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Northwestern University (Feinberg School of Medicine)

The Feinberg School of Medicine is a part of the vibrant educational and cultural community of Northwestern University, an independent private institution founded in 1851. The Feinberg School—one of Northwestern's 11 colleges and schools—stands out among the nation's medical schools. Consistently receiving high marks in U.S. News & World Report surveys, the medical school attracts bright and talented individuals to its faculty and student body.

The University, primarily through the Feinberg School, is part of the McGaw Medical Center of Northwestern University, an academic medical center in which the missions of education, research, and clinical services are paramount. Other McGaw members are Children's Memorial Medical Center, Evanston Northwestern Healthcare, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, and Jesse Brown VA Medical Center (formerly VA Chicago Health Care System). Medical students and residents receive part of their education at these hospitals, and nearly all the attending staff members have faculty appointments at the Feinberg School.

Northwestern offers several degree options that allow students to combine study for the doctor of medicine (MD) degree with other interests such as research, health services management, or public health. The medical school also provides, with the five member hospitals of the McGaw Medical Center of Northwestern University, graduate medical education that includes 27 fully approved residency programs and a number of advanced level fellowship programs.

Students also may pursue PhD and certificate-level training in such areas as biomedical research, clinical psychology, genetic counseling, and physical therapy, among others.

An academic medical center such as Northwestern's strives to quickly apply laboratory research successes to clinical practice. The medical school has pushed forward the science of medicine and focused on clinically useful research throughout its history. This includes the first antiseptic surgery, the first amniocentesis, the first use of a microscope in surgery, and the earliest laser surgeries.

In 2003–03 the Feinberg School garnered $170.6 million in research funding, more than any other school at Northwestern. Medical school awards accounted for more than 48 percent of overall awards to the University. Another $50.7 million was awarded to faculty members conducting research sponsored by Northwestern-affiliated hospitals.

Among the 125 U.S. medical schools, the Feinberg School is ranked 23rd by U.S. News and World Report for research activity and 39th by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In 2002 five Feinberg School departments ranked among the top 20 nationally in NIH funding for their specialties: urology (3rd), cell and molecular biology (9th), physical medicine and rehabilitation (12th), preventive medicine (16th), and dermatology (17th).

Northwestern has long excelled in producing highly competent clinicians by providing outstanding clinical instruction in myriad patient care environments from urban to suburban hospitals and clinics to private practice offices. The University is affiliated with the McGaw Medical Center of Northwestern University, a five-hospital consortium. In addition, the Feinberg School benefits from a close partnership with the Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation (NMFF), a premier multispecialty physician organization whose members are full-time faculty members at the medical school.

Northwestern's ability to provide premier medical education and research programs relies on the expertise and experience of its faculty. Numbering close to 4,000 members, the Feinberg School faculty roster includes some of the best minds in medicine and biomedical research. Many have gained national and international prominence.

As of March 2004, the faculty included 1,417 full-time, 179 part-time and 1,404 contributed service (volunteer) faculty members. Full-time faculty members provide nearly all the basic science instruction at the medical school. Much of the core material in clinical clerkships is taught by full-time or part-time faculty members who also conduct research. Contributed services faculty members, who are in private practice, cover a significant proportion of clinical instruction students receive at the medical school.

The Feinberg School enrolls nearly 700 medical students each year. Diverse in personalities, interests, and backgrounds, they have earned bachelor's degrees ranging from biology to English. About one-third have "bucked" tradition and taken off one year or more between undergraduate and medical school. Some have had careers as teachers, architects, social workers, and aviators, to name a few. About 15 percent of students describe themselves as African, African American, Mexican American, Native American, or Puerto Rican.

Those matriculating in fall 2004 offer a diverse portfolio of achievements and experiences, from climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro to receiving a National Science Foundation fellowship. The youngest entering medical student is 19 and the oldest 30. The incoming students graduated from 62 undergraduate schools.

The medical school's other students include more than 800 residents and fellows enrolled in graduate medical education programs, nearly 300 students earning life sciences PhD degrees, 180 physical therapy students, and those enrolled in programs such as clinical psychology and genetic counseling.

More than 1,200 staff members fulfill numerous roles in support of the education, research, and clinical services missions of the Feinberg School. Their responsibilities are as varied as their work environments, which range from offices to research laboratories.

Feinberg has an integrated doctor of medicine curriculum designed to prepare students for careers as medical professionals. As such, it emphasizes the importance of attaining cross-disciplinary medical knowledge.

The quality of a physician’s education to a large extent depends upon the knowledge and training received in the classroom and hospital. Yet it is often the little things that make students happy at any given institution. These additional experiences serve as food for the soul, reminding students that they are real people and not just medical students.

Northwestern's Feinberg School of Medicine offers students a wide variety of activities from which to choose, as well as the time to participate in them. Students have an active voice in administrative decisions that directly affect them, such as food service contracts and disciplinary actions. Most of these concerns are handled through the Student Senate, which consists of five representatives from each class and representatives from most student organizations within the medical school. Student Senate officers meet with the dean monthly on an informal basis and may be called upon to serve on dean’s committees that review major policy decisions within the medical school.

