Medical School
Medical School Bulletin

MD Program 4-Year

Graduation Requirements

To earn the MD degree from the Medical College of Wisconsin, students must:

  1. Successfully complete all required basic science courses, clinical clerkships, and elective rotations.
  2. Take and pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Step 1 prior to beginning the coursework of the M4 year. Additionally, Step 2-CK of the USMLE must be taken and a passing score must be reported by March 1 of the M4 year. All students must take the USMLE Step 2-CS examination and report a score by March 1 of the M4 year.
  3. Complete the pathway requirements and scholarly project.
  4. Demonstrate competence in patient evaluation and management.
  5. Demonstrate integrity in personal conduct, respect for the rights of others and evidence of ethical conduct and mature judgment throughout the course of study.
  6. Receive the recommendation of the Academic Standing and Professionalism Committee to the Board of Trustees.
  7. Meet the “Technical Standards for Admission and Graduation.”
  8. Attend the commencement exercises.

MCW Global Competencies

1. Patient Care

1.1. Perform medical, diagnostic, and surgical procedures considered essential for the start of internship

1.2. Gather essential and accurate information about patients and their conditions through history-taking, physical examination, laboratory data, imaging, and other tests

1.4. Interpret laboratory data, imaging studies, and other tests essential for the start of internship

1.5. Demonstrate independent problem-solving interventions based on patient information and preferences, up-to-date scientific evidence, and clinical judgment

1.6. Develop and monitor patient management plans

1.7. Counsel and educate patients and their families to empower them to participate in their care and enable shared decision making

1.9. Understand and recommend health care services to patients, families, and communities aimed at preventing health problems or maintaining health

2. Knowledge for Practice

2.2. Apply established and emerging biomedical scientific principles fundamental to health care for patients and populations

2.4. Apply principles of epidemiological sciences to the identification of health problems, risk factors, treatment strategies, resources, and disease prevention/health promotion efforts for patients and populations

2.5. Apply social-behavioral sciences to provision of patient care, including assessment of the impact of psychosocial and cultural influences on health, disease, care-seeking, care compliance, and barriers to and attitudes toward care

2.6. Contribute to the creation, dissemination, application, and translation of new health care knowledge and practices

3. Practice-Based Learning and Improvement

3.1. Identify strengths, deficiencies, and limits in one's knowledge and expertise

3.2. Set independent learning and improvement goals

3.3. Perform learning activities that address one's gaps in knowledge, skills, and/or attitudes

3.5. Utilize feedback to improve daily practice

4. Interpersonal and Communication Skills

4.1. Communicate effectively with patients, families, and the public, as appropriate, across a broad range of socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds

4.2. Communicate effectively with colleagues, health professionals and health related agencies

4.5. Maintain comprehensive, timely, and accurate medical records

4.6. Demonstrate sensitivity, honesty, empathy and compassion in difficult conversations

4.8. Elicit, listen to, recognize and respond to emotional as well as physical complaints

4.9. Elicit and negotiate appropriate care plans for patients from diverse, socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds

5. Professionalism

5.1. Demonstrate honesty, integrity, and respect in all interactions and patient care

5.4. Demonstrate accountability to patients, society, and the profession

5.6. Demonstrate a commitment to ethical principles in everyday patient care including but not limited to provision or withholding of care, confidentiality, informed consent, and business practices, including compliance with relevant laws, policies, and regulations

5.7. Continually strive to do one’s duty and exceed expectations of patients, colleagues, society and members of the healthcare team

6. Systems-Based Practice

6.1. Work effectively in various health care delivery settings and systems

6.2. Coordinate patient care within the health care system

6.3. Incorporate considerations of cost awareness and risk-benefit analysis in patient and/or population-based care

6.5. Participate in identifying potential system errors and solutions

6.7. Develop awareness to discuss the influence of legislation and political policies on the practice of medicine

7. Interprofessional Collaboration

7.1. Collaborate with other health professionals to establish and maintain a climate of mutual respect, dignity, diversity, ethical integrity, and trust

7.2. Identify one’s own role and the roles of other health professionals to appropriately assess and address the health care needs of the patients and populations served

