The first year curriculum focuses on a fundamental understanding of how the various basic science disciplines relate to the normal human body. Each of the modules provides vertical integration of various disciplines and horizontal integration of clinical sciences through the use of clinical cases, vignettes, and clinical skills experiences to motivate and reinforce learning. It’s also in the first year that the students are introduced to the psychosocial factors in illness and its treatment in the Psychosocial Issues in Healthcare module as well as a research experience through the Focused Inquiry and Research Experience:


Cellular Function and Medical Genetics

The objective of this module is to provide a better understanding of the biology and biological processes of healthy humans, and pathological states, from the molecular to the cellular level. The 8 week module integrates the disciplines of biochemistry, molecular biology, genetics, nutrition, pharmacology and cell biology. In this manner, students study the biomolecular structure of cellular components, learn about their role in molecular biology and genetics, and observe their functions inside the whole cell or within the cellular domain. As more molecules and cellular components are introduced, the relationship between molecular structure and its influence on a compound’s ability to interact with other biomolecules is examined. Weekly topics include interdisciplinary discussions of nucleic acids, proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, steroids, hormones, nutrients and metabolism and cell biology. Positioned at the beginning of the curriculum, this module provides the basic science foundations necessary for student success in the later modules.

Learning objectives:

  • Identify functional groups unique to proteins, nucleic acids, lipids, and carbohydrates, and apply the underlying principles as to how these biomolecules bind and communicate or signal with one another in health and disease.
  • Interpret the role of metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, and nucleic acids in normal physiological function and the changes that occur in disease processes.
  • Explain the interrelationship of the biochemical principles which underlie pharmacodynamics (what the drug does to the body) and pharmacokinetics (what the body does to the drug).
  • Demonstrate comprehension of DNA structure, transcription and translation. Explain how gene expression, replication, and repair processes are involved in human health and disease.
  • Demonstrate comprehension of the cell cycle, including mitosis and meiosis and how they contribute to disease processes.
  • Illustrate the molecular basis of human genome instability, DNA damage and repair: spontaneous mutations, mutations induced by physical and chemical environmental agents.
  • Identify the different modes of trait/disease inheritance and apply such knowledge to pedigree documentation and interpretation.
  • Apply cytogenetics and molecular cytogenetics to diagnose chromosomal aberrations and disease.
  • Articulate the principles of population genetics and factors that maintain or modify allele and genotype frequencies in populations. Explain the application of such principles to diagnosis of inherited diseases.
  • Explain the genetic basis of cancer and cancer susceptibility.
  • Identify the bioethical and legal issues related to the diagnosis and management of genetic diseases.
  • Identify different cell classes and recognize how their terminal differentiation is specialized to their function. Explain how internal and external influences might contribute to achieving this specialization.
  • Describe the basic ultrastructure of a eukaryotic cell and how it differs from that of a prokaryote. Be able to identify cellular organelles and describe their function.
  • Identify and describe membrane constituents and how they regulate membrane structure and function.
  • Utilize different resources (e.g., medical databases, literature, online information) to obtain and synthesize information essential to the process of evidence-based practice of medicine.
  • Demonstrate professional behaviors towards students, faculty and other members of the medical education team including punctuality, reliability, preparation and participation in all required learning encounters.


Structure and Function

This module is a multidisciplinary approach to fully integrate the disciplines of anatomy, physiology, histology, embryology, and neuroscience. The module is designed to provide a basic understanding of the normal human body and development, with emphasis on the dynamic relationships between structure and function. Students can apply their understanding of three-dimensional anatomy knowledge to interpreting normal medical imaging. The module runs in parallel, and is integrated with the Practice of Medicine 1 module, so that students have the opportunity to apply their understanding of the normal body immediately to the interpretation of medical testing, diagnosis, treatment, and identification of abnormal findings and disease processes.

This 16-week module utilizes multiple learning modalities including case-based small group experiences, team-based learning, lectures, laboratories (cadaver dissection, medical imaging, and histology). Small group case-based settings are designed to understanding and applying the basic science concepts discussed in large group-experience and to enhance clinical problem-solving skills.

