The Doctor of Medicine (MD) program at PHSU – St. Louis is a LCME accredited, culturally-focused 4-year program providing students with an ethnically-diverse, innovative and tech-driven education in a variety of medical practices.
The first two academic years provide a pre-clinical foundation with core disciplines as well as an introduction to clinical skills, behavioral science, and medical ethics.
Our interactive and innovative curriculum helps prepare students for clinicals in core specialties during their third and fourth year. With an additional five months of advanced specialty elective rotations, students graduate with a culturally competent and high-impact degree ready to serve communities in need.
4 years (166 weeks)
January 31st 2023
The Medical Education Program at Ponce Health Sciences University (PHSU-SOM) is a 4-year program with a duration of 166 weeks. It grants a doctor of medicine degree (MD). The Program consists of two years of pre-clinical (basic science) courses in the core disciplines of Gross Anatomy, Histology and Cell Biology, Biochemistry, Physiology, Pathology, Pharmacology, Microbiology/Immunology and Neurosciences.
ANA 601 — Human Gross Anatomy, Embryology and Imaging
The Human Gross Anatomy, Embryology & Imaging course consists of a detailed study of the normal structure, development and organization of the human body. This course undertakes a regional approach rather than a systemic approach to Human Gross Anatomy, Embryology & Imaging is distributed into three block contents. Gross structures are studied in the laboratory by specimen prosection and demonstration. The radiology component of Gross Anatomy serves as the introduction to radiology and prepares the student for further development. Lectures stress the contribution of developmental events to gross anatomical organization and the correlation of this organization with clinically relevant conditions.
ANA 605 — Histology and Cell Biology
Study of the many different aspects of the internal structure of cells, tissues and organs in the human body, presenting a comprehensive survey of many of their complex interrelationships. Lectures, clinical correlations, and laboratories sessions.
PHY 602 — Neuroscience
The Neuroscience course is offered to first-year students in graduate-level health professions programs. The general objective of the course is to give students a knowledge-base of the human central nervous system that they will use when learning how to diagnose and treat neurological disorders. The course provides students the essential principles of neurological function, from the cellular and molecular mechanisms of neural communication to the organization and function of sensory and motor systems, and higher cognitive function. Wet-laboratories, clinical correlations, and the neurological exam reinforce the knowledge of brain structure and strengthen skills to understand the human nervous system.
BCH 612/614 — Medical Biochemistry I & II
The Medical Biochemistry courses are presented to medical and graduate students in their first year.
The courses are divided in the following units: Structural and functional relationships of proteins, Energy generation and storage from carbohydrate metabolism, Energy Generation and storage from lipid metabolism, Nitrogen metabolism, Gene expression and control, and Medical Genetics. In these courses, medical aspects are emphasized to build up the necessary background for future application in other basic sciences and clinical courses. The courses are delivered in the form of recorded lectures with accompanying in class-sessions using the flipped classroom model, together with small group discussions of clinical cases. One of the main intentions of the small group discussions is for the medical students to apply the biochemical concepts learned in lectures to understand the molecular basis of a given disease. PhD students, on the other hand, will be required to attend and participate of the discussions of research papers in relevant areas of modern Biochemistry.
MIC 642 — General Microbiology
During the first year, medical students learn about the most common pathogens involved in infectious diseases and their characteristics. It includes basic concepts of Immunology, Virology, Mycology, Bacteriology and Parasitology.
MIC 643/644 — Infectious Diseases I & II
In the second year, students learn the clinical manifestations, laboratory diagnosis and therapeutic alternatives for treating infectious diseases. It is our purpose to teach the basic knowledge of infectious diseases which is a very important part of the education of medical students and future physicians.
PAT 761/762 — Pathology I & II
The Pathology Courses are taught at the second year level consisting of lectures, laboratory periods, and large group discussions. The first part introduces the student to the study of disease. Particular emphasis is given to basic and general pathologic reactions to noxious stimuli. The second part is known as Systemic Pathology. In this portion the subjects taught are coordinated with didactic presentations of the basic sciences, clinical departments and Pathophysiology. Clinical Laboratory Diagnosis is integrated with Systemic Pathology. This affords the opportunity for a close correlation in the teaching of disease entities. The didactic lectures are completed with gross and microscopic organ review, clinical laboratory exercises, and large group discussions.
PHA 781/782 — Pharmacology I & II
These are two courses, one-semester-long each, of interactive classroom sessions and small group discussions designed to provide students with a basic understanding of drug actions in order to assure appropriate clinical utilization of pharmacological agents. To facilitate study, drugs are organized into classifications according to their primary clinical usage. The study of each class of drugs includes the pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, clinical uses and toxicities. Each lecture topic is provided with learning objectives that have been developed with reference to the nationally generated learning objectives. Small group discussion sessions and a patient-oriented problem-solving presentation are utilized to enhance problem solving and independent learning skills. Each exercise includes specific learning objectives.
