Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
MD Education

Phases of the Curriculum

Phase 1 – Years M1 & M2

Phase 1 includes the first 20 months of instruction. Training consists of modules, clinical experiences, a mentored research project and more.

Area of Scholarly Concentration

In Phase 1, all students begin their four-year Area of Scholarly Concentration project. This highly mentored, hypothesis-driven investigation or formal project in biomedical research or a medically-related field culminates in the writing of a thesis.

Focused Clinical Experiences

Focused Clinical Experiences are brief, single visits to clinical settings that tie in to specific Science in Medicine topics and are guided by well-defined learning objectives. They foster earlier clinical skills acquisition, provide students with a more advanced starting point for clinical work in the Phase 2 clerkships and enable a more thoughtful and robust exploration of career choices. 

Longitudinal Clinical Experiences

Early exposure to patient care is a cornerstone of our program. Students have a choice of two learning environments.

  • Education-Centered Medical Home exposes students to long-term, team-based care for a panel of patients in an authentic outpatient environment.
  • The Individual Preceptorship provides students with an early exposure to patient care in order to practice history, physical and counseling skills with the guidance of a primary care mentor.

Phase 2 & 3 – Years M3 & M4

Phase 2

The second phase includes intense clinical experiences in a complete set of core clerkships that are department-based and span multiple disciplines.

In Phase 2, students continue to progress in their Area of Scholarly Concentration project. There is also elective time to allow students to pursue studies in other interest areas. SAM weeks continue, with additional opportunities to develop skills and knowledge that will benefit students in their clerkships and electives.

Phase 3

The final phase focuses on professional development and preparation for Match and advanced clinical rotations, including clerkships in:

SAM weeks revisit concepts and gain new skills that will serve them in these clerkships. The Phase 3 Teaching Selective offers clinical teaching experience, to prepare students for those responsibilities in residency. Students will also complete their Area of Scholarly Concentration project

The two-week Capstone session, in the final months prior to graduation, is designed to ease the transition from medical student to physicians.

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