Osteopathic medicine is a comprehensive approach to health care. Its essence lies in examining and treating the whole person, not just the symptoms. These relationships musculoskeletal system to other organ systems, body to mind, physician to patient, patient to family, family to community-play a unique role in wellness and illness, prevention and recovery.
As a PCOM student, you are strongly encouraged to gain insight into your patients' health needs by looking beyond the person in front of you and discovering the social and economic factors that impact him or her. From the first day of medical school, we emphasize the interpersonal context in which medicine will be practiced. We call our program in osteopathic primary patient care skills "Doctors from Day One."
First- and second-year students see how their academic work and problem-solving principles apply to clinical practice through interaction with family physicians. This part of your education introduces you to a life-long learning process of becoming a well-trained and caring physician. You will practice clinical skills with "patient-actors" in the innovative "Standardized Patient Program." In a suite of exam rooms and offices called the Clinical Learning and Assessment Center, you will learn how to present yourself to patients and how to improve diagnostic and communication skills. Professional actors assume the roles of patients with specific medical histories. As a student, you interview the "patient," develop a history and physical examination profile and suggest a diagnosis. Each session is videotaped, and student performance is evaluated by a faculty member and reviewed with the student.
The primary patient care skills are complemented by our integrated approach to biomedical knowledge that introduces both basic and clinical sciences in your first two years. By learning these subject in tandem, rather than one followed by the other, the abstraction of science becomes tangible by its application in practice. The study of anatomy and physiology, for example, is paired with learning the principles of physical examination and osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM).
We use a variety of methods to present this information: problem-oriented cases, lectures, laboratory study, small group conferences, student-centered study and projects, medical informatics instruction and selected symposia. Even though we are a large medical school, we provide plenty of opportunity for one-on-one interaction between students and teachers.
Since medicine is practiced within a social context, the curriculum includes humanities-oriented programs, such as medical ethics, human sexuality, medical law and medical economics. Every doctor must address these topics, which broaden your understanding of changing attitudes and contemporary health care issues.
Hands-on Medicine at PCOM's Pennsylvania Healthcare Centers
All students spend four months in PCOM's Community Healthcare Centers
, which provide health care to medically underserved communities. You will spend two months in our rural center and two months in an inner-city center. At these sites you will be introduced to the realities of patient care in underserved communities.
In your third and fourth years, you will be exposed to a broad scope of medical problems, gradually assuming more responsibility under the direction of experienced physicians. Through participation in rounds, lectures, conferences, morning reports and case presentations, you develop skills in history-taking, physical examination, differential diagnosis, and invasive and non-invasive procedures. While some clerkships are assigned and required, students may elect to pursue special interests at other institutions in Philadelphia or elsewhere. Some students have chosen studies in India, Israel, Africa, Appalachia and Indian Health Service sites in the United States. One student completed an aerospace medicine clerkship program as an elective rotation. Others have pursued special interests through competitive fellowships and research.