MD Program Year 2
A patient in a room with a doctor taking blood pressure

Clinical Trunk

Patient care integrated with science.

Clinical Rotations

In the Clinical Trunk, you will enter the clinical environment in your M2 year as a member of a care team, building on your skills from the Scientific Trunk.

The Clinical Trunk comprises two distinct phases:

Building on your Interprofessional EducationScientific Trunk sequences, Chief Concern and Doctoring courses, you will learn how to function in the clinic. This four-week introductory course focuses on:

  • Health care team function
  • Clinical problem solving with patients
  • Integrated science learning with patient interactions
  • Directed teaching and feedback from Doctoring faculty built around clinical skills

In this phase, you will enter into departmentally organized clinical rotations in seven core clerkships. You will rotate in your teams over the course of 48 weeks, fully prepared with a robust skill set and ready to hit the ground running. The focus is on:

  • Immersion into care teams
  • Skills of patient care and management
  • Pre-Branch exploration

These required core clerkships cover the following departments:

12 weeks each:

  • Internal Medicine
  • Surgery and Applied Sciences (a combination of Surgery, Pathology, Anesthesiology, Anatomy and Radiology)

Six weeks each:

  • OB-GYN
  • Pediatrics

Four weeks each:

  • Family Medicine
  • Neurology
  • Psychiatry


Beginning in 2024-25, our M2 students will receive Honors/High Pass/Pass/Fail grades during core clerkships that are flexible within each grading tier. In other words, students will be graded not against their peers but rather on their own performance in relation to specified criteria within each clerkship. Students will be able to distinguish themselves for their future residency application process while still focusing on learning the material and collaborating with their classmates.

Clinical Trunk Intensive

About half way through the Clinical Trunk, students leave their rotations and come back together over four days to expand their knowledge on the different components within Health System Science and the important roles they play in addressing problems with the current state of our health care in the United States.

USMLE Step 1

The Step 1 exam is taken after the entire Clinical Trunk is complete following a dedicated eight-week study period. The Clinical Trunk naturally segues into the Branches phase of the curriculum with the continuity of clinical rotations integrated with scientific learning.

In the Clinical Trunk, you solidify and apply what you learned during your first year through the direct care of patients. Medical students are critically important members of care teams, and you will find many opportunities to bring your unique skills and passion to improve the outcomes for patients.

Seetha Monrad, MD
Associate Dean for Medical Student Education and Clinical Professor of Internal Medicine and Learning Health Sciences
Staff sitting on floor for picture wearing masks

In addition to the longitudinal elements of the Doctoring CourseLeadership and Paths of Excellence, the Clinical Trunk features:

  • Transition to Clerkships course
  • Patient evaluations in a variety of clinical settings
  • Multidisciplinary clinically driven learning
  • Immersion in department-based clinical care teams on core clinical rotations
  • Science and Practice of Medicine course
At a Glance
Clinical Trunk overview diagram
Clinical Trunk Clerkship Inpatient Peds diagram
Clinical Trunk transition diagram

Please note, these diagrams are provided for reference only. Curriculum details are subject to change.