8. Personal and Professional Development

8.1. Develop self-awareness to engage in appropriate help-seeking behaviors

8.2. Demonstrate healthy coping mechanisms to respond to stress

8.3. Balance personal and professional responsibilities

8.6. Demonstrate level-appropriate leadership skills

8.7. Demonstrate appropriate self-confidence that puts patients, families, and members of the health care team at ease

8.9. Demonstrate resilience when dealing with unanticipated outcomes

Adapted from AAMC Physician Competencies Reference Set (PCRS), 2013
Approved by CEC April 21, 2014

About the Curriculum

The Medical College of Wisconsin’s Discovery Curriculum reflects a dynamic approach that cultivates your skills and interests into a passion for lifelong learning—inspiring you to continuously travel a path of exploration and discovery. The Discovery Curriculum prepares you to become an outstanding physician and a compassionate and innovative leader in patient care, research and community engagement. The MCW experience provides you with enriching opportunities to explore the fascinating world of medicine and discover your true calling.

The Discovery Curriculum 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. It provides you with the drive, methods, collaborative spirit and long-term commitment needed for future success as a physician. Additionally, the curriculum propels you toward clinical excellence in the short term and engenders lifelong learning in the long run. 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 you to think and act like physicians from “day one.”

Some courses, particularly in the M1 and M2 years, are taught at MCW-Milwaukee and transmitted to MCW-Green Bay and MCW-Central Wisconsin allowing students at all campuses to learn together with their cohort.

Additional Curriculum Information

Basic Sciences
Your 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. Your second-year courses are fully integrated and continue your 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 your knowledge of the basic sciences acquired in your first year.

Clinical Experiences
In the first half of the year, you will 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 you, observe your respective levels of patient care and provide direct feedback. The fourth section emphasizes clinical skills practice, allowing you to hone the skills you have absorbed in the clinic. Your 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
As a required component of our curriculum for all M1 and M2 students (optional in the third year), our Scholarly Pathways program provides you the opportunity to individualize aspects of your education by participating in one of our areas of concentration and by pursuing scholarly projects. Students work with peers, building on the foundation of your medical school experiences to pursue an area of common interest in greater depth.

Each of the pathways features two components. The first is a structured curriculum with a core set of competencies delivered through monthly workshops, or core sessions. The second comprises flexible, experiential non-core activities in which each student is guided by a faculty advisor and their own individualized learning plan (ILP) to apply the core concepts in a variety of settings. At the end of the M3 year, students must have completed a scholarly project.
Individualized Study Time
Because we understand everyone learns in a multitude of ways, our Discovery curriculum includes dedicated independent study time, allowing you to prepare and/or review material in a manner best suited to your respective learning style.

Clinical Years (M3 and M4)
The third year of the Discovery Curriculum includes three 16-week blocks with “like” clerkships grouped together with some shared clinical experiences. Our seven clerkships include a required rotation in Anesthesiology. You will have 2 to 10 weeks of elective time available allowing early flexibility in your schedule to explore career opportunities.

Your fourth year incorporates plenty of electives and opportunities for interviewing, in addition to solid preparation for residency, requiring two acting Internships, an outpatient clerkship and a capstone course.
Continuous Professional Development CPD
Your third and fourth years are closely managed in 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 you will become a well-rounded student who is prepared for residency and has mastered the MCW Global Competencies in order to help you become a successful physician.

Course Descriptions

First Year Courses


Clinical Human Anatomy will introduce you to the structural and functional aspects of the human body. You'll explore the macroscopic anatomy of organs, regions, planes and spaces through team cadaver dissection and a variety of imaging techniques – such as X-rays, CT and MRI scans – that relate to clinical practice.

Molecules to Cells will expose you to the molecular and chemical principles of life, such as those concerned with structure and function of proteins and DNA, metabolism and its control, membrane transport and cellular recognition. This course integrates concepts of biochemistry, medical genetics, human development and cell and tissue biology while exploring the processes that occur as a single fertilized human ovum develops, as well as the variety of congenital abnormalities that may ensue.

You will gain knowledge of the physiologic processes of cellular organization, membrane, nerve and muscle physiology, the cardiovascular, respiratory and renal systems, the lymphatic, microcirculation, metabolism and temperature regulation, gastrointestinal physiology and the endocrine and reproductive systems. You'll learn to apply the fundamentals of normal physiology in the understanding of pathophysiology and treatment while developing skills as medical professionals.