Learning objectives:

  • Identify and describe the essential features of normal anatomy at the cellular, tissue, organ, and system levels.
  • Assess the normal position and integrity of organs and systems using physical examination and medical imaging of the cadaver and the living patient.
  • Relate knowledge of common structural and functional differences in the body as a result of common disease processes and changes occurring during the human life cycle.
  • Describe the basic embryological development of organs and organ systems to explain and determine the underlying defects in common congenital malformations.
  • Identify at the cellular level the four tissue types found in the body, and explain how the cells are organized and interact to support organ and body functions.
  • Describe the integration of various tissues into organs of the body, and relate these structures to the unique physiological functions of the organs and clinical conditions.
  • Describe and relate how different organs are integrated to provide fundamental physiological functions as a system to maintain homeostasis.
  • Describe the general organization and function of the somatic and autonomic nervous systems and relate them to clinical conditions.
  • Identify common normal anatomy in medical imaging (i.e. radiographs, MRI, CT and ultrasound), and determine the differences resulting from injury, pathology and surgical procedures.
  • Recognize one’s limits of anatomical and physiological knowledge and identify when additional resources are needed to evaluate clinical problems.
  • Demonstrate team knowledge, skills and professional attitudes through interactions in the laboratory, small-group and team-based sessions.
  • Evaluate personal and team members’ performances during laboratory, small-group and team-based experiences.
  • Integrate and relate the basic science concepts presented in this module to clinical conditions.
  • Demonstrate professional behaviors towards students, faculty and other members of the medical education team including punctuality, reliability, preparation and participation in all required learning encounters.


Health and Disease

Health and disease is a ten-week module of the integrated first-year basic science curriculum. It provides students with a thorough grounding in four major subject areas: immunology, microbiology, pharmacology, and epidemiology. The most significant bacterial, viral, fungal, and parasitic infectious diseases are covered in detail, with emphasis on epidemiology, typical clinical presentation, biological characteristics and pathogenic mechanisms of causative agents, immune responses to infection, and treatment with antimicrobial pharmaceuticals. Students are also introduced to the main classes of antimicrobial drugs and their modes of action at the cellular and molecular levels. Infectious diseases are organized primarily by organ system in order to present information as it would be encountered in clinical practice. A combination of didactic lectures, large-group case-based discussion sessions, small-group case-based discussion sessions, self-learning modules (SLMs), and supplemental materials is used to deliver the content and to facilitate varying learning styles. Formative feedback is provided throughout the module in the form of weekly quizzes and a “mock mid-term exam.

Learning objectives:

  • Describe the cellular and molecular mechanisms that enable the immune system to recognize and produce specific effector responses against a diverse repertoire of pathogens.
  • Compare and contrast the cellular and molecular mechanisms of innate immunity and adaptive immunity in the generation of effective host resistance to microbial infection.
  • Explain the principles by which the immune system maintains cellular homeostasis and tolerance to self and how dysregulation of these normal immune processes contributes to disease.
  • Describe the various circumstances in which interventions in the normal immune response can prevent or treat different disease states, including infectious diseases.
  • Explain the origins of innate or acquired immunodeficiencies and describe the diseases that result from them.
  • Demonstrate familiarity with the major types of pathogenic microorganisms, their epidemiological characteristics, such as mechanisms of transmission and frequency of occurrence, and the diseases that they cause in humans.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of clinical manifestations in the history, physical examination, and diagnostic findings (laboratory and imaging) of a patient that point to infection.
  • Explain the various mechanisms by which different categories of microorganisms cause disease in the human body.
  • Formulate differential and specific diagnoses of infectious diseases in the various organ systems by evaluation of a patient’s history, clinical presentation, and laboratory test findings.
  • Recognize the effect of underlying states of health or disease (especially immune status) on the types of infections seen throughout the life cycle, including those seen in perinatal, pediatric, and geriatric patients.
  • Discuss the challenge of microorganisms to public health, including issues such as nosocomial infections, resistance to antimicrobial drugs, potential agents of bioterrorism, and emerging or reemerging infectious diseases.
  • Choose appropriate strategies for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of infectious diseases, based on the basic biological traits, life cycles, epidemiology, and pathogenic mechanisms of their causative agents.
  • Choose appropriate antimicrobial treatments for infectious diseases based on patient factors, characteristics of the infectious agents, pharmacokinetics, and pharmacodynamics.
  • Describe the mechanisms of action of the major classes of antimicrobial therapeutics and recognize the significance of microbial drug resistance with respect to the selection of effective therapies.
  • Describe the fundamental cellular and tissue responses to cellular stress, injury, and death; contrast various types of inflammation; and discuss the processes by which resultant injury is repaired.
  • Explain the design, applications, and potential findings of descriptive, observational analytical, and interventional analytical epidemiological studies.
  • Demonstrate professional behaviors towards students, faculty and other members of the medical education team including punctuality, reliability, preparation and participation in all required learning encounters.


