Wood, Dr. Isaac K.
Senior Associate Dean for Medical Education and Student Affairs
The program for the M.D. degree is divided into four phases, each of one year’s duration. Medicine I, occupying the first year (mid-August to early June), emphasizes normal human structure, function, growth and development. Medicine II, occupying the second year (August to May), stresses pathological conditions. Medicine III occupies the third year (July to July) and consists of clinical education and training. Medicine IV, lasting from August to mid-May, consists of approximately one-fourth required clinical education and training with the remainder open for electives at the Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center and at approved medical schools elsewhere in the U.S. and abroad. Elective opportunities also are offered in M-I and M-II.
Registration in courses offered by the School of Medicine is restricted to students enrolled in the School of Medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University.
The curriculum is viewed as a dynamic and evolving entity and course titles, content or duration of emphasis may be subject to modification for the sake of improving the learning experience.
Each course in M-I and M-II is designed and implemented by a faculty committee and each phase of the curriculum is supervised by a faculty coordinator.
The first year of medical school, from mid-August to early June, focuses on the normal human structure, function, growth and development.
Total courses: 11
The second year, from early August to late May, emphasizes the pathologic manifestations in the treatment of diseases. All students participate in the following courses:
Total courses: 15
During the third year, students receive clinical training by rotating through the various hospitals and ambulatory services. This rich clinical experience is supplemented by didactic presentations on practice-related topics. All students participate in the following clerkships:
Total required rotations: 8
M-IV is an elective year, with more than 200 electives offered. Each elective is four weeks long.
The School of Medicine, in an effort to best serve the needs and goals of the individual student, offers M-IV students the option of choosing electives during the majority of their senior year. The elective curriculum has been arranged primarily to allow those students who have definite goals to pursue them logically without adherence to a required curriculum. At the same time, it allows those who have not yet defined their goals an adequate assortment of electives with which to explore career options. Where standard elective choices seem too limiting, students are encouraged to approach individual faculty members relative to the development of unique courses that more closely approach individual needs. A member of the M-IV Advisory Committee is available to advise each student and to approve each students program.
The year is divided into nine four-week periods. The required rotations, which must be served at the MCV Campus or an affiliated institution such as Inova-Fairfax Hospital or the McGuire VA Medical Center, are an acting internship and an emergent care selective in anesthesia, emergency medicine or one of the intensive care units. All students are required to take the year-end Update of Basic Sciences and Clinical Medicine course.
A description of the creation of the M-IV schedule, including Electives Guidelines and the policy for Visiting Students is presented in the Senior Electives Catalog section of the School of Medicine website.
All students are required to take the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination Step 1 prior to the start of the M-III year. Students are required to pass Step 1 for promotion to the M-IV year. If a student fails Step 1, he or she will be allowed to complete the current M-III clerkship and be required to take time off during the M-III year in an elective status to study for and retake the exam. The time off will be individualized for each student after discussion with the curriculum office and approval by the Promotions Committee. Failing to pass the exam after three attempts will result in dismissal.
All students are required to take U.S. Medical Licensing Examination Step 2 CK and CS for the first time after completion of their M-III year or by Dec. 1. Students are required to pass USMLE Step 2 CK and CS for graduation. Failure to pass either examination after three attempts will result in dismissal.
Each student’s progress toward his/her objectives is evaluated by examination in each area of subject matter and by national board examinations at appropriate times. Grades are assigned as honors, high-pass, pass, marginal or fail. Students receiving marginal or fail grades are counseled. All students are assigned a faculty adviser, available to the student throughout the four years of study.
Students who have attained satisfactory grades in M-I and M-II, but who do not pass U.S. Medical Licensing Examination Step 1, must take time off to study the basic medical sciences during the third school year, prior to their repeating the Step 1 examination. These students will use part of their fourth year to complete the segments omitted during the study time. Students must pass USMLE Step 1 to be promoted to the M-IV year.
