In their first year of medical school, students jump right into healthcare. The David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA offers an innovative medical school curriculum that is constantly evolving to meet students' needs and to adapt to the changes in the healthcare industry.
Here's a closer look at what students can expect during their first year of medical school.
UCLA celebrates the diversity of its students, with attendees coming from across the country and the world, with varied backgrounds and medical and personal interests. Classes are also large; a first-year class has approximately180 students.
This diversity means that students have a variety of clubs and interest groups to choose from that cover an extensive range of interests, keeping them actively engaged in areas they are passionate about along with their medical education.
Courses and the learning environment
Students start their first year with a week-long course introducing them to things they will encounter as students and future physicians. After that, Zaldy Tan, MD, assistant dean of curricular affairs, explains that classes are organized by blocks according to the organ system. During the first year, there are five blocks ranging from foundations of medicine (anatomy, pharmacology, genetics, biochemistry) to cardiovascular, respiratory, gastrointestinal and endocrine systems, physiology and pathophysiology. Each block lasts about six-to-10 weeks, and students spend time in small groups, engaging in problem-based learning, lectures and interactive laboratory exercises.
"Students are exposed to dedicated basic science and clinical faculty who are nationally and internationally recognized in their fields," Dr. Tan says.
UCLA is adapting medical education to prepare students for medicine's future.
"Medical practice has changed dramatically in the past decade," Dr. Tan says. "Doctors now operate as part of interprofessional teams. Thus, we are reshaping medical instruction to promote team-based learning and communication."
The school of medicine also seeks ways to give students authentic clinical experiences early in their education careers. In addition, first- and second-year students learn to integrate the new concepts they learn through a clinical reasoning medical school curriculum thread that runs through each organ system block.
"We train students not only to understand how a vital organ such as the heart functions, but also how to apply that knowledge to diagnose or treat a disease they will likely encounter as a future physician," Dr. Tan says. "The goal is to bring to life the facts and concepts they're learning early on by solving a clinical dilemma and determining the best course of action for the virtual patients they encounter in the clinical reasoning labs."
Students gain a unique experience at UCLA, from the diversity of the students to the experience and dedication of the faculty. By attending a medical school that is part of a large, nationally ranked health system, students have access to varied clinical experiences, interesting patient populations and cutting-edge medical technology. Through their early exposure to a complex and dynamic health system, students can get a glimpse of how they will fit into a larger health delivery system.
"We are training future leaders in science, but students have the freedom to decide how they want to lead," Dr. Tan says. "First and foremost, we encourage students to be culturally competent, intellectually curious, compassionate and collaborative individuals."