University of Pittsburgh

Curriculum Blocks

Fundamentals of Basic Science Block (FBS)

This block provides grounding in the basic sciences that underlie the practice of medicine. The block begins with an in-depth introduction to human anatomy and progresses to principles of cell structure and biology that underlie basic pathologic processes of disease. Topics of heritability, immunity, metabolism, and microbiology are covered to prepare students for subsequent coursework in pathophysiology. This block runs from August through March of the first year.

Organ Systems Pathophysiology Block (OSP)

The Organ Systems Block builds on the principles introduced in the Basic Science Block. Courses begin with a thorough grounding in human systems physiology, which is then followed by material on common pathological conditions, relevant pharmacology, and an introduction to medicine in each system. The sections are comprised of courses on systems that are intricately related in function or that are conceptually related in basic physiological principles. The Organ Systems Block begins in March of the first year and continues throughout the second year of the curriculum.

Evidence and Discovery Block (E&D)

The skills of reading biomedical literature, interpreting data, and evaluating clinical studies are the focus of the courses in this block. Courses integrate the themes of clinical expertise and scientific reasoning. Students are reminded of basic statistical methods and learn how clinical trials, medical databases, and translational medicine are foundations of evidence-based medicine and patient-centered care. The goal of the E&D block is to help medical students to become medical practitioners/investigators who are current with the latest advances in medicine. Courses in this block run through the entire first and second years.

Patient, Physician and Society Block (PPS)

This is a series of courses focused on the development of skills needed for effective interactions with patients and on increasing student understanding of the many roles physicians fill in society, in the health professions, and in the lives of their patients. The block includes integrated instruction on cross-cutting themes such as ethics, professionalism, cultural competence, quality, patient safety, health care systems, and legal aspects of healthcare. Whenever possible, contact with simulated or actual patients is incorporated into these courses. Students begin to have direct contact with patients during the first week of the curriculum, in the Introduction to Being a Physician Course. PPS courses run throughout the entire first and second years.

Introduction to Patient Care Block (IPC)

The fundamentals of the Physician-Patient interaction are the focus of this block which runs through the entire first and second years. Students experience graduated encounters in developing the patient interview and performing basic physical exams. As their skills increase, elements on physical diagnosis of abnormal findings are incorporated. Students interview and examine simulated patients in a controlled environment and hospitalized patients on the inpatient units. Starting in their first year, students are exposed to the practice of medicine in a range of settings, such as ambulatory primary care, including clinics and physicians’ offices; in generalist and specialized settings; and in practices that care for underserved populations.