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Four Phases in Four Years

The MD curriculum is divided into four phases (view a chart of the 4 year MD Curriculum):

Phase 1:  Foundations of Medicine (18 months)

Following a week-long shadowing experience, known as “Week on the Wards,” students begin a 4-month “Healthy Human” module to study healthy human physiology. During this time, students begin their clinical skills training, meeting twice a week with their small group and small group leader – forming a close relationship with classmates and their faculty mentor early on. Small group discussions about professionalism, ethics, communication, cultural competency, and other “How to be a Doctor” skills add to the “whole person approach” to medical education.

Using those new skills, students begin seeing real patients in an outpatient clinic in their fifth month of medical school. Reporting for service one afternoon every other week for 12-months, first-year medical students are able to learn, hands-on, from a healthcare team – and their patients – in a longitudinal experience.

At this same time, students begin studying human disease in systems-based blocks for the duration of the Foundations Phase. Anatomy lab also takes place during this first phase. Each of 24 dissection tables is equipped with a computer to instantly access magnetic resonance and other images, study guides, lecture notes, and other electronic references. 

Grading is Pass/Fail for the first 18 months of our curriculum.

Finishing halfway through the second year, students are given two months of study time for Step 1 of the United States Medical Licensing Exam.

Phase 2:  Applications of Medical Sciences (12 months)

Providing students with core knowledge of the basic clinical medical and surgical fields, each student will complete required hospital rotations in Surgery, Medicine, Pediatrics, Psychiatry, Neurology, Obstetrics & Gynecology, and Radiology, as well as outpatient rotations in Adult & Pediatric Primary Care, Dermatology, Urology, Ophthalmology, Orthopedic Surgery, Otolaryngology, and Palliative Care.

Students complete these rotations at Emory and Emory-affiliated healthcare facilities throughout the Atlanta area, including:

Phase 3:  Discovery (5 months)

This phase is a structured time for students to conduct a hypothesis-driven research project under the direction of a faculty member. While the Discovery project must be a scientific inquiry based in Medicine, students are able combine their interests in other areas, such as creative writing, public health, community development, education, or health policy, into their project. Many students are also able to include an international experience in their Discovery project. This is a critical opportunity for students to renew their creative energies and explore a new facet of medicine under the tutelage of an Emory faculty member. 

During Discovery, medical students will work virtually full time on their projects with no other commitments except occasional seminars or workshops relevant to their work. With only one required course held during this time (a special course addressing topics relevant to Discovery including reading the literature, writing and publishing papers, research ethics, and the IRB), students are also able to spend time in clinic to maintain and develop their clinical skills. 

Phase 4:  Translation of Medical Sciences (9 months)

This phase prepares each individual for the transition to physician. Required senior rotations include Emergency Medicine, Critical Care (ICU), and a sub-internship in Surgery, Medicine or Pediatrics; there is sufficient time for electives or away-rotations during this year. The Translation Phase concludes with a required month-long Capstone course that offers carefully designed lectures, workshops, panel discussions, and exercises which equip the soon-to-be-graduate with the practical skills and information that will be crucial to their success as residents.