Curriculum Overview

The University of Kentucky College of Medicine Doctorate of Medicine program is a single program delivered at multiple campuses. The MD program courses will have the same objectives and same assessments across sites with the opportunity for varied teaching methods.

Design, management, and evaluation of the Kentucky Integrated Curriculum is conducted by the UK College of Medicine Curriculum Committee (per Liaison Committee for Medical Education standards). The UK College of Medicine has adopted a pass/fail grading system for all courses offered in the MD program beginning August 2018. 

The Kentucky Integrated Curriculum is divided into three phases: a core principles phase, application phase, and advanced development phase.

Core Principles Phase (Years 1 and 2)

In the core principles phase, all students are enrolled in the same course sequence. Students may enroll in elective experiences after the first semester of the M1 year. Elective coursework or clinical experiences take place in the free afternoon times, not during scheduled class time for required courses.

Preclinical courses are designed to prepare students for third year clinical rotations, the USMLE Step 1 examination and, most importantly, a practice of lifelong learning as a physician. From the beginning, foundational science is integrated with clinical application. Clinical Anatomy and Radiology integrates anatomic knowledge from cadaver-based prosection labs, imaging modalities, and physical examination with standardized patients. Next, the Foundations of Infection, Disease, and Therapeutics course provides a solid foundation of the basic science underlying normal function, disease processes, and therapeutic principles. Students then proceed through the systems courses, which integrate and apply the foundational science to body systems. M2 students’ course Multisystems and Integrative Concepts reinforces clinical science applied across different systems.

Clinical skill development begins right away. Physical exam practice starts in the Clinical Anatomy and Radiology course and continues through other M1 courses. Patient interview practice starts in an Introduction to Clinical Medicine. Teaching is through weekly small group meetings mentored by teams of physicians and behavioral science faculty. Through practice sessions with standardized patients, students gain skills and confidence for interviewing actual patients. The course also emphasizes social, economic and interpersonal aspects of health. Introduction to Clinical Medicine continues through most of the M1 year. Students then gain a foundation in epidemiology, public health, statistics and evidence-based medicine in the Contemporary Practice of Medicine course. After summer break, M2 students return and hone their history, physical examination, and clinical reasoning skills in the Advanced Clinical Medicine course.

Learning occurs through multiple venues. Interactive large-group sessions stream simultaneously to the Lexington, Bowling Green and Northern Kentucky campuses. Most large-group sessions are recorded for later review. Small group are the predominant learning venue for some courses. Independent learning occurs through multiple venues including videos, reading and interactive on-line modules.

Application Phase (Year 3)

The third year of the UK College of Medicine curriculum allows the student to apply their core knowledge and skills to a variety of different medical disciplines. This also allows the student to gain exposure to multiple specialties and associated subspecialties through different clerkship rotations. Clinical experiences occur in a variety of settings, including inpatient hospital facilities, operating rooms, and ambulatory clinics, under the direction of clinical faculty and residents. Through these experiences, students have the opportunity to participate in team rounds, interdisciplinary meetings, and patient care discussions. Throughout, students are active participants in providing patient care and practicing their clinical skills by assessing patients, discussing plans with patients and colleagues, and directly participating in the delivery of medical care.

Students complete nine required clinical clerkships, one at a time, during the course of the academic year. Each clerkship varies in length and credit hours:

MD 830 | PEDIATRICS CLERKSHIP (7 weeks/credit hours)
MD 831 | EMERGENCY MEDICINE CLERKSHIP (2 weeks/credit hours)
MD 832 | NEUROLOGY CLERKSHIP (4 weeks/credit hours)
MD 833 | PSYCHIATRY CLERKSHIP (4 weeks/credit hours)
MD 834 | FAMILY MEDICINE CLERKSHIP (4 weeks/credit hours)
MD 835 | INTERNAL MEDICINE CLERKSHIP (8 weeks/credit hours)
MD 837 | SURGERY CLERKSHIP (7 weeks/credit hours)
MD 838 | OBSTETRICS & GYNECOLOGY CLERKSHIP (4 weeks/credit hours)
MD 839 | ENTRUSTMENT IN CLINICAL MEDICINE (5 weeks/credit hours)

The third-year curriculum also includes a novel, longitudinal course which integrates content and skills across the different clerkship disciplines. This course utilizes large and small group settings, simulation, and standardized patients to help students hone their developing skills. It also includes a longitudinal, small group facilitated by a clinical faculty member who will track student progress and provide assistance in their development.

Advanced Development Phase (Year 4)

The fourth year of the UK College of Medicine curriculum is designed to allow students to tailor their education to their career plans. Recognizing that students will have very different needs depending upon their residency selection, the fourth-year curriculum allows students the flexibility to select those courses which are most relevant to their future career. Throughout all of these courses, the emphasis is toward mastering the clinical skills that students will be performing at the start of their intern year. All courses are four weeks in length (4 credit hours). Students must complete eight courses, including Transition to Residency.

These courses place students in the role of an intern to directly prepare them for the responsibilities and skills inherent in this role. In this intern role, students perform patient care tasks such as providing initial assessments, placing orders, coordinating care, providing official documentation, and managing care transitions. Students must complete a minimum of two, four-week Acting Internships. Students can select the specialty area for these experiences from a diverse list of choices based on what best meets their future career needs. Acting Internships are available in a variety of departments: emergency medicine, family medicine, internal medicine, neurology, neurosurgery, obstetrics and gynecology, otolaryngology, pediatrics, psychiatry, rehabilitation medicine, surgery, and urology.

In addition to the required courses, students select five elective courses. These electives provide opportunities for students to explore special interests and build skills which will be most relevant for their planned career. Elective offerings include both patient-care and non-patient care rotations, as well as research.

This capstone course is designed to ensure graduating medical students possess the critical knowledge and skills required for the supervised practice of medicine. This course relies on workshops, simulation, and standardized patients to allow for realistic practice and assessment of these important skills. Within the course, students have the ability to tailor the content to meet the needs of their future specialty.

Students have planned time off in the fourth year to facilitate residency interviews, vacation, and/or preparation for a USMLE exam. Student calendars includes three scheduled “flex months” that have no educational requirements.

For information and details about the Advanced Development Directors, visit our page here.


Curricular Threads

Curricular threads represent the integration of critical content throughout the entirety of the undergraduate medical school curriculum for topics that are not the primary focus of a particular course or clerkship but are fundamental to the practice of medicine. 

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Assessment System

At the UK College of Medicine, our ultimate goal for assessment is to help students move out of the comfort zone to optimize learning.

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The UK College of Medicine has a competency-based education framework that explicitly defines our curricular objectives, guides our teaching methods, and forms the basis for student assessment.

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Scholarly Concentration Program

This academic elective program is for students who choose to enhance their education in an area of interest beyond the required medical school core curriculum. 

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