Guiding Principles: Philosophy

Philosophy of the OHSU School of Medicine

Undergraduate Medical Education Curriculum


The purpose of the undergraduate medical curriculum is to foster transformation of the learner into a physician. In addition to transferring information and skills, medical education should prepare the student for lifelong learning and scholarship; synthesis of information, critical reasoning and problem solving; self-assessment and reflection; and collaborative clinical practice. The OHSU School of Medicine curriculum explicitly integrates the scientific basis of medicine with relevant clinical experiences within and across each year of learning. It offers students progressive patient care responsibilities, fosters independent learning, and allows individualization of educational experiences. Students learn in an integrated system model, in which scientific principles of normal and abnormal human structure and function are woven throughout, and other important themes are incorporated as threads.

Guiding Principles of the OHSU MD Curriculum

The curriculum is guided by the following tenets:

  • Integration of foundational and clinical sciences throughout the curriculum promotes comprehension and retention.
  • Learner-centered teaching modalities are selected according to the desired educational outcomes and may include: didactic presentations, team-based learning, problem-based learning, case discussions, simulation, online modules, service learning and clinical experiences.
  • Competency-based assessment evaluates student mastery of knowledge, skills and attitudes.
  • Training is aligned with the institutional missions addressing health care needs of the state and region.
  • The curriculum embraces the principles of diversity and inclusion, scientific discovery and innovation.
  • All physicians need a foundational core of knowledge, skills and attitudes, which the curriculum provides while maintaining the flexibility to allow the development of expertise in specific areas of concentration.
  • Clinical experiences beginning in the first year and continuing throughout the medical curriculum reinforce integration and application of new knowledge, enhance clinical and communication skills, and foster development of professional identity.
  • Clinical experiences in rural, medically underserved, and other community settings provide perspective as well as exposure to the key role of social determinants of individual patient and population health.
  • Carefully designed shared learning experiences foster the knowledge, skills and attitudes needed for practicing as part of an interprofessional care team that operates within a larger system of care.
  • The curriculum effectively prepares the M.D. graduate for transition to the next phase of training as a resident.

Student, Faculty and Administrative Expectations

  • Students are expected to engage fully in all aspects of the medical education program, and to contribute to the learning of their classmates.
  • The faculty are responsible for defining the specific content and learning modalities of each course and clerkship. Faculty are expected to participate in and support the education mission of the School of Medicine. In recognition of the importance of this mission, achievement as an educator will be an important component for faculty academic advancement.
  • The Associate Dean for Undergraduate Medical Education, under the supervision of the Senior Associate Dean for Education, is responsible for maintaining the quality and effectiveness of the curriculum and all other aspects of the undergraduate medical education program. The Curriculum Committee and subcommittees assist with this work, and facilitate input of the faculty into the curriculum structure and function.


  • An optional self-assessment and learning opportunity is offered prior to matriculation to help prepare students for success in the undergraduate medical curriculum.
  • A required introductory block familiarizes the student with general concepts of the foundational sciences, and promotes the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary for the professional development of the physician.
  • The foundational science curriculum is organized into integrated, multidisciplinary units, relating normal and abnormal structure, function and behavior with the epidemiology, pathophysiology, prevention and treatment of disease, together with emerging disciplines such as informatics and quality improvement science.
  • Required clinical clerkships follow the foundational science curriculum to provide a broad experience in clinical medicine.
  • Electives, selectives, and mentored scholarly activity leading to a capstone project are provided to enhance the educational value of the curriculum, allow increased breadth and depth in specific areas, and permit individualization of each student's educational experiences.
  • Intersession courses are provided to facilitate the progression from undergraduate to professional school, from the foundational curriculum to the core clinical experiences, and from medical student to resident physician. They are also used to reinforce foundational sciences.

Evaluation of Performance

  • The evaluation of student performance includes the following core competencies: medical knowledge, patient care and procedural skills, professionalism, interpersonal and communication skills, practice-based learning and improvement, and systems-based practice.
  • The evaluation of student performance applies both traditional approaches and performance-based assessment of the acquisition of clinical skills, knowledge and attitudes.
  • Evaluation of student performance is timely, includes formative and summative feedback, and is provided by faculty who are familiar with the performance of the student.

Evaluation of Curriculum

  • The content, teaching methodologies and assessment tools used in the foundational and clinical sciences curricula are continuously scrutinized for appropriate depth, breadth, integration and relevance.
  • The curriculum is evaluated by how well our students perform, both at OHSU and following graduation. This evaluation includes what students do, in terms of specialty and career choices and practice location, and what impact they have, as measured by quality of clinical care, research productivity, leadership positions, awards and other recognition. This information is continuously reviewed and changes incorporated to meet the educational mission of the School of Medicine.
  • The Curriculum Committee is responsible for implementation, coordination, evaluation and continuous improvement of the UME curriculum.

Approved by OHSU UME Curriculum Committee March 14, 2013

Approved by SOM Faculty Council May 2, 2013