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University of California San Francisco (School of Medicine)

Ranked fourth among the nation's medical schools, the UCSF School of Medicine earns its greatest distinction from the outstanding faculty - including 3 Nobel laureates, 31 National Academy of Sciences members, 41 American Academy of Arts and Sciences members, 55 Institute of Medicine members, and 16 Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigators. The school is comprised of 26 academic departments, 8 organized research units, and 8 interdisciplinary research centers at sites throughout San Francisco.

The UCSF School of Medicine strives to advance human health through a fourfold mission of education, research, patient care and public service.

The School of Medicine earns renown for many groundbreaking medical and scientific discoveries, including the development of recombinant DNA techniques in 1974 and the genetically engineered hepatitis B vaccine in 1985. The work of UCSF scientists has been recognized by 3 Nobel Prizes, most recently in 1997 for the discovery of prions.

One of the most vibrant and culturally diverse cities in the world, San Francisco offers something for everyone, from sweeping hilltop views of the bay and Golden Gate Bridge to distinctive neighborhoods bustling with cafes, shops, and restaurants.

Medical students typically gravitate toward the neighborhoods closest to the UCSF Parnassus campus: the Inner Sunset and Cole Valley. The new Mission Bay area is also attracting many students and young professionals.

The life of a medical student is full, to be sure. But living in San Francisco means that when you’re ready for a break from the library or the hospital, there’s an entire world at your doorstep. So grab a bite of dim sum, stop into a club to hear a local band, or head to the beach for an afternoon by the ocean. (Just remember to bring a warm jacket if you go to the beach, even in the summer - temperatures in the 50s are the norm in San Francisco.)

Our program at UCSF is built on the premise that students who play an active role in their education emerge with deeper knowledge, better skills, and a clearer sense of how they want to practice medicine.

Interdisciplinary, case-based courses; problem-based learning, a small group discussion format in which students determine the learning objectives; the clinical skills center that helps students develop strong clinical and communication skills; a pass/fail grading system – these and many other innovations distinguish the UCSF School of Medicine curriculum.

Our aim is to create the best possible educational environment. We seek those students who can take the greatest advantage of all that we offer.

The UCSF School of Medicine consists of 26 academic departments, 9 organized research units (ORUs), and 10 interdisciplinary centers. Traditional departmental structure serves as a framework for organizing curriculum and for housing faculty appointments, while ORUs and interdisciplinary centers tackle the complex challenges of modern medicine with a cross-discipline team approach.

The outstanding UCSF School of Medicine faculty is the greatest measure contributing to the high ranking of the school and of the UC Medical Center. This distinguished group of 5,000 (1,500 full-time faculty) includes 3 Nobel Laureates, 32 National Academy of Sciences members, 46 Institute of Medicine members, 34 American Academy of Arts and Sciences fellows, and 16 Howard Hughes investigators - largest cohort of any medical school in the nation.

UCSF has long been committed to world-class medical education. The current medical school curriculum, which debuted in 2001, is both multidisciplinary and multidimensional, offering an array of opportunities to develop a depth of knowledge and skills. These opportunities enhance students' deep sense of purpose and responsibility.

The curriculum challenges old assumptions about the way students learn and encourages their active participation in the process of study and investigation. Medical education must inspire. Accordingly, the list of UCSF innovations garners continual commendation not just from our own students and faculty, but from schools and education leaders across the country. These innovations include: Case-based and integrated block courses in the first two years; the third year Intersessions and the fourth year Areas of Concentration; a highly flexible digital curriculum called, iROCKET; and the Academy of Medical Educators, which offers unique institutional support for teaching excellence.

School name:University of California San FranciscoSchool of Medicine
Address:513 Parnassus Avenue
Zip & city:CA 94143-0410 California

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School of Medicine Courses


The Essential Core constitutes the first 18 months of medical school and consists of 9 interdisciplinary block courses organized around central themes or systems. Foundations of Patient Care (FPC), a longitudinal clinical and interviewing skills course, runs for both years. Each of the other block courses tackles a major biological theme; the basic and clinical sciences relevant to this theme are intertwined with other aspects of the practice of medicine, including public health, epidemiology, and the social and behavioral sciences.
The Essential Core provides many opportunities for active and collaborative learning. The curriculum also fosters each student's professional stake in learning. Students are responsible for small group preparation and attendance. Evaluations of courses and faculty are also part of students' professional commitment.


* Prologue: an introduction to essential anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, molecular and cell biology, epidemiology, social and behavioral science, and pharmacology.

* Major Organ Systems: an integrated approach to investigating the cardiovascular, pulmonary, and renal systems.

* Metabolism & Nutrition (M & N): an investigation of the gastrointestinal system, endocrinology, and metabolic issues, with additional emphasis on prevention of disorders in these areas and on counseling for nutritional health.

* Brain, Mind & Behavior (BMB): a comprehensive overview of general principles in neuroscience, neurology, and psychiatry.


* Infection, Inflammation & Immunity (I-3) : the first block of the second-year, covering microbiology, immunology, and infectious disease as well as public and international health issues.

* Cancer: Bench to Bedside (CBB): an in-depth and innovative look at the pathology and therapy of major human cancers, and a broad exploration of relevant disciplines, including epidemiology, genetics, hematology, culture, behavioral sciences, ethics, and complementary and alternative medicine.

* Life Cycle: a study of the human developmental sequence, considering special topics in childhood and adolescent medicine, men's and women's health, and aging.

* Integration & Consolidation (I & C) : the final step of the Essential Core, enabling students to review and integrate concepts through case-based study. This block also reinforces differential diagnosis skills and provides a structure to prepare and review for the Board exam.


* Foundations of Patient Care (FPC): a block that spans the entire Essential Core, covering clinical skills, professional development, and clinical reasoning.

* Clinical Interlude: a three-day immersion in the hospital setting that provides students their first in-patient experience. This is part of Foundations of Patient Care Year I and takes place the three days before winter break.


The third and fourth years offer significant in-patient and ambulatory clinical experiences. Required third-year core clerkships are divided into integrated blocks of eight weeks each: Family and Community Medicine and Surgical Subspecialties, Medicine, Neurology and Psychiatry, Ob/Gyn, Pediatrics, Surgery. Clerkships are available at a variety of different sites and regions in San Francisco and beyond.
In addition to the clerkships, students gain clinical experience through volunteer work at any number of UCSF-affiliated projects. There are four week-long breaks between some of the clerkship blocks. During these “intersessions,” third-year students return to the classroom to engage in discussions of ethics, evidence-based medicine, and health policy. Students also re-visit basic science topics during these periods to refresh their knowledge.

During the fourth year, as students begin to focus on the specialties that most capture their interest, they choose from a variety of electives, which may include research or international work in addition to advanced clinical rotations.

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