PHY 692/694 — Physiology I & II
These are two courses, one-semester-long each, presented to medical students in their first year. The course consists of recorded lectures, In-Class sessions using audience response systems, Self-Directed Learning, Small Group Discussions, Labs, plus examinations (including NBME subject exam in Physiology). The content is designed for medical students, but is also a required course for the students in the Master Program in Medical Sciences and the graduate students in the Biomedical Sciences. Areas to be covered will include: For Physiology I: cell and muscle, cardiovascular, respiratory, and for Physiology II: renal, acid-base balance, gastrointestinal, endocrinology, and reproduction. Clinical examples that illustrate the physiological principles are given.
MED 973 — Emergency Medicine – Fourth Year
The goal of this rotation is to learn the principles of addressing the undifferentiated emergency patient, acquiring the skills to recognize truly ill patients requiring further inpatient management from those who can be treated and discharged. The course will familiarize the student with Emergency and Admission Room procedures consisting of: history, physical examination, diagnostic measures, treatment when needed (emergency or otherwise) and disposition of case (home, hospitalization, outpatient clinics, office care). Pre-Requisite: 3rd year Clinical Clerkship, Duration: 4 weeks
FCM 719/720 — Community Medicine I & II
The courses are offered during the first year of the medical curriculum. The didactic component includes basic topics in community medicine and concepts of gerontology and geriatrics. Students are introduced to medical history taking and communication skills in preparation for the Primary Care Office Visits. The students interview a standardized patient and receive feedback from a faculty member. The students are exposed to primary care physicians in their practice sites in the community. All medical students are assigned to a primary care physician’s office with a family practitioner, internist or pediatrician (Primary Care Office Visits or PCOV) once each semester. In addition, they perform a life history of a healthy elder in the community.
FCM 721 — Family and Community Medicine I
This course is offered the first semester of the second year. It includes a series of didactic activities in Geriatrics, Health Promotion & Prevention, Professionalism and Communication Skills. In addition to the regular didactic activities and small group discussions, the students perform a needs assessment of a community and design of a community project. All medical students are assigned to a primary care physician’s office with a family practitioner, internist or pediatrician (Primary Care Office Visits or PCOV) once.
FCM 722 — Family and Community Medicine II
This course exposes the students to the disciplines of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and how they may be used as the foundation to be applied in the field of Preventive Medicine and in the understanding of scientific medical literature. Participation in scientific paper discussions is required.
FCM 822 — Third Year Family Medicine Clerkship
The Family and Community Medicine Clerkship is designed to introduce students to the role and identity of the family physician and demonstrate the family practice approach to the comprehensive care of common health problems in the ambulatory setting. Duration: Four weeks’ block rotation throughout the year.
FCM 974 — Primary Care Selective in Family Practice
The Primary Care Selective in Family Practice is a four-week required rotation in the fourth year where the student chooses the working site from a varied selection of primary care physicians in the community.
The purpose of this course is to provide students an opportunity to enhance their clinical skills in primary care and to practice the delivery of health care in the office and/or hospital. This clinical rotation allows additional opportunity for the student to work in the ambulatory and/or inpatient service under the direct supervision of a Primary Care Physician.
Faculty for the Primary Care Selective is drawn from the fields of General Internal Medicine, General Pediatrics and Family Practice. Students can select from diverse clinical practice sites in urban, suburban and rural settings. At each site, students will see patients under the supervision of one or more clinical preceptors. Each student, however, will be assigned a principal preceptor who is responsible for overseeing the student’s learning experience and coordinating the evaluation.
The student is expected to participate with a preceptor in all daily practice related activities in the ambulatory, hospital, or other community settings.
Clinical activities during the rotation may also involve assessing patients in a variety of other health care settings including private homes, schools, nursing homes, shelters, emergency rooms. Duration: Four weeks’ block rotation throughout the year
ICP 080 — Introduction to Clinical Practice (Second Year – Summer Course)
This is a required learning experience for medical students before they start the clinical rotations. The purpose is to give the medical students the basis of clinical practice, including record management, universal precautions, legal aspects of the practice of medicine and progress note writing among others. The students will learn the principles of evidence-based medicine and practice literature searching, critical appraisal of the medical literature and its clinical applications. An intensive course of electrocardiograph is offered, at the end of which the student is to have basic electrocardiograph knowledge that will help him in his clinical experiences and his future growth in this field. Learning activities are didactic presentations and workshops, hands on experiences and independent study.
MED 833 — Third Year Internal Medicine Clerkship
Each student will be assigned to a Health Care Teaching Unit which consists of an Attending Physician, a Medical Resident, Intern and 2-3 students to provide Health Care to a number of inpatients (7-10 patients/Health Care Teaching Unit). They will be directly supervised by the Resident and Attending Physician. The student’s work up will be corrected, and final copy signed by the medical resident and attending physician before it is made part of the Hospital Record. Progress notes written by the student must be counter signed by residents before being official. Students are expected to have a minimum of two new patients per week. Duration: 8 weeks’ rotation at two different sites.
