University of Vermont

College of Medicine

Medical Student Admissions

Course Descriptions


The week-long orientation includes presentations to the full class, interactive internet based instruction, small group sessions mentored by either faculty or more senior students, and field experiences in the community. Student centered experiences are enhanced by assessment with feedback, thoughtful orientation with key contacts identified, and development of what will become each student's personal portfolio.

Activities are organized into modules to support four key concepts:

  • Getting settled in the community
  • Healthy Lifestyles
  • Academic Success
  • Collaborative team building

Foundations of Medicine

This course introduces basic principles, concepts, and methods that are foundational to the study and practice of medicine, drawing from disciplines including biochemistry, cell biology, epidemiology, ethics, genetics, pharmacology, and public health. Students learn to apply basic scientific principles and develop frameworks for clinical decision-making and the practice of evidence-based medicine during course activities that include team-based learning, small- and large-group discussions, interactive modules, lectures, and clinical skills practice with standardized patients. The integrated, interdisciplinary organization of the course highlights clinical, ethical, and public health implications of basic medical sciences. Interactive sessions also include guided practice with a variety of learning strategies to help students develop effective approaches that will prepare them for success in their ongoing studies. (6 weeks)

Professionalism, Communication and Reflection

The purpose of this course is to foster the development of competent professionals, leaders, and life-long learners who share, interpret, and transfer medical school experiences and knowledge into effective actions to better themselves and others. This course addresses medical leadership and professionalism through weekly small group sessions that meet throughout the first year of the Foundations Level. It supports professional development through collaborative group learning activities linking personal experience, cultural awareness, leadership topics, and concurrent VIC course content. Learning activities also include periodic large group presentations and regular assignments that will include reading, written reflection, portfolio development, and projects.

Human Structure and Function

This course addresses the fundamentals of the composition of the human body and how it performs in the healthy state. This is an integrated study of microscopic and gross anatomy, physiology, basic imaging principles, embryology and clinical skills. The course includes traditional pedagogical methods with innovative and unique computer based lessons and small group learning. (12 weeks)

Attacks and Defenses

Attacks and Defenses is the bridge course between Fundamentals and Systems Integration courses. It is designed to integrate studies in the principles of hematology, immunology, microbiology, toxicology, pathology, pharmacology, and neoplasia. Its goal is to ensure that students understand the vocabulary, principles, and pathophysiology of disciplines that are not necessarily organ based. Students will be introduced to advanced history taking skills and clinical problem solving skills. Instructional methods include lectures, weekly laboratories and small group exercises, and standardized patient exercises. (6 weeks)

Nutrition, Metabolism and the Gastrointestinal System in Health and Disease

This course organizes studies in nutrition, gastrointestinal systems, organ system metabolism and endocrine system through lessons that integrate cell metabolism, normal and pathologic anatomy, pharmacology, physiology, pathophysiology and the physical examination and related interviewing, diagnostic testing and imaging. Learning is facilitated through faculty lectures, computer based tutorials, assigned readings, small group case discussions and workshops for problem solving and skills development. Clinical correlations reinforce the lessons of the community preceptorships.

Neural Science

This course is designed to organize study of the nervous and behavioral system through lessons that integrate cellular and systems neurobiology, neuroanatomy, neuropharmacology, neurophysiology and pathophysiology, psychopathology, and the neurologic and mental status examinations and related interviewing, diagnostic testing and imaging. Several instructional methods support learning in this course, including lecture, online independent study modules, readings from a variety of sources, laboratory sessions, physical examination and interviewing skills sessions, and case discussions prepared by students. Case discussions contain significant unique content and focus on symptoms, differential diagnosis, pathologic anatomy and pathophysiology, genetics, ethics, pharmacology and clinical imaging.

Public Health Projects

During the second year of the Foundations Level, groups apply their group leadership and professional and team skills to a public health project. Public health projects are designed to teach students about public health and the health issues that face our communities, as they work side by side with the groups, organizations,and individuals in these settings. These projects begin to develop the background in population-based medicine and prevention a health care professional needs to fully address the range of health issues that impact people of all ages, both now and in the future. Public health projects will be carried out in Vermont communities and enable students to apply the principles and science of public health to these needs in the community.


Connections organizes the study of skin, connective tissue, and the musculoskeletal system through lessons that integrate cell metabolism, endocrinology, normal and pathologic anatomy, pharmacology, physiology, pathophysiology and the physical examination and related interviewing, diagnostic testing and imaging. It is a novel course that will introduce students to the study of the orthopedics, rheumatology and dermatology during the basic sciences. (2 weeks)

Cardiovascular, Respiratory, and Renal Systems

This course organizes studies in the cardiovascular,lymphatic, respiratory, renal, and urinary systems through lessons that integrate cell metabolism, endocrinology, normal and pathologic anatomy, pharmacology, physiology, pathophysiology and the physical examination and related interviewing, diagnostic testing and imaging.