Foundations of Clinical Medicine course will prepare you for ethical and professional direct patient care in anticipation of starting clinical work. The unit focuses on the basics of medical interviewing, physical examination, written documentation, oral presentations and the medical record.

Infectious Agents & Host Immunity examines the fundamental principles of microbiology, including the sub-disciplines of immunology, virology, bacteriology, microbial genetics, mycology and parasitology. You'll acquire an understanding of physiologic and pathogenic properties of microorganisms causing disease, immunological responses contributing to health and disease, and the principles of the actions of antimicrobial agents.

Principles of Drug Action integrates neuroscience, psychiatry, microbiology and pharmacological sciences to discuss the principles of pharmacology and major therapeutic drugs. You will learn about the interaction of drugs, drug absorption and elimination, drug distribution, dose-response, toxicity and therapeutic efficacy.

Medical Neuroscience is an integrated multi-departmental course that examines the structure and functions of the human nervous system. You'll learn the basic neuroscience as well as clinical correlations applicable to primary care and the subspecialties.

Foundations of Human Behavior will provide you with a knowledge base in normal human psychological development and behavior across the life cycle, the role of interpersonal relationships within family and other groups, and psychological adaptation to illness.

Bench to Bedside is dedicated to learning activities intended to supplement direct patient care experiences. Topics include multidisciplinary (basic science and clinical faculty) case conferences, the “abnormal” physical exam with basic science and clinical correlations, medical ethics and palliative care, health systems and policy and evidence-based medicine.

Clinical Apprenticeship provides an early clinical experience along with Bench to Bedside. You'll be assigned to a clinic each week for a half-day, during which the provision of patient care is explored under the supervision of faculty members. You will also interact with a clinical preceptor to develop specific core skills attainable during your clinical experiences.

Second Year Courses

The FPP-MSS unit is a foundational integrated course that explores the immune system and its response to infections, concepts important to understanding cell injury, neoplastic processes and genetics. You'll progress through the normal and abnormal development, structure and function of skin, skeletal muscle, cartilage, ligament and bone.

The Cardiovascular unit examines the anatomy, histology, biology and physiology of the cardiovascular system. You will explore advanced normal cardiovascular function and disease, as well as major risk factors and their relationship to cardiovascular diseases. Sessions reinforce understanding of the physiological, biochemical, local and humeral mechanisms in control of the cardiovascular system.

The Renal-Respiratory unit provides a case-based, multi-disciplinary introduction to understanding the kidneys in a clinical context. You will make connections between renal development, histology and function using an integrative approach to the normal and abnormal function of the upper and lower respiratory systems.

Hematopoietic-Lymphatic unit utilizes a multidisciplinary team to advance your knowledge of the development and function of the hematopoietic system, including hemostasis, thrombosis, anemia, proliferative and neoplastic disease, transfusion and transplantation. Sessions reinforce learning of hematopoietic cells and their function under normal and disease states.

Bench to Bedside is dedicated to learning activities intended to supplement direct patient care experiences. Topics include multidisciplinary (basic science and clinical faculty) case conferences, the “abnormal” physical exam with basic science and clinical correlations, medical ethics and palliative care, health systems and policy and evidence-based medicine.

Clinical Apprenticeship provides an early clinical experience along with Bench to Bedside. You'll be assigned to a clinic each week for a half-day, during which the provision of patient care is explored under the supervision of faculty members. You will interact with a clinical preceptor to develop specific core skills attainable during your clinical experiences

The Gastrointestinal-Nutrition unit builds a foundation of understanding of the structure-function relationships which control GI function within the context of disease processes. This includes the anatomical, physiological, and cellular and biochemical functions of the GI tract as well as the organs which secrete components that function in the GI system. You will learn through lecture, interactive, lab and virtual microscope sessions.

The Endocrine-Reproduction unit examines the anatomy, histology, embryology, biochemistry, physiology, pharmacology and pathology of the pituitary, thyroid, parathyroid and adrenal glands. This unit explores the development and progression of female and male reproductive systems, including prenatal development, gender differentiation and the reproductive years.

The Neuroscience-Psychology unit will provide you with the knowledge and skills required to understand and evaluate normal function and pathology of the human nervous system. You'll study the anatomy, biology and function of the central and peripheral nervous systems as you explore the diagnosis, pathophysiology and treatment of neurologic diseases.

