Introduction

Foundations of Medicine is one of three integrated courses that provide medical students with a comprehensive overview of evidence-based medicine. This course is taken during the first two years.

Course Overview

During the first two years of the MD program, the curriculum is organized around three integrated courses that provide students with a comprehensive view of evidence-based medicine:

  • Foundations of Medicine (18 hours/week)
  • Scholarly Reflection and Concentration/Capstone course (4 hours/week)
  • Clinical Arts and Sciences (6 hours/week)  

Foundations of Medicine I (FOM I) is taken by students in the first year of the MD program. FOM I provides an overview of biological function and organ systems over 37 weeks. Foundations of Medicine II (FOM II) is taken in the second year for 30 weeks and focuses on the pathophysiology of disease. The course meets for 18 hours a week, between 8 a.m. and noon.

Course Curriculum

Course curriculum

Foundations of Medicine is divided into foundational and organ system blocks with horizontal and vertical integration across the blocks and with the other courses. The School of Medicine’s longitudinal themes (pharmacology, nutrition, behavioral and social sciences, ethics and epidemiology) are also integrated throughout the curriculum as they relate to specific organs and diseases throughout each block.

The course is taught through a variety of teaching methods including lectures and small group events that employ case-based learning activities. Dissection-based anatomy runs throughout most of the first year, integrating across all of the organ system blocks. Self-directed learning is emphasized in the second year as students participate in five hours of problem-based learning each week.

Year 1: Foundations of Medicine I Goals

The primary goal of FOM I is for medical students to achieve foundational knowledge in the basic sciences, with an emphasis on gaining a detailed understanding of common and representative medical illnesses. By the end of year one, students are knowledgeable in human biology and the impact that psychological, social, cultural and economic forces have on human health. They are able to discuss the epidemiology and prevention of major medical conditions. Knowledge gained in FOM I will be revisited and expanded the following year in FOM II.

2017-2018 Block Schedule


  • Foundations of Science I (6 weeks)
  • Foundations of Science II (6 weeks)
  • Musculoskeletal and Integument (5 weeks)
  • Neuroscience and Head and Neck Anatomy (7 weeks)
  • Heart - Lung - Kidney (7 weeks)
  • Gastrointestinal - Endocrine - Genitourinary - Reproductive (6 weeks)

Year 2: Foundations of Medicine II Goals

Building on foundational knowledge obtained in FOM I, the primary goal of FOM II is for medical students to achieve essential knowledge and skills related to the pathophysiology and epidemiology of diseases. In addition, students develop a broad understanding of treatment paradigms for common medical disorders. By the conclusion of year two, students have a broad understanding of the full spectrum of human illnesses and therapy.

2017-2018 Block Schedule


  • Fundamentals: Pathology, Immunology, Microbiology, Cancer and Hematology (7 weeks)
  • Neurology and Psychiatry (5 weeks)
  • Gastrointestinal - Endocrine (5 weeks)
  • Heart - Lung - Kidney (6 weeks)
  • Breast – Genitourinary – Reproductive (4 weeks)
  • Musculoskeletal and Integument (3 weeks)

Course Leadership