Psychosocial Issues in Healthcare

Psychosocial Issues in Health care is an 11-week module delivered at the end of the M-1 year. The goal of this module is to provide students with an understanding of the role of psychosocial factors in illness and its treatment. Students are exposed to a range of issues that affect how they diagnose, treat, and interact with patients and their families. Students also learn about wellness and preventative medicine, along with strategies for assessing and improving adherence with treatment recommendations. A focus of this module is on development and refinement of communication skills, particularly when interacting with patients whose values, beliefs, and experiences differ from those of the student. Other topics include human development, death and dying, the role of stress in illness, professional boundaries, sexuality, domestic violence and child/elder abuse, and alcohol misuse. This module will be taught through team-based learning, which provides students with the opportunity to apply their knowledge in challenging clinical cases, facilitating their mastery of the material, improving their communication skills, and enhancing their ability to function as a member of the health care team.

Learning objectives:

  • Describe normal human development across the lifespan, and recognize deviations requiring further evaluation and intervention.
  • Differentiate child discipline/parenting strategies, integrating concepts of learning theory, temperament, and attachment.
  • Discuss stages of grief across the lifespan and across cultures, and recognize deviations requiring further evaluation and intervention.
  • Discuss challenges surrounding and strategies for giving bad news to patients and their families.
  • Apply knowledge of coping skills, defense mechanisms, and personality traits and disorders to issues of health, illness, and the physician-patient interaction.
  • Differentiate transference and countertransference, and describe the role of each in the physician-patient relationship.
  • Describe the ethical and professional boundaries of the physician-patient relationship, and recognize deviations requiring intervention.
  • Describe signs and symptoms of, methods of evaluating, and brief interventions for alcohol abuse and dependence.
  • Identify behaviors associated with impaired physicians, describe appropriate strategies for intervention and referral, and discuss challenges related to interacting with impaired colleagues.
  • Recognize signs and symptoms of and discuss appropriate interventions for abuse (child, elder, partner) and neglect (child, elder).
  • Describe normal human sexual functioning and behavior, recognize deviations requiring further evaluation and intervention, and discuss strategies for effective communication with patients about sexuality.
  • Recognize issues that arise when interacting with patients who are different from oneself and describe approaches used to address these differences.
  • Discuss the role of factors such as gender, age, race/ethnicity, religion, culture, sexual orientation and socioeconomic status in health and illness, including relevant healthcare disparities.
  • Describe approaches to health behavior change, and discuss strategies for encouraging patients to make relevant health behavior changes.
  • Discuss challenges related to and strategies for improving treatment adherence, including provision of effective patient education.
  • Demonstrate professional behaviors towards students, faculty and other members of the medical education team including punctuality, reliability, preparation and participation in all required learning encounters.


Practice of Medicine 1

The Practice of Medicine and Community of Practice comprise a year-long instructional module which prepares students for the clinical aspects of medicine. Specific areas of instruction include interpersonal communication skills, physical examination and medical documentation skills. These skills are mastered with an emphasis on patient-focused, compassionate and professional behavior and are taught in the larger context of multicultural medicine, medical ethics, gender specific medicine and other related socioeconomic aspects. Some of the longitudinal curricular themes are presented. Students develop and enhance their skills utilizing multiple modalities including small group interaction, simulations, and standardized patients. The Community of Practice is a longitudinal experience within the Practice of Medicine which provides a structured interaction with the Central Florida medical community with an emphasis on clinical as well as business aspects of medicine. The module will run in parallel with M-1 modules and reflect clinical concepts introduced in these integrated modules.

