MD Degree Curriculum

Our curriculum trains you to think critically while developing the skills and values you need to provide exemplary care.

David Milling, MD ’93

Our medical curriculum sets the stage for an excellent residency placement, a gratifying career and lifelong learning.

Grounding you in the sciences fundamental to medicine, our organ-based curriculum emphasizes self-directed learning and trains you to think critically and solve problems individually or as a team—skills you’ll call on throughout your professional life to make informed decisions for your patients.

And at UB, you’ll enjoy the benefits of applying those skills early: Your sustained clinical experience begins within your second month here.

First and Second Year

At the end of the first year, we’ve already learned how to establish rapport with a patient, conduct a patient interview and complete a structured physical."

Steven Gangloff

Foundation Courses

During your first year at UB, you’ll learn many of the core concepts that form the scientific basis of medicine.

These courses cover such subjects as:

  • gross anatomy
  • cell biology
  • metabolism and nutrition
  • molecular and population genetics
  • biostatistics and epidemiology
  • host defenses and hematology

Our basic sciences faculty teach our foundation courses in both lecture format as well as in small groups and through problem-based learning.

Integrated Organ-Based Modules

During the second semester of your first year, and throughout your second year, you’ll learn about organs and functional systems of the body in clinical context.

These interdisciplinary modules integrate the basic molecular, cellular and organ system processes with mechanisms of disease.

They cover the following systems:

  • cardiovascular
  • gastrointestinal
  • renal
  • musculoskeletal
  • pulmonary
  • neuropsychological
  • endocrine
  • reproductive

Our basic sciences and clinical faculty teach these modules, emphasizing small-group work using structured case studies and lectures. Working as a team, you will be assigned questions to research, answer and present — an approach that will help you adapt to the challenges you’ll encounter as a physician.

During each module, we round out your understanding of the conditions you’re studying by inviting patients to speak. Their firsthand experiences delve into the non-clinical aspects of disease, helping you deepen your compassion as you explore the human side of medicine.

The fact that we get put in office settings with preceptors during our first year is awesome because we learn what it feels like to be a doctor."

Anthony Turner

Clinical Practice of Medicine

Spanning the first two years of medical school, the Clinical Practice of Medicine course addresses the skills you need to care for and communicate with patients.

These include:

  • medical interviewing
  • physical and mental status examination
  • human behavior in illness
  • medical ethics
  • caring for patients with special needs
  • risk factor assessment and intervention
  • care of patients across the lifespan

You will acquire these skills in the following clinical and academic settings:

Community-based medical practices

By the second month of medical school, we will assign you to a community-based physician, giving you your first hands-on experience with ambulatory medicine.

Under your preceptor’s supervision, you will interview patients, conduct physical exams, record your findings and present cases.

In your first year, you will work with either a primary care physician or a specialist once a week. In your second year, you will work with a physician once a week.

Our Clinical Competency Center

Working with standardized patients, you will perform more specialized exams and continue learning how to communicate in the thoughtful manner central to successful doctor-patient relationships.

Our center’s 12 exam rooms are equipped with digital and audio feeds, so faculty can evaluate your performance, encourage your progress and prepare you well for your licensing exams.

UB-affiliated hospitals

You will take histories and perform physical exams within our unique consortium of affiliated teaching hospitals, allowing you to care for diverse patient populations in a wide array of settings.

Lecture halls

Once a week, our clinical faculty reinforce your hands-on experience with lectures on communication, history taking, specialty exams, patient counseling and other pertinent issues.

Electives

You may take electives starting in the second semester of your first year provided they do not interfere with your required courses.

Examples of popular electives among our first- and second-year students are Medical Spanish, Medical Ethics, Health Law and Service Learning.

Mentoring

We will assign you to a “family,” a student group that provides peer support and social interactions. You will be accompanied by fourth-year students from the Gold Humanism Honor Society.

Twice each year, you will be invited to dinner with practicing community physicians — many of them UB alumni — who will share their perspectives on selecting a career and offer you valuable developmental support.

Academic Guidance

We present sessions on knowing your learning style and advancing your study skills. Individual guidance is provided as needed and by request. You may be referred to an on-campus learning specialist or to various student-led tutoring groups.

