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MD Program Foundations and Frontiers

Foundations and Frontiers is designed to create physicians for the 21st century and to meet the demands of the nation's changing health care system. The curriculum instills all of the enduring qualities essential to clinical excellence while also including essential emerging competencies such as an understanding of population health, health informatics, quality and patient safety, and health care systems and financing.

Foundations and Frontiers emphasizes teamwork and communication, clinical problem solving, use of information technology and other skills and behaviors needed by today's as well as tomorrow's physicians to succeed.

Download the Foundations & Frontiers FAQ info sheet [PDF]

Learn about a typical week as a Drexel Med student.

Foundations and Frontiers Highlights

Foundations and Frontiers was created with input from current medical students, faculty, alumni and national medical education experts. The program builds on the College of Medicine's legacy in medical education and embraces Drexel University's reputation for innovation and collaboration.

The new curriculum is supported technologically by Drexel-developed iPad applications and a state-of-the-art simulation center and clinical education center where medical students can apply what they have learned in the classroom with hands-on training.

Other hallmarks of our distinctive Frontiers and Foundations curriculum include:

  • Early and frequent clinical exposure
  • Integrated basic science and clinical education
  • Team learning
  • Technology-enhanced education
  • Cultural competence
  • Community and civic engagement
  • An award winning, nationally-recognized Professional Formation Program
  • Enhanced opportunities for research and scholarly projects in basic science as well as other areas such as: Woman's Health, Population Health, Healthcare Economics, and Humanities

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Drexel Medical Student Experience (Three-Phase Curriculum)

Foundations and Frontiers is a four-year curriculum that has been divided into three phases. Phase One (years 1 and 2) lays the groundwork for basic and clinical science. Phase Two (year 3) allows medical students to apply their patient care knowledge and skills to a variety of clinical settings. Phase Three (year 4) focuses on advanced clinical skills and preparation for residency.

Phase 1: Foundations

The 18-month "Foundations" phase includes basic and clinical science courses that integrate multiple disciplines. Medical students also spend time in non-traditional classroom settings working in teams to apply knowledge to clinical problems. This phase of the curriculum also includes multiple experiences in our state-of-the-art simulation center working with high-fidelity mannequins and standardized patients. The basic science content begins with an introduction to cells and tissues and then proceeds into organ-based blocks with a focus on normal processes. During the second year, medical students revisit the major organ systems with a focus on abnormal processes.

Lectures, conferences, laboratory, simulation and other team learning formats develop and extend the principles introduced in the case throughout the week.

A longitudinal practicum experience extends through the Foundations phase, and exposes medical students to patients in varied community settings. This course provides experiences in chronic care, service learning and inter-professional education and is combined with a social justice and health disparities curriculum.

During four 1-week blocks, medical students will be immersed in the "Frontiers" portion of the curriculum. This includes cutting-edge areas such as healthcare informatics, population health, quality and patient safety, healthcare economics, and principles of translational research.

View Phase One Course Descriptions

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Phase 2: Applications

The one-year long "Applications" phase allows medical students to practice their patient care knowledge and skills in a variety of clinical settings. This year starts with participation in a two-week structured session, "Intersession I: Transition to the Clinical Years," which focuses on skills needed for medical students to function effectively on the wards.

During the third year, medical students rotate through clerkships in surgery, internal medicine, family medicine, pediatrics, psychiatry, neurology, ambulatory medicine and obstetrics and gynecology. To enhance the diversity of their clinical experience, medical students work with faculty members at multiple sites in metropolitan centers, working-class neighborhoods, suburbs, inner city areas and rural communities.

All third-year clerkships take place on Drexel's academic campuses. Assignments for third year are based on the results of a lottery system, although medical students can elect year-long assignments at our regional campuses:

  • Allegheny Health Network
  • Crozer-Chester Medical Center
  • Kaiser Permanente - Easy Bay Area
  • Tower Health - Reading Hospital
  • UPMC Pinnacle Hospital
  • Wellspan York Hospital

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Phase 3: Transitions

The "Transitions" phase focuses on advanced clinical skills and preparation for residency. The fourth year curriculum is structured within "Pathways" — an advising system that gives medical students a well-rounded educational experience and also prepares them for potential careers. Medical students may choose a discipline-specific Pathway or one that provides more broad-based experiences. All medical students have a Pathway-specific faculty adviser who works with the student to balance the structure and flexibility of their learning needs, helps prepare the student to enter postgraduate training with confidence and works to maximize the guidance and counseling available from preceptors.

The Pathway advisers help medical students focus their preparation for graduate medical education and careers. The Pathway program also gives medical students experience in fields of interest other than the one that is likely to be their career path. Medical students take both required courses and electives in the Pathway system. Three courses are required:

  • Emergency medicine
  • Sub-internship in a core discipline
  • Transition to clinician

Fourth-year medical students have opportunities to complete a variety of clinical elective rotations at hospitals and sites that are not Drexel clinical affiliates, including international rotations. In addition, during the fourth year, medical students may choose to leverage the expertise of one of Drexel's other colleges by studying for a graduate certificate in one of the Frontiers content areas. Alternatively, medical students may choose to conduct a scholarly project under the direction of a faculty member.

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Curriculum At A Glance

Curriculum schedule is subject to modification as need arises.

Drexel Med School Curriculum - Foundations and Frontiers Phase 1
 View larger image of Foundations and Frountiers Curriculum Year 1 & 2 [PDF]

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The Societies

Incoming medical students are placed into one of six learning communities, or "societies," each taking its name from a famous Philadelphia landmark: Athenaeum; Liberty Bell; Physick House; Rocky Statue; Reading Terminal; and Eakins House.

Each society is led by a faculty director and student representatives, all of whom are responsible for coordinating and planning society activities. In addition, society-associated faculty serve as advisers to small groups of medical students in the first two years of the educational program.

The society provides the framework for relationships among medical students and faculty. The society also provides a social structure for each student, giving a small-school feel while maintaining all of the advantages and amenities of a large institution.

The program helps promote a greater sense of community and connectedness among the medical students and faculty. The society serves as the core unit for a variety of valuable activities including:

  • Small group learning
  • A faculty advising/peer mentoring program
  • Community service projects
  • Activities to promote student wellness
  • Social activities
  • Society-based competitions culminating in the coveted "Dean's Cup"

The Foundations and Frontiers curriculum information presented is subject to revision.

Contact Information

Drexel University College of Medicine
Office of Admissions
60 N. 36th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104

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