Generations organizes studies in reproduction and development including embryology, aging and death through lessons that integrate cell metabolism, endocrinology, normal and pathologic anatomy, pharmacology, physiology, pathophysiology, the physical examination and related interviewing, diagnostic testing and imaging. This course examines variations in presentation of illness, metabolism and etiology across cultures and ages. The course is organized into five Epochs that investigate relevant topic across the life cycle. In addition, four themes run longitudinally through the course, including those related to families and family dynamics, death and dying, disability, and sexuality and sexual health.


The Convergence course uses problem based learning to reinforce topics covered in previous courses and teaches clinical problem solving skills in preparation for the students' transition into their clerkship rotation schedules. The course format will include the presentation of cases to be discussed and formulated within the context of small group settings.

Doctoring in Vermont

Doctoring in Vermont is a course with both a spring (March-June) and fall (September-December) session. Each session consists of 6 afternoons (total of 12 sessions for the course) spent in the office of an assigned community preceptor recruited from among the primary care physician community within a one-hour drive of Burlington. Students travel to their preceptor's office and practice examination and interviewing skills under direct supervision. In the fall students must accomplish two "complete" history and physical examinations, one with their preceptor and one with a standardized patient at the campus Assessment Center.

Level 2 - Clinical Clerkship

The Clerkship Year is composed of three 15 week segments of departmentally based clinical experience and didactic programs, three 1-week blocks of Bridge Clerkship, and a final performance examination. (Total = 48 weeks of required clerkships, 1 week of comprehensive exams, and 4 weeks vacation)

The Bridge Clerkship

This year is designed to support professional growth and extend the learning of Foundations competencies into clinical applications and decision- making. With a focus on genetics, ethics, epidemiology, nutrition, and professionalism, each of the nine themes of VIC weaves throughout the Bridges. The Bridge Clerkship is dispersed throughout the Clinical Clerkship year in a series of three Core Bridge intersessions and a series of one to two day sessions that are integrated within each 15 week block of clinical clerkships. Bridge sessions throughout the clerkship year total six weeks of instructional activity. Performance is graded Pass/Fail and is evaluated by a combination of peer and faculty facilitators during discussion and skills sessions. In addition, the competencies expected to develop during the Bridge Clerkship are assessed in a comprehensive clinical performance exam that follows the clinical clerkship year.

Level 3 - Advanced Integration

The Advanced Integration level comprises required activities that enhance the student's clinical skill and knowledge of basic and clinical science, and elective activities that allow the student to shape their own professional development.

Acting Internship

Each student is required to complete two months of Acting Internships in either The University of Vermont Medical Center, in Burlington or Maine Medical Center, in Portland. One of these must be in Internal Medicine. Each student will be scheduled for a senior performance examination to measure expected competency in patient management at a pre-residency level.

Acting Internship in Internal Medicine

The purpose of this Acting Internship in Internal Medicine is to consolidate and refine the medical knowledge and clinical skills at a level of competency necessary to deliver comprehensive care to medical inpatients. Through increased responsibility in the evaluation and management of patients and through closely supervised direct patient care experiences, students are expected to attain a level of competence and self confidence sufficient to be prepared for entering their first post-graduate year of residency.

Emergency Medicine Selective

A one month Emergency Medicine requirement may be completed in any approved setting throughout the country. The purpose of the rotation is to integrate the practice of medicine in a situation where the student is the first provider to see the patient, forms working differential and treatment plan, and presents each patient to the attending on every patient. Online modules developed by the University of Vermont College of Medicine supplement the clinical experience and ensure consistent development of core knowledge for all students.

Teaching Requirement/Scholarly Project

The purpose of the Teaching Requirement/Scholarly Project is to provide students with basic skills in teaching and evaluation in a "coached" environment, to revisit foundation sciences by teaching or scholarly activity and to reinforce longitudinal integration in the VIC by revisiting foundation sciences with clinical perspective. Students may fulfill the practicum experience in one of two ways: the Teaching Requirement or a Scholarly Project. The Teaching Requirement entails one month continuous participation as a teaching assistant in the VIC foundations courses. Duties could include small group facilitation, laboratory teaching, tutoring and leading review sessions, developing on-line teaching materials, and preparing assessment and other teaching materials. Students will attend two teaching workshops during the month, the first providing specific instruction tailored to their teaching duties, the second on assessment and feedback.

The purpose of the Scholarly Project is to encourage the development of students as physician-scholars by gaining an understanding of the processes and methods involved in scientific inquiry. A scholarly project polishes inquiry, analytical, and communication skills. It solidifies the foundation for lifelong learning by providing a background against which critical evaluation of data can be carried out. The research project may be in the basic or clinical sciences.

Surgery Subspecialty

Students complete two separate two-week surgery subspecialty rotations.

Last modified May 01 2015 11:04 AM