The admissions process relies heavily on student interest and impressions. Three third-year students serve on the admissions committee, while about 30 fourth-year students serve on the interview panels and 40–50 first- and second-year students participate as hosts and tour guides for applicants invited for an interview.

Feinberg students are involved in many medical and community organizations but also make time to enjoy all that Chicago has to offer. With a population of nearly 3 million, Chicago is the cultural, industrial, and commercial center of the Midwest. The Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of Science and Industry, Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium and Oceanarium, and Adler Planetarium—a few of the city's nationally known museums—draw millions of visitors each year. Those who enjoy the performing arts have many options, including the world-famous Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Lyric Opera, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and numerous theater groups. Chicago's universities and colleges stimulate cultural creativity and appreciation. Art in all its forms—music, dance, drama, painting, sculpture—is part of the Chicago scene.

For recreation, entertainment, and sheer enjoyment, Chicago provides a wide range of extraordinary opportunities. Major league baseball; professional basketball, football, and hockey; and any number of collegiate sporting events attract thousands of enthusiastic spectators. Winter and summer recreation areas for skiing, jogging, hiking, swimming, sailing, playing tennis, and golfing are located in the many parks of the city and surrounding area.

Chicago is a city of many neighborhoods and lifestyles. McGaw Medical Center hospitals are located in three communities: the Streeterville and Lincoln Park neighborhoods of Chicago and the Chicago suburb of Evanston. Situated between the shoreline of Lake Michigan and North Michigan Avenue, the medical school and Northwestern Memorial and other campus hospitals are part of the Near North Side—a vibrant, urban neighborhood that includes high-rise apartments and offices and world-class shops, restaurants, and entertainment.

Children's Memorial Hospital is located in Lincoln Park, a culturally diverse Chicago neighborhood with outdoor cafes, jazz clubs, and the Lincoln Park Zoo. Evanston is 12 miles from Chicago and the medical school campus. It is home to the undergraduate school as well as many of the graduate programs of Northwestern University.

School name:Northwestern UniversityFeinberg School of Medicine
Address:303 East Chicago Avenue
Zip & city:IL 60611-3008 Illinois

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Feinberg School of Medicine Medical School Location

Feinberg School of Medicine Courses


Students begin their medical education with 2 years of basic sciences instruction, and then proceed to the 2 clinical years. The curriculum emphasizes active rather than passive learning where small-group and self-directed study sessions give students the opportunity to apply and evaluate newly learned concepts. For the first 2 years, students learn in short lectures of no more than 10 hours per week, labs, group seminars, small-group and problem-based learning discussions, computer-assisted sessions, and related educational activities. For all 4 years, self-directed and collaborative learning modes are encouraged and expected.

In the first 2 years, students participate in a curriculum organized by the study of organ systems. In the first year, the basic science curriculum, called Structure-Function, incorporates the study of anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, and histology into the organ-based approach. The second year basic science curriculum, called Scientific Basis of Medicine, begins with an overview of immunology, microbiology, and infectious diseases. Then, study focuses on the pathology, pathophysiology, and pharmacology specific to each organ system.


During the third year and fourth years, after Introduction to Clinical Clerkships, students rotate through a series of clerkships (such as emergency medicine, pediatrics, surgery, and psychiatry) where independent and collaborative learning modes continue to be encouraged and expected. Professional development is emphasized through continuation of the Patient, Physician and Society curriculum, begun in the first year. Third- and fourth-year students are also expected to teach other medical students, thus helping to prepare them for their roles as physician educators with students, residents, and colleagues.


* Problem-Based Learning (PBL) : Problem-based learning is part of the Structure-Function and Scientific Basis of Medicine courses. It takes place in small-group sessions using cases designed to integrate information across the basic sciences in the context of medicine. PBL is a student-centered, self-directed learning experience that promotes a variety of educational objectives. These include learning how to work independently and in groups; analyze problems; frame questions; develop and test hypotheses; recognize knowledge deficiencies and to pursue strategies for addressing them; communicate with colleagues; and develop professional skills and attitudes. The students use these skills to learn the basic science concepts and related issues that are necessary to understand the problems that are intrinsically posed in the cases. The clinical context of the cases provides a motivation for learning and helps stimulate the development of life-long learning skills and habits; nonetheless, diagnosis and patient management, per se, are not the principle objectives of PBL.
Each PBL group has about eight students and a faculty tutor/facilitator. Case information is disclosed progressively during the first session and across two or more sessions for each case. The students identify learning issues and needs and assign learning tasks among the group. The students discuss their findings at the next session and review the case in light of their learning. Groups meet for two hours, twice weekly for five to six weeks. Four PBL "blocks" occur in the first year and three in the second year.

