MD Program Year 1

Scientific Trunk

The science behind the medicine.

The First Step

The Scientific Trunk is your M1 preclinical year, the starting point in a journey of continuous learning. Integrating foundational science and related clinical experiences simulates what you will do throughout doctorhood. Regular practice now cements a valuable lifelong habit while building your knowledge and skill base. Pass/fail grading (including Second Chance quizzing) gives you some breathing room to figure it all out.

My favorite part of the curriculum so far is the myriad classes and clinical opportunities that we get to experience as first-year medical students. While the roots of our education are grounded in the organ-based scientific knowledge necessary to becoming a good physician, Michigan recognizes that medicine is an art. Classes like leadership, ICS-I, IPE and ethics all give us opportunities to gain other essential experiences."

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The Main Features of the Scientific Trunk

  • Launch orientation featuring M-Home house sorting and Doctoring small group assignments
  • Foundational courses in molecular/biological sciences, evidence-based care, host defense, physical diagnostics and therapeutics, infection, hematology and immunopathology, along with blocks of fused normal/abnormal vital functions
  • Pre-recorded asynchronous lectures of science content, increasing student flexibility and accessibility
  • In-person sessions focusing on active learning when students interact with the material and faculty facilitator
  • Chief Concern Course and Interprofessional Collaborative Skills-Introduction
  • Development of patient care and information management skills throughout the year
  • Additional longitudinal elements that start at this stage

Foundations of Medicine Blocks

The Foundations of Medicine courses make up three of the six blocks during the Scientific Trunk and introduce students to:

  • Biochemical, cellular and molecular process of the organ systems
  • Physical diagnostics and therapeutics
  • Immune system and its primary targets
Doctors in surgery wearing masks looking down at patient

Vital Function Blocks

The three Vital Functions blocks consolidate the foundational material for related organ systems with both normal and abnormal physiology presented at the same time. Combined with related clinical cases, anatomy and histology, this makes for deeply integrated content that reinforces what you learn. Subjects include:

  • Circulation, respiration and filtration
  • Nutrition, absorption, regulation and reproduction
  • Cognition, movement, sensation and behavior

By the end of the Scientific Trunk, you will have gained a comprehensive skill set that prepares you for expanded clinical time in the Clinical Trunk rotations.

Learning medicine is a lifelong journey; you are never “done”, but continually revisit, refine and expand your knowledge. In the first year you will develop a solid foundation in the basic, clinical and health system sciences that you will subsequently build on during your clinical years."

Seetha U. Monrad
MD, Associate Dean for Medical Student Education and Clinical Professor of Internal Medicine and Learning Health Sciences
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At a Glance
Scientific Trunk diagram
Scientific Trunk Fused GI diagram