students gain a working knowledge of the immune system, the development of immune responses to infectious pathogens, and the methodologies used to measure parameters of the immune response. The course also covers the description, underlying bases, prevention and treatment of infectious disease and chronic disease resulting from autoimmune responses, immunodeficiencies, cancers, and problems encountered in organ transplantation.
Statistics are important tools that help us better understand causes and consequences of human medical problems. This course covers the basics of biostatistics and quantitative methods in epidemiology and clinical applications in evidence-based medicine and decision-making methods.
The course also provides students with exposure to the necessary tools for evaluating the medical and epidemiological literature. The philosophical framework and methodology of disease causation, prevention and prediction will be presented.
Introduction to Clinical Medicine is a four semester clinical skills curriculum presented during the medical science years. The curriculum is designed to lay the foundation for the clinical skills essential to the practice of medicine.
The program is presented predominantly in small groups so that medical students have the opportunity to practice their skill under the direct observation of a faculty member. Clinical skills covered include physical examination, interviewing and communication skills. In addition problem solving and presentation of disease is presented through case based learning. Introduction to Clinical Medicine II is the first of the four courses.
Students learn communication and relationship building skills through the use of standardized patients. Physical examination skills are presented in an organ based fashion and include the head and neck exam as well as vital signs and the cardiovascular examination. Harvey, the cardiac sound simulator, is used to introduce students to the normal heart sounds.
Pathology I introduces students to the cellular systems of organs and traces the morphologic changes in a cell that are responsible for disease in organs. As cells undergo alteration, their change in function is studied with respect to its deviation from the “normal” state. Topics such as inflammation, repair and regeneration, neoplasia, genetic basis of diseases and infection are explored.
It then continues the study of pathologic basis of diseases using a physiologic system or organ-based approach. Appropriate use of the laboratory is stressed in the diagnosis of disease while case presentations further emphasize the clinical aspects of the pathologic processes. This course serves as a precursor to Pathology II.
Physiology II continues to build on the foundation established in Physiology I. Students are required to take Physiology I prior to taking Physiology II. The course continues the study of the function of human body organ systems with a comprehensive analysis of the endocrine and reproductive systems. Fluid and electrolyte balance is studied with a detailed analysis of the renal system.
The course is completed with study of the pulmonary system and the analysis of clinically relevant, common acid-base disorders and their physiological compensation. At the end of the course, all medical students will have a firm grasp of body system function and integration of systems. Students will demonstrate the ability to analyze and identify the impact of diseases processes on normal human physiology.
The Medical Microbiology course is designed to give the prospective physician an understanding of the microbial pathogens and the mechanisms by which they cause disease. General microbiology is taught within the context of a syndrome based infectious disease format.
Introduction to Clinical Medicine III continues to build on the skills presented in the previous semester. As in Introduction to Clinical Medicine II small groups allow students to practice communication skills and physical examination skills under the direct supervision of a faculty member.
The full medical history is presented with an emphasis on prevention and evaluation of risk. Medical documentation and case presentation are introduced. Physical examination skills included in this semester include abnormal heart sounds, thorax and lung exam and the abdominal exam. In order to promote lifelong learning case based learning with required independent research of material is introduced in this semester. Harvey is used to introduce abnormal heart sounds.
Pathology II continues to apply the basic concepts learned in Pathology I for the study of pathologic basis of disease using a physiologic system or organ-based approach. This course covers organs and systems not presented in Pathology I. Appropriate use of the laboratory is stressed in the diagnosis of disease while case presentations further emphasize the clinical aspects of the pathologic processes. Successful completion of Pathology I is required to enroll in this course.
Medical Pharmacology concentrates on how chemical agents (drugs) regulate or modify physiological functions of the body. The course demonstrates how interactions of drugs with living organisms contribute to diagnosis, prevention, treatment and/or cure of diseases.
The major emphasis in the first part of the course will be on the general principles of pharmacology (pharmacodynamics, pharmacokinetics, pharmacogenetics, adverse drug reactions, teratogenicity, etc.). The next topic will be drugs affecting the autonomic nervous system, followed by drugs affecting the brain and their use in the treatment of neuropathology. Subsequent topics will include the pharmacology and therapeutics of drugs used in cancer chemotherapy, infectious diseases, endocrine disorders, respiratory and cardiovascular disorders, inflammatory and immune disorders, and drugs affecting the gastrointestinal tract. The emphasis will be on prototypical drugs in each class, their mechanism of action, clinical use, side effects and interactions with other drugs. At the end of this course students will take a comprehensive examination covering all the material presented in Medical Pharmacology.
