Phase I

First Year

Course Director: Basic science: Jon Fisher, PhD (Cell Biology)


Block 1: Body Systems & Homeostasis 1 (7 Weeks; 5 Credits) is the first introduction to the patient and healthcare system in the context of routine health maintenance and wellness. During this block, students will begin to learn about the roles and responsibilities of various members of the healthcare team. They will be introduced to the basics of the normal structure and function of the human body, including how to monitor health status using vital signs, general appearance, and laboratory tests. Students will learn the core concepts of the foundational sciences of medicine – genetics, biochemistry, immunology, microbiology, embryology, cell biology, physiology, pharmacology, evidence-based medicine – and how they relate to normal processes in the body. This core will provide the building blocks to distinguish abnormal from normal, and to understand the basis for diagnostic testing and pharmacologic interventions. They will also learn the basics of epidemiology and biostatistics to support effective clinical practice and interpretation of the scientific literature.

Doctoring and Clinical Skills (DoCS) and Medical Colloquia are also included in this block. Students will meet their first patients as a medical student, and practice the basics of communication and gathering history and vital signs during a routine visit.

Students may feel overwhelmed by the large amount of material that needs to be read, digested, and integrated. That’s normal in medical school. There will be discussions on ways of maintaining personal and professional well-being, and help for developing strategies for coping with the stresses of life and school. Additionally, there will be an introduction to quality improvement processes that apply to personal and professional activities in order to become a reflective practitioner. All of the concepts introduced here will be revisited and built upon in subsequent block courses.

Course Directors: Basic science: Richard Tapping, PhD (Immunology), Sherri Yong, MD (Pathology)


Block 2: Pathogenesis (8 Weeks; 6 Credits) is devoted to beginning a lifelong pursuit of understanding the etiology behind disease formation and progression and the current ways to stabilize, mitigate, or even reverse the disease process using Pharmacological and Non-pharmacological interventions. Also, complementary aspects of patient care will be highlighted so that students may holistically treat patients, give any palliative care they and their family may need, and be able to sustain a viable and fruitful practice. As an aside, students will also learn ways to support their well-being, nurture their identity as a physician and a human, and bond with the community that they serve.

The human body is wondrous, beautiful, and complex. In Block I students begin a journey into knowing the human body and how it maintains homeostasis via an integrated network of processes that are tightly regulated and fine-tuned to run optimally and efficiently. Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, they start the process of transforming a strong passion for being a doctor to becoming the physician they envision. This journey can be hard, difficult, overwhelming and even mind-numbing as students process all the information that is needed to master and command in order to assess, care and treat patients with the compassion and competency they deserve. With that being said – THERE IS NOTHING MORE REWARDING than to master all of this in which is needed to command. The student’s effort now exponentially improves the doctors they will become and the care patients will receive.

Course Directors: Basic science: David Pinson, DVM, PhD,  Tracy Soltesz, PhD (Anatomy)


Block 3: Skin, Muscle & Movement (5 weeks; 4 credits) begins in January following the winter break, and is the first of five block courses, extending for the calendar year through December of the M2 academic year, organized in an organ system approach. Students’ experience in the gross anatomy lab begins in this block and will extend through Block 7. This sequence is in part oriented toward the logistics of the approach to the cadaver (e.g., starting in this block with skin and muscular systems). The content will include study of skin, muscle and bone anatomy and physiology and include exploration of orthopedic and rheumatologic issues, physical disability, and issues in health care such as pain management and appropriate use of testing and surgical intervention in conditions such as back pain.


Block 4: Circulation & Respiration (9 weeks; 7 credits) begins to explore fundamental physiologic and pharmacologic concepts in homeostasis, and introduces the student to some of the most common and significant health issues such as coronary disease, asthma and chronic lung disease. Many concepts in test utility, epidemiology, health systems, and health equity are also incorporated into this block.

