Medical School Curriculum

Let's take a look at medical school curriculum by starting off with medical school grades because it certainly will affect your overall experience in school.

Did you know if you attend a school that uses A/B/C/D/F grading you're most likely going to be in a very competitive academic environment that is cutthroat?

All because everyone is competing for top grades which will make a difference when it comes to securing the best medical residency upon graduating from medical school.

Most medical schools whether they say it or not do rank their medical students. You'll be ranked based on your academic performance and the residency directors will also have access to the class rank when they're deciding who to invite for a residency interview.

This means both you the medical student and the residency director will know exactly where you fall in the class rank.

Obviously you'll strive to land within the top 20% of your medical school class and shame on you if you're in the bottom 20% but remember all you have to do is graduate to become a doctor.

Don't aim for a competitive medical school speciality with a low class rank.

Medical School Grading Intervals

Your medical school curriculum will need an objective way to measure your academic performance and here is a listing of grading rubrics that you may see in medical school:

  • 2 Intervals = Pass/Fail
  • 3 Intervals = Honors/Pass/Fail
  • 4 Intervals = Honors/High Pass/Pass/Fail (or A,B,C,F)
  • 5 Intervals = Honors/High Pass/Pass/Low Pass/Fail (or A,B,C,D,F)

I went ahead and listed them from least to most competitive. Basically, if you don't want to work with your medical school classmates then attend a medical school that uses a 5 point interval grading system for their medical school curriculum.

I'm sorry to report that there aren't any 1 interval grading systems because depending on the luck of the draw either everyone passes or everyone fails.

Teaching Formats

The first two years of medical school curriculum are generally taught using the traditional lecture format, the problem-based learning (PBL) style or a hybrid of these.

The traditional format is comparable to how you were taught in undergraduate courses. You went to lecture and the professor told you the important concepts and facts.

As a student you would then have to go home and assimilate all of this information to pass the upcoming exam.

The problem-based learning (PBL) model is more of a tutorial, where you meet in a small group with your professor. A clinical problem or scenario is presented to the group and they will then decide what are the relevant learning objectives.

The group will disperse and at their next meeting (as a group) you will review the case with a firm understanding of the issues. You will learn by doing independent research; speaking with knowledgeable sources; and fact finding at the library.

I would say there is one main difference to the two approaches. The lecture format is for students who want a clear objective of what they need to know while, PBL is for students who like interaction and finding answers on their own.

Dean's Letter for Residency Applications

The Medical School Performance Evaluation, also known as the Dean's letter is a comprehensive summary of your overall performance. You should be aware, that although you may not be receiving a letter grade you still have a duty to excel in your courses and clerkships.

After receiving your degree you will need to gain admission to a residency program and residency directors will review your performance to determine your fitness for their program and/or specialty.


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