Available courses

This course acquaints incoming medical students with physicians who work in the clinical and academic environment. Students have the opportunity to observe how these physicians from a variety of disciplines apply their communication and clinical skills to patient care. The focus is on learning how health problems affect patients and their families, and the role a physician can play in modifying that effect.

The goals of the course are to encourage new medical students to:

  1. appreciate the importance of effective communication to both patients and physicians.
  2. understand the importance of patient and physician factors and how these affect the   treatment of a disease.
  3. describe the role physicians can play in fostering community health.
  4. appreciate that the practice of medicine is a lifelong learning process, with continuing refinement of skill in procedures and patient communication.
  5. learn about the experience of illness and medical treatment from the viewpoint of patients and their families, patient must be understood in the context of their lives.
  6. develop an undertstanding of the psychological issues involved in being diagnosed with a chronic illness.

Students also receive an introduction to the Health Sciences Library System. The goals of this introduction are that students should be able to

  1. formulate questions and identify information sources required for the medical decision-making process;
  2. retrieve relevant, authoritative information through identification and optimal use of informational resources;
  3. understand the range of information sources and how each can provide unique information to aid in problem solving and decision-making.
The 32 faculty are from 11 medical school departments (Anesthesiology; Cell Biology and Physiology; Emergency Medicine; Family Medicine; Medicine; Neurobiology; Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences; Pediatrics; Pharmacology; Psychiatry; and Surgery) and from the Graduate School of Public Health and the Health Sciences Library System.

Educational Methods


LecturesCommunity encounterPatient interviewPanel discussion
Patient presentationsSmall group sessionCase-based, small-group workshopsrBook/essay discussions


Curricular Themes

Access to quality health services, Breast cancer, Chronic disease (Cystic fibrosis/HIV), Communication skills, Community health, End-of-life care, Environmental health, Epidemiology,  Geriatrics, Human development/life cycle, Medical ethics, Medical genetics, Medical jurisprudence, Palliative care, Patient advocacy, Patient health education, Population–based medicine, Public health infrastructure.


Evaluation for this course is based on participation in small group sessions.

Grading: This course comprises 20% of the grade for Patient, Physician & Society Block, Section 1. Grading for the block is Satisfactory, Unsatisfactory. Grading for this course is Satisfactory, Unsatisfactory.

Faculty Note

Georgia Duker, PhD; Beth Piraino, MD; Kanchan Rao, MD; Jason Rosenstock, MD; and Peter Veldkamp, MD, are recipients of the Kenneth E. Schuit Master Educator Award. In addition, Drs. Duker, Rosenstock, and Veldkamp; Elmer Holzinger, MD; and John Mahoney, MD, are members of the UPSOM Academy of Master Educators.