School of MedicineProfessional Program
The mission of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine is to improve the health and well-being of individuals and populations through cutting-edge biomedical research, innovative educational programs in medicine and biomedical science, and leadership in academic medicine. We strive to implement this mission with the highest professional and ethical standards, in a culture of diversity and inclusiveness, and in an environment that enables each individual to develop to his or her fullest potential.
UPSOM has a well-developed curricular infrastructure that combines a lecture- and problem-based curriculum with early and in-depth clinical experiences and an integrated organ systems approach to the preclinical sciences. The clinical years are characterized by an integrated clerkship structure and an emphasis on student flexibility.
The current UPSOM curriculum was implemented in 2004 and features active, participatory learning; a problem-based approach; an early introduction to the patient and the community; and the integration of a rigorous foundation in basic and clinical biomedical sciences with the social and behavioral aspects of medicine. Key subject matter is longitudinally integrated throughout the curriculum, building upon a foundation of prior learning while providing a level-appropriate and well-synchronized introduction of new content.
Scheduled instructional time in the first two years of the curriculum is apportioned approximately as one-third lecture; one-third small group learning (much of which is problem-based learning; the remainder includes demonstrations, faculty-directed problem-solving exercises, skill-practice sessions, and other activities); and one-third activities (which includes observation of and appropriate participation in patient care, community-site visits, experiences with standardized patients, high-fidelity simulations, laboratory exercises, and other activities). Student achievement of course objectives is supported by a host of technologies, including the online curriculum and podcasts. A longitudinal performance-based assessment program provides formative support as students hone their clinical skills.
The patient focus of the UPSOM curriculum begins on day one, in the Introduction to Being a Physician course. Students interview patients about their experience of illness and experiences with their physicians, and they visit community settings to develop an understanding of their roles as medical professionals. Medical interviewing and physical examination courses follow, along with exercises examining the many facets of physician life—in society, ethical and legal settings, and at the patient bedside.
Throughout the first two years, students apply their new skills in local practices and hospitals one afternoon per week. The Basic Science block runs through three-fourths of the first year and provides language and concepts that underlie the scientific basis of medical practice. Organ Systems block courses integrate physiology, pathophysiology, pharmacology, and introduction to medicine with concurrent courses in the Introduction to Patient Care and Patient, Physician and Society blocks. Weekly discussions, patient interviews, and examination of hospitalized patients reinforce essential clinical skills.
The third-year curriculum consists of ten required clerkships. They are designed to optimize the balance between out-of-hospital and inpatient learning opportunities, eliminate unintentional curriculum redundancy, and optimize opportunities for student-designed curricula in the junior and senior years. The third year is punctuated by three one-week clinical focus courses.
Every student engages in a mentored scholarly project conducted longitudinally throughout the four-year curriculum. Completion and presentation of the scholarly project is due in the spring of the senior year and is a requirement for graduation. Students pursue their projects through several program options, which may include areas of specialization . An innovative system of Web-based learning portfolios facilitates learner-mentor communication and enriches the possibilities for collaboration within and beyond the University.
Many key topics are integrated throughout the curriculum as longitudinal themes. These topics include communication skills; ambulatory medicine; critical thinking skills; geriatric medicine;
evidence-based medicine; interprofessional education and team communications; palliative care;
population medicine and public health; prevention; professionalism; public health preparedness; and substance abuse.
The information above details the school's MD program. For information on the school's Master of Science and doctoral programs, return to the table of contents.
- Office of Admissions and Financial Aid
- 518 Scaife Hall
- 3550 Terrace Street
- Pittsburgh, PA 15261
- Fax: 412-648-8768
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The admissions process is described in great detail on the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid Web site.
The by-laws of the Admissions Committee specifically state the school’s criteria for selecting students for admissions. The by-laws are reviewed and updated at the year-end business meeting of the UPSOM Admissions Committee.
Financial aid for medical students is available in the form of scholarships, need-based grants, and loans (federal, private, and institutional resources). For maximum consideration of all resources, students should complete the “Need Access Application” and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). These applications should include the student’s information, his/her spouse’s information (if applicable), and his/her parents’ information. Signed copies of federal tax returns (for student/spouse and parents) must be provided to the financial aid office. Aid is awarded on the basis of financial need, as determined from the financial aid applications and supporting documentation.
Newly admitted students should apply no later than either one month after acceptance or by April 1 to ensure that an award letter is provided prior to the national decision date of April 30th.
Upperclassman should provide all required information no later than April 16. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) should be submitted prior to April 1 to ensure results are available prior to the deadline.
Students who do not wish to provide parental information are still considered for Federal Stafford loans, Federal Graduate PLUS loans, and private loans; these students should complete the FAFSA and provide a signed copy of their federal tax return.
The financial aid process is described in detail on the Office of Financial Aid’s website.