The symptoms unit integrates basic science courses, history and physical findings, knowledge of clinical correlations and understanding of demographic and psychological factors influencing patient presentation and treatment, through a clinical symptom-based process. You'll bring together what you have learned about normal and abnormal gross and cellular structure, biochemistry, physiology, neoplasia and the role of microorganisms in each of the organ-based units. You can then apply this knowledge in patients presenting with a particular symptom.

The Foundational Capstone course provides clinical learning activities designed to prepare students for the USMLE Step 1 Exam and M3 clerkships. You'll utilize simulated patient care encounters along with follow-up clinical reasoning and oral presentation exercises to ensure you're prepared for clerkships.
Third Year Courses

The Surgery clerkship is an eight-week rotation and is designed to provide broad exposure to the wide variety of topics in both general surgery and the surgical subspecialties. After completing the clerkship, you will be able to recognize common surgical diseases and be familiar with the initial evaluation and management of these common surgical problems.

The Obstetrics and Gynecology clerkship is an intensive six-week rotation designed to
provide you with a comprehensive background regarding women’s health, giving you the skills necessary to manage routine obstetric and gynecologic problems during your career, regardless of specialty choice.

Anesthesiology is a two-week rotation. You will be introduced to the care of perioperative patients throughout all phases of perioperative care. The focus will be on performing a preoperative evaluation and identifying risk factors, intraoperative management (including management of common problems) and post-operative care (including acute pain management).

The Family Medicine clerkship is a four-week rotation introducing you to the principles of family and community medicine. You will have experiences diagnosing and managing the most common medical problems in family practice. You'll learn the process of care in family medicine, learn how to apply evidence-based medicine in patient care, develop important clinical problem-solving skills and communication skills in the outpatient setting, and enhance your knowledge of population-based medicine.

The Psychiatry clerkship is a four-week rotation working with psychiatrists and other mental health providers. You'll learn to recognize the difference between emotional problems and mental illness, demonstrate the ability to perform a psychiatric interview that will lead to a formulation of the problem and method of intervention, list major psychiatric diagnostic entities and apply them to case histories, learn about psychotropic medications, learn different modalities used in hospitals to treat patients, and demonstrate the ability to talk with ease to patients who have emotional problems, and effectively manage psychiatric emergency situations.

The Pediatric clerkship is a six-week rotation that consists of four weeks of inpatient and two weeks of outpatient pediatrics experience. During the four weeks of inpatient, you'll become part of a team of interns and residents taking care of pediatric patients in a hospital setting. During the two weeks of outpatient, you will spend time in outpatient pediatric subspecialty clinics and in primary care offices.

The Medical College of Wisconsin offers more than 200 electives in 20 different departments. You may select from any specialty or subspecialty ranging from advanced gross anatomy to neurosurgery along with multiple research electives and away rotations. Over the third and fourth year you'll take 22 weeks of electives. Depending on your individual preferences and scheduling, year three is 2 to 10 weeks of electives and year four is 12 to 20 weeks of electives.

The Internal Medicine clerkship is an eight-week rotation and provides you with an intensive exposure to the practice of internal medicine in the inpatient setting. You will complete two four-week inpatient rotations during the clerkship. The core clerkship focuses on the basic competencies of internal medicine considered necessary for third-year medical students as determined by the Clerkship Directors in Internal Medicine (CDIM) national curriculum.

The CPD course is the continuation of the early clinical coursework to ensure your continued competency progression in the clinical setting. This course assigns one clinical faculty director to a cohort of students. The CPD director monitors and measures your performance and competencies based on your cumulative performance in the required components. You'll work one-on-one with your CPD director to manage an Individualized Learning Plan. This course is ongoing throughout your third and fourth years.
Fourth Year Courses

Four-week rotation offered in an outpatient setting.

The acting internship, regardless of which department/division offers it, is designed to preview the responsibilities of an intern. You are required to complete a four-week medicine acting internship and a second four-week acting internship chosen from the list of approved rotations. All of the goals and key features will be accomplished with the appropriate supervision by senior residents and attending physicians.

The two-week Capstone unit, which is part of Continuous Professional Development, provides our graduating students a broad exposure to practical clinical issues commonly faced by residents early in their residency. Specialty-specific workshops and additional training as required by residency programs are provided.