MED 934 — Fourth Year Internal Medicine Clerkship
Students will be assigned to one of the Health Care Teaching Units of the affiliated hospitals where he/she will perform as an intern under the direct supervision of a medical resident and attending physician. Duration: 4 weeks
MED 974 — Primary Care Selective in Internal Medicine
Students are assigned to general internist clinical practices where they experience continuity of care of internal medicine patients. The student is exposed to health care systems (managed care), office management concepts and practice guidelines with emphasis on clinical application of disease prevention. Emphasis is placed on evidence-based medicine and its application to clinical practice. Duration: 4 Weeks
RAD 901 — Clinical Radiology
This is a four weeks’ course in which senior medical students are exposed to clinical radiology via an apprentice model, based in the office and hospital practice of radiology faculty. Students gain an understanding of the mechanism and radiographic manifestation of common pulmonary, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, genitourinary, musculoskeletal and neurologic problems. Course Duration: 4 weeks
OBG 852 — Obstetrics and Gynecology Clerkship-3rd Year
The Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology is one of the clinical departments of the Ponce Health Sciences University. It is composed of a core group of clinicians who are members of the academic staff of the medical school, in private practice and/or in the teaching staff at the Ob-Gyn residency program at the New San Lucas Hospital. Residents and Interns also participate in the teaching of students.
The principal goal of the department is to provide the students with the core knowledge and skills in Obstetrics and Gynecology that are essential to every primary care physician. Students interested in pursuing a career in Obstetrics and Gynecology is encouraged to enroll in senior electives that will facilitate their decision to apply for a residency in our specialty. Duration: Eight Week Rotation
OBG 974 — Primary Care Selective in OB-GYN
The fourth year selective in OB-GYN has been designed to provide the students with additional exposure to the clinical knowledge and skills in Obstetrics and Gynecology. Students are exposed to additional clinical material and are expected to work extensively with the department’s staff in each location.
PED 872 — Third Year Pediatric Clerkship
The purpose of this clerkship is to provide a solid core of pediatric knowledge and skills, an appreciation of the spectrum of growth and development and a logical approach to the care of children in both illness and health, which can be applied in whatever field of medicine you enter.
The care of individual patients requires the application of all these skills. The student is expected to recognize and manage common pediatric acute and chronic health problems.
Also, skills in record documentation and writing prescriptions must be developed. A student must have well developed interpersonal skills that facilitate communication and must also demonstrate attitudes, behaviors and beliefs that serve to promote the patient’s best interest. Duration: Four Weeks
PED 974 — Primary Care Selective in Pediatrics
This elective allows the student to participate in the care of pediatric patients in a setting where primary care pediatrics is practiced. Students will assume the care of pediatric patients in the ambulatory and inpatient settings of primary and secondary community hospitals, under the supervision of an academic physician.
Health promotion and disease prevention strategies are emphasized. Experiences in the care of acute and chronic pediatrics problems are provided with opportunities for continuity of care between inpatient and outpatient hospital settings. The elective also provides opportunities to perform pediatric procedures such as venipunctures, suprapubic taps and lumbar punctures. Duration: Four Weeks
PSY 610 — Human Behavior
This course is designed to teach medical students the basic principles of behavioral and social science as these relate to the physician’s professional role. It provides the medical students with the opportunity to perceive man in a holistic way, with emphasis in the different areas of behavior.
PSY 713/714 — Basic Psychiatry I & II
The student will build on the knowledge acquired in the first year course of Behavioral Sciences and amplify his/her knowledge integrating psychopathology, classification of psychiatric disorders, diagnosis, therapeutic options. The major psychiatric syndromes including neurodevelopmental, disruptive, psychotic, mood, and personality are discussed through a series of lectures and group activities. Diagnostic criteria, epidemiology, signs and symptoms, as well as treatment and prognosis are reviewed along with biological and psychosocial knowledge of each psychiatric syndrome.
PSY 813 — Clerkship Psychiatry
The student will integrate previously learned material and skills in a clinical setting and participate actively in the evaluation and treatment of patients during their 4 week rotations at the medical school’s outpatient clinics. Pre-requisites: Behavioral Science (610) and Basic Psychiatry (713). Duration: 4 Week
SUR 816 — Clinical Clerkship in Surgery
The clinical clerkship in surgery offers educational experiences combined with clinical encounters with hospitalized and ambulatory patients. Each student is assigned to a member of the teaching staff. The setting in a tertiary and/or secondary hospital will provide the student with in-patient and out-patient clinical encounters necessary to develop data gathering, technical, case presentation and clinical problem solving skills. Each student will complete history and physical examination, an assessment plan and a treatment plan in at least two (2) new patients per week.