At the close of each academic year, the Promotions Committee, composed of department chairs, recommends to the dean which students have achieved the objectives of the year and which students are qualified for either promotion or graduation. The Promotions Committee is charged to give careful individual attention to all aspects of student achievement, effectiveness, behavior and attitude. The Promotions Committee shall not recommend for promotion any student who has failed to meet the requirements of the preceding year or who appears unfit for the practice of medicine. In consideration of ones fitness for the practice of medicine and in recognition of the critical role of professionalism in being an effective physician, the Promotions Committee shall not recommend for promotion any student who has demonstrated a significant lack of either integrity or professionalism as those concepts are outlined in the School of Medicine Standards of Professional Behavior. When the committee determines by majority vote that a student will not be promoted, it then recommends to the dean remedial activities or dismissal in instances where no remedy is perceived. The dean reviews the recommendations and promptly notifies students that they have been promoted, have to repeat a year, require specific remediation or have been dismissed. A student repeating the year is expected to show significant improvement. The Promotions Committee also will meet each January to review the status of all senior students, all third-year students and M.D./Ph.D. candidates. At this meeting, the committee also will review any other students in serious academic difficulty and may choose to take final action, including dismissal, on such students.
An Appeals Committee of three senior faculty members will hear appeals of dismissals when such are filed in writing within 14 days of the student’s notice of dismissal. A student also may appeal a decision to repeat a year, but such appeals will be reviewed by the Appeals Committee only when it is found that the student will present information not previously available to the Promotions Committee. A student appealing has the right to appear before the Appeals Committee and to have an adviser participate. The dean of the School of Medicine will act upon the recommendation of the Appeals Committee within 14 days of receipt of the committee’s recommendation.
For classes matriculating in 2012 or earlier, the following guidelines will apply. It should be noted that these only serve as guidelines for the Promotions Committee which may recommend other remediation or dismissal:
M1/M2: If a student does not achieve competency in one course, he/she will be required to take a repeat examination. If the student does not achieve competency on the repeat examination, he/she will be required to repeat the year and pass all courses previously taken. If the student passes the examination, he/she will be promoted to the next year.
If a student does not achieve competencies in two courses, he/she will be required to take a repeat examination in each course. If the student does not pass both examinations, he/she will be required to repeat the year and pass all courses previously taken. If the student passes both examinations, he/she will be promoted to the next year.
If a student does not achieve competencies in three courses, he/she will be required to repeat the year and pass all courses previously taken. If a student does not achieve competency in four courses, he/she will be dismissed.
M3: If a student earns a less than passing grade in a core clinical clerkship, his or her file will be reviewed in the Promotions Committee process. If a student has a fail in a clerkship, the student is required to repeat the entire clerkship in his/her fourth year. If the student has three less-than-passing grades on the first attempt in core clinical clerkships, the student is required to repeat the third year. A student repeating the entire year is expected to pass all clerkships taken previously or be immediately dismissed. A marginal grade is not a passing grade. If a student has four less-than-passing grades in core clinical clerkships, he or she may be dismissed. Students are required to pass USMLE Step 1 for promotion to the advanced clinical phase.
M4: A student with one grade of Marginal in a non-required M4 elective may be allowed to graduate without remediation. A grade of Fail in any elective or a grade of Marginal in a required experience (e.g., an acting internship or urgent care elective) must be remediated. Appropriate remediation is determined by the elective director in consultation with the Senior Associate Dean for Medical Education and Student Affairs.
Students may appeal decisions of dismissal, except for dismissals by the Honor Council (which should be appealed through the appropriate Judicial Affairs procedures). Students also may appeal decisions to repeat a year/semester or to not be graduated. Such appeals will be heard by the Appeals Committee. The Appeals Committee shall consist of three faculty members, elected by the faculty with staggered terms. One of those members shall be designated by the dean as the chair. A student will be granted an appeal hearing only if two senior faculty members selected by the dean agree that any of these situations occurred:
The Appeals Committee will send its findings and recommendation and the recorded vote to the dean of the School of Medicine who must act upon the recommendation within 14 calendar days. The dean’s decision is final and may not be appealed. Students who have been dismissed may reapply to medical school as a matriculating student.
Students may withdraw after meeting with the senior associate dean for medical education and submitting a letter requesting withdrawal.
The degree of Doctor of Medicine will be conferred by VCU upon candidates who, in the opinion of the medical faculty, have:
It is the policy of the School of Medicine that candidates must be present at commencement exercises unless excused by the dean.