The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine offers a centrally governed, integrated, interdisciplinary curriculum that emphasizes problem solving and self-directed learning. The academic year is in session between 10 and 12 months, depending on the level of study. Academic calendars specific to each year can be found on the Office of Medical Education's Web site. The first three years is a set curriculum and the fourth year is a combination of both set and elective offerings. To be considered to be making satisfactory academic progress, the student must complete the first two years of the curriculum by the end of the third year after initial enrollment. The full text of the guidelines for student promotion can be found in the medical student handbook on the Office of Student Affairs Web site. Students are governed by an Honor Code, which seeks to support and sustain respect for each other as well as for patients. The full text of the Honor Code can be found in the student handbook.
The UPSOM makes use of a 2 tiered grading system.
The first two years of the curriculum are graded as Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory.
The last two years are graded using a five point narrative grading system that includes Honors, High Satisfactory, Satisfactory, Low Satisfactory and Unsatisfactory grades.
To receive the MD degree, students must:
1. Successfully complete curricular requirements for each of the four years.
First year: Courses in basic science including medical anatomy, cellular and pathologic basis of disease, human genetics, fuel metabolism, immunology in health and disease, medical microbiology; organ systems including pharmacology, neuroscience, introduction to psychiatry; scientific reasoning in medicine including introduction to medical decision making and methods and logic in medicine; patient, physician and society courses including introduction to being a physician; ethics, law, and professionalism, behavioral medicine, and the introduction to patient care courses.
Second year: Course work in organ systems including body fluid homeostasis, digestion and nutrition, hematology, endocrine, reproductive and developmental biology, skin and musculoskeletal diseases, pharmacology, and integrated case studies; methods and logic in medicine, population health, and introduction to patient care courses.
Third year: Rotations in inpatient medicine; family medicine; inpatient pediatrics; obstetrics and gynecology; clinical neurosciences (psychiatry and neurology); surgery and anesthesiology; and outpatient experiences in pediatrics; medicine; emergency medicine; otolaryngology; and ophthalmology. The third and fourth year schedule is viewed as a continuum and designed so students may enroll in clinical or research electives at any time during the third or fourth years.
Fourth year: An acting internship in either internal medicine, pediatrics, family medicine or surgery; four weeks of an integrated life science course of the student’s selection; and eight to nine months of clinical and/or research elective experiences.
2. Pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination, both Steps 1 and 2 (CK and CS).
3. Meet accepted standards of professional conduct and emotional stability.
In addition to the MD program, the UPSOM offers a structured MD/PhD dual degree program, an MD/MA in Bioethics, a certificate program in Clinical Research, and a five--year non-degree-- granting program for physician-scientists.
The Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) offers exceptionally talented individuals the opportunity to undertake a medical scientist training program tailored to their specific research interest. The primary directive is to create future biomedical investigators by providing the highest quality graduate medical training. This program offers a range of special services and opportunities to facilitate the completion of a dual degree (MD/PhD). In addition to efficiency, the close integration of clinical and basic science training better mirrors the future careers of biomedical scientists. Information regarding the application process can be found on the MSTP Web site.
The MSTP program has many unique aspects of the curriculum, designed to integrate MSTP education through courses such as molecular medicine, the research basis of medical knowledge, professional development, ethics, and longitudinal clinical clerkships. MSTP students begin training to become physician-scientists from the very first week, and are well advised about possible courses and research opportunities. Description of additional MSTP courses are available on the MSTP web
site under Additional Courses
Given the breadth of research and clinical programs available in the MSTP, it is impossible to define a single path to the combined degree. Nevertheless, the timeline available on the program’s Web site is an example of the efficiency gained by a well-integrated program.
Students enrolled in the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine may elect to earn the Master’s Degree in Bioethics in conjunction with their medical degree. This allows the MA degree to be earned in an accelerated program, taking a year away from the MD program, usually between the second and third years of medical school. During this year, the student will follow the University calendar for the fall and spring terms. The calendar is available at the Office of the University Registrar’s Web site. For additional information about the MD/MA degree consult the program’s Web site.
A structured five--year degree program for eligible Clinical Scientist Training Program (CSTP) scholarship recipients. This program allows students to pursue a Master of Science in Clinical Research during a one year leave of absence from medical school, typically this is taken between years three and four before returning to complete their MD degree. The majority of the Master of Science degree requirements are met during this year. A detailed curricular calendar that contains the degree requirements can be found on the program’s Web site. For additional information, consult the program’s Web site.
PSTP (non-degree program)
The Physician Scientist Training Program (PSTP) at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine is a five-year tuition assistance non-degree granting program through which students with a strong research interest and background can start to build careers as physician scientists. The program involves paid research rotations during the summer before and after the first year of medical school, and a paid research year between the second and third years of medical school. The PSTP program has an enrichment curriculum of research-oriented classes for its participants and provides close career mentoring and research mentoring throughout. Medical school tuition is partially covered while students matriculate through the program. Throughout the program, students will follow the medical school calendar for the fall and spring terms. The calendar is available at the Office of Medical Education's Web site. For more information consult the program’s Web site.