A Brief Primer on Medical Education


Hello Internet, and welcome to the Tusa Report.
The medical education system in the United States is not very intuitive, both to people within and outside the medical community. What follows is a brief primer on what medical education. There is a lot more information about this elsewhere, so if you’re interested in learning more, I’d recommend looking around. Wikipedia is a great place to start.
For most people, allopathic medical school is a four year process, unless you take additional year(s) for personal reasons, to do research, or complete a dual degree, such as an MD-PhD or MD-MPH.
The first two years of medical school are typically pre-clinical learning, aka “book” learning. This includes lecture topics such as biochemistry, molecular and cellular biology, physiology, pathology, and pathophysiology, and laboratory subjects such as anatomy and histology. At the end of the first two years, students take the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Step 1, or more simply, Step 1.
The third and fourth years consist of rotations, also known as clerkships, through different fields of medicine, including required fields, such as internal medicine, surgery, OB/GYN, and psychiatry, and other specialties chosen by the student. These rotations typically occur in teaching hospitals. During fourth year, medical students take the USMLE Step 2, also known as USMLE Clinical Knowledge & Clinical Skills.
But wait! There’s more. After graduation, doctors must complete a residency to practice medicine in the US. Depending on the specialty, these can last for 3-6 years, and some may elect to do additional internships or fellowships. The USMLE Step 3 exam is taken during or after the 1st year of residency. (Fun fact: Step 3 is a 16 hour exam over 2 days). Passing all 3 of the Step exams is a prerequisite for state licensing eligibility. Medical licensing varies slightly state by state
However, most of that is still very far away for me because I am a first year medical student. This blog will be focusing on my medical education, which at the moment is primarily pre-clinical education. Prepare yourself for the biochemistry. Fortunately, my medical school integrates clinical learning and information on the humanity of medicine into the first 2 years. Upcoming topics include epidemiology, the biopsychosocial model in medicine, medical history taking, and more.
I plan on updating this approximately twice per week so stay tuned for more!

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