University Program

At A Glance

Program Goal: To train students to treat disease, promote health, and examine the social and behavioral context of illness in the rapidly changing health care environment of the 21st century.

  • Average annual entering class size: 170 (not including students in the Medical Scientist Training Program)
  • Program duration: 4 years
  • Grading Years One and Two:Pass/Fail
  • Grading Third & Fourth Year: Individual assessment such as Honors, Commendable, Satisfactory, & Unsatisfactory
  • Additional Information: Primary learning styles: about 50% small group, 50% lecture; MD thesis requirement
  • Resulting degree(s): MD (opportunities exist to pursue additional degrees concurrently)
  • Ample opportunity to pursue dual degree options

The University Program (4 year MD) is our oldest and largest MD program. It is designed to train well-rounded physicians built on four cornerstones of clinical mastery, research and scholarship, leadership, and civic professionalism.  Our goal is to challenge students so that they affect positive change through treating disease, promoting health, and understanding the social and behavioral context of illness.

The Curriculum

The Western Reserve2 (WR2) Curriculum was a much needed reform in medical education when we developed it in 2006. Building on our long tradition of forward thinking advancements and medical education "firsts," the redesigned four-year curriculum unites the disciplines of medicine and public health into a single, integrated program that trains students to study the interplay between the biology of disease and the social and behavioral context of illness, between the care of the individual patient and the health of the public, and between clinical medicine and population medicine, to emerge as leaders in science, practice and health care policy.

  • Year 1: Social and behavioral context of health and disease; Foundations of Medicine and Health
  • Year 2: Continuation of Foundations of Medicine and Health and time to prepare for USMLE Step 1
  • Year 3: MD thesis research block or clinical blocks (basic science experiences interwoven) Advanced clinical studies and seminars in medicine and health Electives
  • Year 4: Research (as applicable) Advanced clinical studies and seminars in medicine and health

Download our Year-by-Year Curriculum Overview

Four Themes

The Western Reserve2 Curriculum interweaves four themes to prepare students for the ongoing practice of evidence-based medicine in the rapidly changing health care environment of the 21st century:

  1. Research and scholarship
  2. Clinical mastery
  3. Leadership
  4. Civic professionalism

Students are immersed in a graduate-school atmosphere characterized by flexibility, independent study and collegial interaction with faculty to train physician-scholars who are prepared to not only treat disease and disease states, but to also promote health prevention and maintenance and to examine the social and behavioral context of illness. Scholarship and clinical relevance inform learning processes, and clinical experiences and biomedical and population science are integrated across the four years of the curriculum. The WR2 Curriculum also creates an independent, educational environment where learning is self-directed and where student education primarily occurs through:

  • Faculty facilitated, small-group student-centered discussions (IQ Teams)
  • Large group interactive sessions including didactic sessions that offer a framework (lectures)
  • Interactive anatomy and histology sessions
  • Clinical skills training
  • Early and frequent patient-based activities

Clinical Training

We value a hands-on, real world experience for our students. We aim to provide an experience that allows students to practice the skills they are learning in the classroom through technology and patient interaction.

We are proudly affiliated with four of the best teaching hospitals in the region and the nation: Cleveland Clinic, MetroHealth, VA Northeast Ohio Healthcare System, and University Hospitals. Each of these institutions serves as an extension of our medical research and education by preparing the leading physicians and medical professionals of tomorrow.

The School of Medicine is also linked to the Cleveland community through our Urban Health Initiative and our Student-Run Health Clinic. Both of these programs allow our students to engage with the local underserved population by providing health care and education in the city we call home.

Students also can hone their skills through the Mt. Sinai Skills and Simulation Center and in clinical core rotations. The simulation center is an education and training facility focused on creative, innovative continuous learning for health care providers and professionals at all levels, including our students. In clinical core rotations, students will not only gain experience in many areas of health and disease, but they will also address the roles of basic science, civic professionalism, scholarship and population health in clinical care.

IQ Teams

In most places, "IQ" stands for Intelligence Quotient, a measure of one's intellectual aptitude. But here at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, IQ stands for InQuiry Team, the main learning vehicle in the first two years of the WR2 curriculum.

An Inquiry Team is a small, student-centered learning team that uses elaborate patient cases and discussion to learn, retain, synthesize and integrate knowledge. In an IQ Team, students prepare for and do most of the talking. Each team includes 9-10 students and a faculty member who facilitates discussion, ensures that the learning objectives are addressed and that each member of the group contributes to the learning effort.

IQ Teams meet every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for two hours each day. Students receive two cases on Monday and work on them throughout the week, both in the classroom and on their own; cases have been crafted and tested by internal and external educational experts. At the start of the week, students review these cases with no prior knowledge of what is to be covered, much as a physician would when seeing a new patient. Each case is read one paragraph at a time, after which team members ask pertinent questions. At the end of each session, each IQ Team develops its own learning objectives that will help to generate a clinical framework and to guide their learning over the course of the week. On Friday, the official learning objectives are provided so that students may ascertain how well they were able to derive the key learning points of each case. Learning via IQ groups ensures an experiential, not passive learning experience, and permits the teaching of the basic sciences in the clinical context.

A faculty facilitator presides over each group and ensures that learning stays on track. The facilitator's role is generally not to provide knowledge, but rather to guide the students themselves through the process of discovery. Additionally, the faculty facilitator provides feedback to each student to help improve individual performance.

IQ team learning helps to:

  • Integrate the core concepts of health and disease prevention into the curriculum.
  • Hone the skills of scholarship, critical thinking, and lifelong learning.
  • Encourage an active interchange of ideas between learners and faculty.
  • Immerse the student in a graduate school educational environment characterized by flexibility and high expectations for independent study and self-directed learning.
  • Foster the ability to work in teams, a skill that is critical to success in health care.
  • Translate basic science knowledge into the framework of medicine and health, the clinical context, population-science, and social and behavioral science.

Observe A Sample Case

Below is a video demonstration for how an IQ Team operates using a case related to Diabetes Mellitus. This particular demonstration video is simulating a Wednesday session. The Team read through the case on Monday, developed their Learning Objectives, and conducted research on these objectives. Now they are meeting to discuss the information that they discovered through their studies in relation to this case.

IQ Team Definitions

Check-In: Check-in is an important part of IQ. Sharing what is going on in your life may seem trivial or even a waste of time, but it brings the group together and improves group function.  This is key for forming close teams and it stresses the importance of group dynamics and interactions in the WR2 Curriculum.

Scribe: The team member who is responsible for taking notes on the white board on Mondays while the team is brainstorming Learning Objectives. The Scribe captures key questions and comments from the group on the white board and then works with the group to consolidate these points into Learning Objectives.

Team Leader: The team member who is assigned responsibility for running the logistics of the session. There may be one leader per week or one leader per case. Typically, the leader sets the agenda and helps to keep the team discussion on time and on track.

Learning Objectives:A targeted learning topic or question that will be discussed in the IQ group on either Wednesday or Friday. It is researched by the students after the Monday morning IQ session in preparation for Wednesday or Friday discussion.

Check-Out: Check-out is continuous quality improvement. It is during this time that the function of the team and the teammates is continually improved. Normally it is filled with commentary on yourself, the group as a whole, individual members and the facilitator. Groups can always get better, so there should always be constructive criticism.  Check-out functions as a tool for reflection on group and individual performance and provides a simple metric for measuring group process and functionality.  It serves as a way to team-build through sharing compliments and concerns and because it is objective, should serve as constructive feedback.