Course Director: Basic science: Jenna Regan, PhD (Genetics)


Block 5: Digestion & Homeostasis 2 (7 weeks; 5 credits) along with study of the GI and renal systems, begins to explore hormonal physiology, particularly the exocrine aspects related to GI function and endocrine issues such as diabetes and adrenal function.  A number of health delivery systems and health equity issues surround the study of diabetes and of chronic kidney disease and dialysis.  This block also provides many opportunities to return to the study of biochemistry and nutrition.

Second Year

Course Directors: Basic science: Sara Bach, MD (Neuropathology); Andrew Darr, PhD


Block 6: Brain & Behavior (10 weeks; 8 credits) follows the summer break between the M1 and M2 academic years. Much of the peripheral nervous system would have been explored during previous blocks; here the emphasis is on the central nervous system, the special senses, and many aspects of normal and abnormal human development, psychology, and psychiatric disorders.

Course Director: Basic Science: Monzurul Roni, PhD


Block 7: Regulation & Reproduction (5 weeks; 4 credits) is the final organ system-oriented block course, and extends to the winter break of the M2 academic year. Students complete their initial study of anatomy with a focus on the pelvic floor and reproductive organs; an additional focus on endocrine function provides another opportunity to “spiral” to a deeper understanding of these complex physiologic interactions.

First Year and Second Year

Course Directors: Matthew Jager, DO (Med-Peds) and Elizabeth Gabel, MD (Family Medicine)


Doctoring and Clinical Skills (Longitudinal; 19 credits) is the primary vehicle for the Clinical Practice theme and students’ introduction to the care of patients. The course will combine classroom exercises and discussion in small groups, skills practice with patient-instructors and with each other, clinical simulation-based exercises for instruction and assessment, in-hospital practice of the complete history and physical examination, and office-based primary care experience in working with patients.

The Early Longitudinal Immersion Interprofessional Team Experience (ELI2TE) provides medical students an early and comprehensive exposure to team-based, patient-centered care in a primary care setting.

This longitudinal clinical experience, unique to the Peoria campus, imbeds students into a healthcare team during their first two years of medical school to better prepare them for the rigors of medicine and to increase their exposure to ambulatory care.

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Course Directors: Thembi Conner-Garcia, MD, MPH; Angela O’Bryant, MSN, RN; Amy Christison, MD (Pediatrics)


Medical Colloquia (Longitudinal; 4 Credits): Given the extraordinary amount of curricular content addressed in the typical pre-clinical MD curriculum, and necessary to prepare students for Step 1 of the USMLE examination, course syllabi are usually limited to addressing these high priority issues and are very tightly scheduled and controlled. Yet issues related to medicine are a vital part of everyday news, and bear some relationship to nearly every other academic discipline at the university. The Medical Colloquia offer a varied menu of lectures, seminars, and brief presentations by faculty, students, and guest speakers from around the world. The format can be used to augment other courses’ content with presentations on medically-related events in the news, introduce students to the perspectives of other health professions, and provide a venue for topics in the Health, Illness & Society, Health Care Systems, and Professional Development themes that do not fit easily into the schedules of other courses.

Course Directors: Basic science: David Pinson, DVM, PhD (Pathology); Thembi Conner Garcia MD, MPH (Pediatric Internal Medicine)


Synthesis (Longitudinal:12 Credits) links the week-long intersessions between each block course, together with the longer, summative period of Block 8, to form a course focusing on the cumulative nature of students’ learning and the longitudinal trajectory of their professional development. In each of these course segments, students will have an interval where they are not continually responsible for “new” material but can reflect on their learning to date, consolidate and integrate their knowledge, and plan their approach to learning going forward. Class sessions will focus on cases that illustrate the interdependence of the organ systems studied to date and the management of complex, multi-system disease. The Professional Development Theme will be prominent in this course, with mentored small-group sessions addressing issues in professional identity formation, wellness and resilience, career discernment, and preparation for residency.