* Structure-Function : Structure-Function is a lecture and laboratory course that integrates basic science topics in an interdisciplinary approach. It is organized into six sequential units: Fundamentals of Cellular Function, Introduction to the Human Body/Endocrine, Gastrointestinal/Reproductive Systems, Cardiovascular/Renal/Respiratory Systems, Musculoskeletal/Head and Neck, and Neuroscience.
The Fundamentals unit addresses biochemistry, cell biology, molecular biology, genetics, and signal transduction. Introduction to the Human Body/Endocrine makes the transition from cells to tissues and organismal biology with the introduction of embryology, histology, and gross anatomy and begins the first of several physiology-oriented units. The next two units are organized by organ system with emphasis on physiology and the relevant integration of anatomy, histology, and biochemistry. The Musculoskeletal/Head and Neck unit is mostly gross anatomy. The Neuroscience unit encompasses neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, behavior, and learning and includes laboratory sessions on brain dissection.
A grade of "Pass" in Structure-Function is achieved by successfully completing each of Structure Function’s six units. Each unit consists of a written multiple choice exam, and units two through six have a practical exam component. The practical exams are laboratory identification in gross anatomy, histology or neuroanatomy.

* Scientific Basis of Medicine : The Scientific Basis of Medicine occupies the mornings of the second year. It consists of lectures and a variety of small group activities that focus on the traditional disciplines of genetics, immunology, infectious diseases, microbiology, pathophysiology, general and systemic pathology, pharmacology, psychiatry, and medical psychology. Like Structure–Function, it is arranged into units organized mostly by organ system. The course begins with the "Tool Box" which consists of basic science concepts that will be applied in each of the following units: Renal, Endocrine, Reproduction/Female and Male Genito-urinary, Musculoskeletal, Skin, Respiratory, GI and Liver, Nutrition, Cardiovascular, Hematology, Oncology, Eye, and Nervous System and Behavior.
The SBM course has small group sessions (SGS) in two basic formats that rely on group participation and discussion as a primary learning mode. The class is divided into six groups of approximately 28 students with a faculty facilitator in each group. Some SGSs are largely under the direction of a faculty facilitator and others are entirely led by one or a few students who present a specific assigned topic. In other sessions, a faculty facilitator directs the discussion. In both formats, the material is mostly new, integral to the SBM course, and affords an active learning setting for students instead of lecture or review. Three microbiology laboratory sessions take place early in the course.
Seven written exams, consisting of multiple choice questions, contribute to the course grade in Scientific Basis of Medicine.

* Patient, Physician & Society : The Patient, Physician & Society course provides a comprehensive, integrated introduction to professional skills and perspectives. The course meets two afternoons per week throughout the first two years and then once a month in the last two years. For the first two years one afternoon is devoted to the Patient and Physician relationship; students begin to build clinical skills through learning experiences that provide an integrated, biopsychosocial perspective of patient care. The other afternoon deals with Physician and Society matters and addresses ethics and human values, public health, and health policy. Activities in both tracks incorporate health promotion and disease prevention as a context for discussion.The PPS sessions are designed for interactive learning; students work in small groups, practice skills with patient instructors, and devote time to field placements. The medical school class is divided into four "colleges" of equal size and demographic composition. Each college has a clinician as its mentor; the college mentor works with the students throughout all four years of the PPS course.

* Medical Decision Making : Medical Decision Making addresses the knowledge and skills that are required in making basic and important decisions in the practice of medicine. These include physician computer literacy skills, writing and presentation skills, critical evaluation of the literature, study design, biostatistics, epidemiology, issues related to diagnosis and the ordering and interpretation of clinical tests, decision analysis, cost-effectiveness analysis, and decision psychology. MDM provides a context that will help students understand and apply the large amount of basic science and clinical information learned in the first two years.
The course is taught in three blocks (MDM I, II, and III), two in the first year and one in the second year. The first course students have in medical school is MDM I. The format for this one week block includes lectures and discussions at the college level. Students are introduced to the problems of making decisions with incomplete or imperfect information as well as how to acquire and evaluate medical information. MDM II is a two week block that takes place in the last two weeks of the first year and is taught in small group workshops as well as lectures; content includes basic study designs, biostatistics, epidemiology, literature critique, and basic concepts in diagnostic test use. MDM III is a two week block in spring of the second year, has a format similar to MDM II, and deals with advanced concepts in test use, the practice of evidence-based medicine, decision modeling including cost-effectiveness, additional study designs and critique, decision psychology related to both the patient and the physician, and computer decision aids.

* Interdiscplinary Medicine : The overall goal of Interdisciplinary Medicine Course is to enhance what you learn in your clinical clerkships by applying interdisciplinary perspectives. The full day of class is designed to help you develop knowledge, skills, and professional values in an ongoing reflective manner throughout your clinical years of medical school. Classes include: Advanced Physical Diagnosis, Nutrition Skills, Health Law, Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Geriatric Medicine, Palliative Medicine, IDM Grand Rounds, Career Development, Medical Decision Making/Evidence-based Medicine, Difficult Conversations: Advanced Communication Skills, Ethical Legal and Social Implications of Medicine, Practice-Based Learning and Quality Improvement, Patient Physician Society III: Professional Perspectives. These classes meet once a month.

* Patient, Physician & Society IV : This course meets once a month for a total of 11 times during the year. Students cover the following topics: health economics, teaching skills, and professional perspectives. This is the culminating course of the students' four years of Patient, Physician & Society courses.

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