Interpersonal skills, professional attitudes and educational attitudes will be developed and evaluated through direct observation of the student by the proctor in the hospital and ambulatory settings and in the classroom.
This clerkship is offered at Damas Hospital and Saint Luke’s Hospital in Ponce, which are tertiary type hospitals with accredited resident programs. In addition, students may occasionally rotate through other affiliated secondary hospitals such as Dr. Pila Hospital, San Cristobal Hospital and Oncologic Hospital in Ponce and Southern Medical Center in Yauco.
MED 630/631 — Clinical Correlation (Problem Based Learning)
These are two courses, one-semester each, using Problem Based Learning (PBL) as the instructional method. The facilitator gives a problem (a clinical case) to a small group of students who engage in discussion over two sessions. As the students discover the limits of their knowledge, they identify learning issues that they cannot answer from their fund of knowledge. Between meetings, the learners research their learning issues and share results with their peers and supervisors at the next meeting receiving feedback on their information-seeking skills. The students increase their knowledge and understanding of clinical problems, but develop also desirable attributes such as communication skills, teamwork, problem solving, independent responsibility for learning, sharing information, and respect for others. The facilitator provides supportive guidance for the students.
MED 734/735 — Fundamental Pathophysiology for Clinical Medicine I & II
The aim of these courses is to bridge the gap between the pre-clinical and clinical courses; between normal and abnormal physiology and derangement that constitute pathologic states. These courses are offered during the second year. The course is integrated with Pathology, Microbiology, Pharmacology and Introduction to Clinical Skills.
IHD 919 — Interprofessional Perspectives in Health Disparities
This course is designed to provide a general overview of gaps in health outcomes associated with health disparities. A special emphasis will be given to the social determinants of health such as race/ethnicity, social class, socioeconomic status, sex, sexuality, nationality and migration status. The course will focus on the impact of health disparities’ impact at multiple system’s levels (e.g. Individual, patient-clinician, healthcare system, etc.).
MED 732 — Introduction to Clinical Skills I/MED733 Introduction to Clinical Skills II
Introduction to Clinical Skills (ICS) is an interdisciplinary course composed of two closely related and interdependent courses ICS I and ICS II. ICS is designed to introduce the student to the art of medicine and to facilitate the development of those basic clinical skills that are needed by all physicians to be effective in medical practice. In these courses, all sciences essential to the practice of medicine are integrated with practical experiences, including real and simulated patient encounters. ICS I Course (first semester) is specifically designed to teach medical history taking, patient doctor communication and interpersonal skills, physical examination skills and clinical reasoning. ICS II Course (second semester) provides real and standardized patient care activities in which the student uses the skills acquired in ICS I in different clinical scenarios.
MED 635/734 — Medical Ethics I & II
These courses are scheduled as a block of 18 contact hours during the last week of the first academic year and another block of 7 hours at the beginning of the second academic year, for a total 25 contact hours. The goal is to provide didactic experiences for medical students in specific areas within the field of medical ethics. The need for these experiences stems from the recognition that ethical dilemmas are inherent in medical care. The students will develop an understanding of the principles of medical ethics and a system of ethical reasoning that will result in consistent decisions. The didactic activities will include presentations of clinical cases which have been selected to represent ethical dilemmas similar to those that are likely encountered in real life. Activities include a combination of lectures, assigned readings and small group case discussions covering different subjects within the four main areas of medical ethics, namely: ethical issues of scientific research, ethical issues of the doctor-patient relationship, beginning-of-life and end-of-life ethical issues.
PDV 918/919 — Professional Development
These courses are designed to enhance the educational experiences of medical students during the first clinical year. It reinforces professionalism, cultural competence and civic development. It helps the student to develop the skills necessary to compete successfully for positions in medical residency programs, participate in research projects, and be exposed to the health system requirements for the eventual development of a successful medical practice.
SKD 090 — Skills Development
Ponce Health Sciences University (PHSU) requires that all medicine students take and pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination Step 1 (USMLE Step 1) to be promoted to the second semester of the first clinical year. In order to help the students to meet this requirement, PHSU has established the Skills Development Course (SKD). The SKD provides the students a four-week protected time period, at the end of the second semester of the second year of medical studies, for independent study in preparation to take and pass the USMLE Step 1.
SKD 091 — Basic Science Review Course
Basic Sciences Review Course I (SKD 091) is designed to help medical students who did not take or pass the USMLE Step 1. As in Skills Development course (SKD 090), the main objective is to provide students a protected time to participate in an independent and a comprehensive review of the basic science subjects. The course provides a semester for independent study in preparation to re-take and pass the USMLE Step 1. A study plan must be submitted and student progress in the completion of the plan is monitored.
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