Career Exploration

We will introduce you to, and guide you in the use of, the Careers in Medicine (CiM) tutorials of the Association of American Medical Colleges.

These tutorials allow you to:

  • assess your interests and personality in selecting a medical career
  • learn about the lifestyles, prerequisites and other characteristics of various specialties
  • compare your qualifications and competitiveness for residency training
  • position yourself for residency

Third Year

Clerkships

Thanks to your early clinical experience, you’re ready to hit the ground running when third year rolls around.”

Elizabeth Abram,
MD ’11

In your third year of medical school, your education and training takes place primarily in our affiliated hospitals, where you will provide care in a variety of settings to patients across the socioeconomic spectrum.

Your six required clerkships are:

  • medicine
  • surgery
  • obstetrics-gynecology
  • family medicine
  • pediatrics
  • psychiatry

Throughout your clerkships you will observe and participate in the care of patients with a wide variety of illnesses. As your skills evolve, you will receive more responsibility.

You will also participate in lecture-demonstrations of clinical problems, small-group problem-solving, conferences and ward rounds, with an increasing emphasis on clinical competence and disease prevention.

At our state-of-the-art Behling Simulation Center, you will practice procedures on simulated patients. Alongside students from UB’s five health sciences disciplines, you will work as part of an interprofessional team to solve problems you encounter in simulated medical scenarios, make decisions and manage crises.

Electives

You may take two electives at any of our affiliated hospitals during your third year of medical school.

We offer more than 200 unrestricted electives that let you explore clinical specialties and research in a variety of settings while helping you choose a specialty for postgraduate residency training.

Additionally, you can take Surgical Subspecialties and/or Neurology — two of our three required fourth-year rotations — as third-year electives.

Ethics

Within the six clinical clerkships we incorporate a longitudinal course in ethics, dedicating at least one small-group session per clerkship to the ethical dimensions of clinical practice.

These sessions provide a forum to discuss your own cases and give you the means to navigate the ethical issues you’ll encounter in practice.

Intersession

During our two-week intersession program, you will return to the classroom for lectures, seminars and small-group discussions about a variety of core topics relevant to patient care.

In previous years, our faculty have covered such subjects as:

  • medical jurisprudence
  • medical humanities
  • medical economics
  • pain management
  • palliative care
  • global health

The intersession program takes place between the first and second semester of your third year.

Individualized Career Planning

We will guide you in preparing your curriculum vitae and personal statements for residency program applications. You will meet with a student affairs dean to begin the preparation of the Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE) — the Dean’s Letter — for your residency application.

This meeting combines the personalization of the MSPE with career choice, guidance and preparation of the application packet.

Individual advising takes advantage of the knowledge of advising faculty, either directly or through referral to an expert in your area of interest.

Fourth Year

You’re allowed to develop your own interests. You’re not pressured to fit into a particular mold."

Sergio Hernandez,
MD ’06

Electives

Your fourth year consists largely of electives. This arrangement individualizes your training as you continue sampling possible career choices, refining your clinical skills and preparing for residency.

With the guidance of a faculty adviser, you will choose from our 200-plus offerings in such diverse specialties as anesthesiology, radiation oncology and neurosurgery.

You may also:

  • conduct or conclude research
  • re-examine the basic medical sciences
  • travel abroad for a preceptorship
  • take “away” electives at any of the more than 150 clinical institutions and hospitals with which we have affiliation agreements

Depending on whether you took any required rotations during your third year, you will take between five and seven unrestricted electives during your fourth year.

Required Rotations

You must take the following rotations to graduate:

  • Neurology
  • Surgical Subspecialties
  • Advanced Medicine

If you have not taken Neurology and Surgical Subspecialties during your third year of medical school, you will take these during your fourth.

You may only take Advanced Medicine during your fourth year.

Individualized Coaching

You will be individually coached in the preparation of your residency application, and we will help you find a specialty match that aligns with your interest and academic performance. Match lists are reviewed as needed and progress through the application and interview processes is monitored.

Our experienced faculty, many of whom sit on residency selection committees, will perform mock interviews. These prepare you for your interviews and alert you to potentially challenging questions and interactions. Our goal is for you to present yourself in the best light.