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Discovery Curriculum

Medical College of Wisconsin Discovery Curriculum

MCW’s Discovery Curriculum is a dynamic model that features multifaceted learning modalities – including classroom experiences led by nationally-recognized faculty, clinical experiences guided by expert mentors, peer-based small group interactions and opportunities for individualized career pursuits.

Our Discovery Curriculum provides students with the drive, methods, collaborative spirit and long-term commitment needed for future success as physicians. Additionally, the curriculum propels students towards clinical excellence in the short term and engenders lifelong learning. The course of study reflects the collaborative and enthusiastic development effort of basic scientists, clinicians, students and staff members to create an innovative curriculum that is geared toward producing exceptional and compassionate physicians prepared to practice medicine in the 21st century. Truly, the Discovery Curriculum encourages students to think and act like physicians from “day one.”

Basic Sciences

The first-year course of study ensures students with varied backgrounds master fundamental basic science content before progressing to complex biomedical problem-solving in organ system units. The second-year courses are fully integrated and continue students’ preparation for the United States Medical Licensing Exam Step 1. Systems-based and symptom-based units are organized around common symptoms and focus on assimilating students’ knowledge of the basic sciences acquired in year one.

Early Clinical Experiences

In the first half of the year, students begin learning the basic clinical competencies required for working in the clinics – which commences in the second half of the year. During the clinical apprenticeships in the second and third sections, preceptors mentor students, observe their respective levels of patient care and provide direct feedback. The fourth section emphasizes clinical skills practice, allowing students to hone the skills they have absorbed in the clinic. The third and fourth years feature increased exposure to the clinical experience by way of clerkships and sub-internships – along with continued exposure in the basic sciences.  

Scholarly Concentrations

Our Scholarly Pathways program provides students the opportunity to individualize aspects of their education by participating in one of our areas of concentration and by pursuing scholarly projects.

Individualized Study Time

Because students learn in a multitude of ways, the Discovery Curriculum includes dedicated independent study time to allow students to prepare and/or review material in a manner best suited to their respective learning styles. 

Clinical Years

The third year of the Discovery Curriculum includes three 16-week blocks with “like” clerkships grouped together with some shared clinical experiences.  MCW’s eight clerkships include required rotations in Anesthesiology and Neurology.   Students have 2 – 10 weeks of elective time available allowing early flexibility in their schedules to explore career opportunities. 

The fourth year incorporates plenty of electives and vacation opportunities for interviewing in addition to solid preparation for residency requiring two Acting Internships, an outpatient clerkship and a capstone course.


Continuous Professional Development

The third and fourth years are closely managed by a Continuous Professional Development (CPD) course that focuses on the longitudinal progression of clinical skills and integration of cross-cutting topics including the basic sciences.  The CPD course ensures a well-rounded student that is prepared for residency and has mastered the MCW Global Competencies and Terminal Objectives in order to become a successful physician.
© 2014 Medical College of Wisconsin
Page Updated 01/28/2014