Medical students are required to take Physiology I and II prior to taking the neuroscience course. Neuroscience is a course effectively integrating neurochemistry, neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, neuropathology, neuropharmacology, and basics of medical neurology. The course serves as a strong foundation for the analysis of common basic clinical neurological disorders. Starting with an intense overview of the nervous systems, the course systematically examines the sensory and motor systems with special emphasis on the plastic changes within each system associated with age, disuse, or lesions. Advanced analysis of cortical function and associated lesions due to stroke, epilepsy, and tumor complete the course. Students successfully completing the course will be able to correctly identify common neurological deficits.
Introduction to Clinical Medicine IV.1 is a continuation of the previous semester’s course with the introduction of the neurological examination and reviewing and expanding the musculoskeletal examination. Emphasis in this semester begins to shift from basic clinical skills to clinical decision making. As such interviews shift to more focused interviews with an emphasis on developing and documenting a history of present illness that includes key elements in the history needed to prioritize a differential diagnosis. Documentation of assessment and plans and progress notes are introduced.
The behavioral science course is designed to teach essential skills of identification and effective management of patient behavior through practical application of the biopsychosocial model of human behavior. The course will develop skills in the behavioral basis of clinical medicine focusing on mind-body interactions in health and disease, physician-patient interactions, and contemporary social/cultural issues in health care. Interview skills and the assessment of psychosocial risk factors at each stage of human development will be taught. Psychopathology will be presented from the DSM 5 as it applies to primary care, referral, and management. Students will study diagnostic criteria, prevalence rates, differential diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment of all major mental disorders. This knowledge will be applied in small group assignments of the clinical medicine curriculum. Clinical case examples in primary care settings will be discussed to prepare students for the Behavioral Subject and the USMLE Step 1 Examination.
This course is predominantly case based learning. Students meet in small groups under the supervisions of a faculty member to discuss cases representing common symptoms such as chest pain or fatigue. Emphasis is on the development of a differential diagnosis, presentation of disease, pathophysiology of disease and initial evaluation and treatment. Students are given the opportunity to present cases in preparation for requirements of the clinical years.
Students perform a physical examination based on a defined checklist of items provided to them when they first start the ICM curriculum. Genital examinations are taught through the use of professional patients. Students also have two clinical experiences with local physicians. Simulations include interviews with standardized patients and emergent scenarios in the high tech simulation center. Interviewing skills workshops are integrated with Behavioral Science. These sessions include practice in motivational interviewing skills, closing the interview, performing the minimental status examination and documenting the mental status examination. Group interviews include focused visits and full histories and cover topics that include abdominal pain, fatigue, substance abuse, domestic violence and mood disorder. Each student performs and documents a final complete history in preparation for their clinical clerkships.
The Introduction to Clinical Medicine VI course comprises two parts, Basic Medical Science Live Reviews and NBME Assessment. The Comprehensive Basic Science, Pathophysiology and Microbiology/Immunology Live Reviews provide an overview of clinical cases and correlations. The focus of the live review is on application and integration of knowledge rather than recall of isolated facts. Students review the Basic Medical Science, individual disciplines and organ systems with the review books and online ebooks. The course is structured with various subject examinations and the comprehensive examinations to promote improvement in learning and problem solving. Students will take the Diagnostics, which provide a tool for identifying individual’s weaknesses as well as strengths across disciplines and organ systems. The individual scores on the NBME examinations are compared with national norms relevant to the assessment of students’ competencies.
Medical Ethics is designed to introduce ethical, professional and legal issues that arise in the practice of medicine. This course provides students with basic tools used to recognize ethical, professional and legal conflicts in clinical settings, as well as resources used to critically examine and address questions and concerns that these conflicts present.
- Independent Research 601 (1 Credit Hour)
- Independent Research 602 (2 Credit Hours)
- Independent Research 603 (3 Credit Hours)
- Service Learning 611 (1 Credit Hour)
- Service Learning 612 (2 Credit Hours)
- Service Learning 613 (3 Credit Hours)
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