Learning objectives:

  • Demonstrate the ability to build rapport and employ active listening to communicate empathically, effectively, and in culturally sensitive ways with patients.
  • Demonstrate the ability to obtain and record an accurate and comprehensive medical history systematically.
  • Perform the basic elements of a complete physical examination and accurately record findings.
  • Perform the basic elements of a focused physical examination appropriate to the patient’s chief complaint, signs, and symptoms and accurately record the findings.
  • Generate a problem list based on history and physical examination.
  • Relate the anatomic and physiologic context of physical diagnosis and examination.
  • Identify cultural, socioeconomic, ethnic, gender, disability, and age factors that impact the patient-physician interaction.
  • Demonstrate professional behavior with students, faculty, medical professionals, and members of the health care team with regards to punctuality, reliability, contribution to team efforts, respect for team members, and acceptance of constructive advice.
  • Demonstrate honesty and integrity in all interactions with patients, families, colleagues, and others with whom physicians must interact.
  • Demonstrate the capacity to recognize limitations in one’s knowledge and clinical skills and a commitment to use self-evaluation, constructive feedback, and reflective practice to form the basis of self-directed learning and continuous improvement.


Focused Inquiry and Research Experience 1 (F.I.R.E.)

The central purpose of this module is to allow each student to independently pursue an area of passion that brought him or her to medical school. Students receive training, tools, and mentorship enabling them to successfully conduct a rigorous, independent, and scholarly research project. The project may be in any area of interest related to medicine and where a Research Mentor can be identified and a rigorous scholarly design can be applied. In addition to the Research Mentor, the student is assigned a Faculty Research Advisor whois a member of the Focused Inquiry and  Research Experience (FIRE) Committee that oversees the progress and final research project. Students prepare a proposal and may be asked to present during the mini-conference at the end of the year.

Learning objectives:

  • Describe the scientific method.
  • Identify a topic of personal interest or passion as it relates to the fields of health and medicine and focus that topic into one or more medical-related research questions.
  • Synthesize and critique scholarly literature in an area of interest.
  • Generate a succinct research hypothesis.
  • Develop an appropriate scientific research design with statistically sound strategies.
  • Recognize ethical standards and safety/regulatory issues when working with human patients, animal subjects, and hazardous materials.
  • Write a high quality research project proposal.
  • Demonstrate excellent communication skills when discussing research ideas and communicating project plans in oral presentations.


Hematology and Oncology

Hematology and Oncology is an integrated overview of major hematologic diseases and basic neoplasia. The topics include hemostasis, anemias, nonneoplastic blood disorders, basic neoplasia, carcinogenesis, cancer genetics, and hematologic malignancies. Pathology, pharmacology, laboratory and clinical medicine disciplines are included, and an emphasis is placed on disease classification, differential diagnosis, and current treatment strategies. This module includes active lectures, laboratories, and case based learning. Students will learn how to apply discipline knowledge to hematologic and oncologic diseases so that they will be prepared to manage patients in clinical clerkships and beyond.

Learning objectives:

  • Classify the major categories of hematologic and oncologic diseases using the VINDICATE model.
  • Explain the pathophysiology of major hematologic and oncologic diseases.
  • Describe and illustrate mechanisms of neoplasia.
  • Describe the epidemiology of major hematologic and oncologic diseases.
  • Analyze clinical signs and symptoms of hematologic and oncologic diseases and organize/construct a differential diagnosis.
  • Formulate a diagnostic evaluation for hematologic and oncologic diseases and apply test results to refine the differential diagnosis.
  • Explain basic principles of cancer grading and staging.
  • Describe normal hematopoiesis and mechanisms of hematopoietic disorders.
  • Discuss causes for blood count abnormalities, and the initial laboratory evaluation.
  • Describe normal and abnormal hemostasis and thrombosis and explain basic laboratory testing to differentiate clotting and bleeding disorders.
  • Classify and contrast major forms of anemia and polycythemia, and develop an initial evaluation plan.
  • Compare and contrast leukemias, myeloproliferative disorders and myelodysplastic syndromes in terms of pathophysiology, management, and disease course.
  • Classify lymphoproliferative and immunoproliferative diseases, and discuss the application of staging and grading in therapeutic decisions.
  • Classify the agents used in the treatment of hematologic and oncologic diseases on the basis of mechanism of action.
  • Identify adverse effects and drug interactions associated with each of the classes of agents used in the treatment of hematologic and oncologic diseases.
  • Using pharmacokinetic parameters determine the most appropriate course of treatment in hematologic and oncologic diseases.
  • Design and implement a therapeutic plan for major hematologic and oncologic diseases with consideration of pharmacogenomics and pharmacogenetics.
  • Demonstrate professional behaviors towards students, faculty and other members of the medical education team including punctuality, reliability, preparation and participation in all required learning encounters.