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Monday, May 12th 2008

The Perfect Medical School: Basic Science

Every Medical Student Needs To Know All Of This

In a perfect medical school the basic science education would be cut down. What I mean is that the focus on minute ‘physiologic’ biological processes would be limited. The basic sciences, especially in the first year, have become too complex and unnecessary. Too often what students are introduced to is influenced by the research of the faculty of the school. At the perfect medical school such would be limited with strict curriculum oversight. Further cutting of the basic science years would be limited by the National Board of Medical Examiners and their continued insistence that memorizing a host of biochemical pathways is somehow imperative for a single test day, somehow is imperative to becoming a physician. If that obstacle was removed the perfect medical school would significantly cut down on the traditional ‘first year’ material.

Early Clinical Exposure
The perfect medical school would also compress the basic science years. Already there are schools which do the first “two years” in eighteen months. An applause to such schools. The perfect medical school would do the same. The key is to get the medical student out of the classroom as soon as possible.

As I’ll discuss in the clinical sciences post, clinical exposure would be early in the first year and often. The 18 months at the beginning of the perfect medical school could hardly be called ‘basic science,’ despite the title of this post.

Integrated Curriculum
The perfect medical school would have a truly integrated curriculum. There would be no distinction between ‘first’ and ‘second’ year. You would progress through the 18 months of basic science in modules focusing on various topics (i.e. cellular metabolism, cardiovascular system, GI system, etc.) in which you would cover the physiology, anatomy, pathology, related pharmacology, etc. The basics, which are hard to integrate, would be covered in the first two months in the classroom and then it would be off.

Despite the abandonment of the anatomy lab by some schools, gross anatomy and human dissection would remain a strong component of the perfect medical school.

The perfect medical school would be the most integrated school in the country, technology wise. The obvious things, done in most schools nowadays, would include virtual microscopy (no student should ever have to fix a path or histo slide), online lectures, online grades, online syllabi, computerized test taking.


  • Remove frivolous basic science minutia
  • Condense the basic science education to 18 months of less
  • Early clinical exposure
  • Strongly integrated curriculum with no distinction between ‘first’ and ‘second’ year
  • Gross anatomy lab
  • Integrated use of technology in teaching

[Return To The Perfect Medical School]