Beginning in 1997, Penn State University College of Medicine launched a new curriculum for first and second year medical students which brings together two prior curricular options–a traditional lecture track and a problem-based learning track–into a single integrated curriculum. The integrated curriculum is developed and taught by interdisciplinary teams of faculty representing specialties relevant to each instructional block. There is an increasing emphasis on case-based learning as the student progresses from the first course block to subsequent blocks in the first and second years.
The humanities curriculum which was previously taught as small group seminars is now combined with behavioral science, clinical interviewing, physical diagnosis, issues in medicine, and the primary care preceptorship into the first and second year courses “Medical Humanities,” and “Ethics and Professionalism,” respectively. Third-year students are required to participate in 6 hours of ethics clinical case conference discussions as part of their third-year medicine clerkship. During their fourth year, all medical students must choose a humanities selective course seminar or complete an independent study under the supervision of humanities faculty.