Our curriculum is tried and true, yet constantly evolving through continual feedback from our students. Moreover, it is flexible with a fully elective fourth year and abundant opportunities for research and public service.

Medical students shape an evolving curriculum

Hilary Gallin treats a patient in Barnes-Jewish HospitalOur students are integral participants in shaping our curriculum. Meet Hilary Gallin, MD ’17, who developed a multiyear curriculum aimed at training students to care for patients with disabilities. 

See Hilary’s story »


First Year

  • Patient contact begins within first month
  • Focus on normal human biology
  • Selectives allow for exploration of many areas of medicine

Second Year

  • Focus on effects of disease: pathology
  • Expanded clinical experience

Third Year

  • Core clinical clerkships, including ambulatory care

Fourth Year

  • 32 weeks elective
  • 4-week Capstone course

Key points

  • Patient contact begins in the first month throughout medical school
  • First and Second year are pass/fail
  • Fourth year is essentially elective, except for the four-week Capstone course
  • The Fourth-Year Capstone course provides intensive residency preparation (general and specialty-specific) through lectures, small groups and procedural skills workshops
  • Student carrels provide a cozy environment for collegial, collaborative study and learning
  • Customize your education at multiple points
  • Key topics presented repeatedly as longitudinal threads throughout all four years enhance learning and comprehension
  • Students and faculty evaluate and refine each and every course, every year
  • Grow as a person, as a citizen and as leader through participation in The Unofficial Curriculum of more than 50 student-run groups, service projects and activities
  • The Washington University Medical Plunge (WUMP) provides an immersion experience into public health in St. Louis

Educational approaches

Our faculty recognizes that students have various learning styles. For that reason, our curriculum incorporates resources and approaches that let our students learn the way they prefer. These approaches include

  • 1:1:1 student:patient:faculty interactions
  • Innovative Learning Management System
  • Lectures and laboratory sessions
  • Video-taped and archived lectures and presentations
  • Small-group interactions
  • Self-directed learning
  • Active, engaging clinical learning guided by master clinicians

Continual enhancements

Students actively shape continual refinements and enhancements to the curriculum by providing feedback on every educational endeavor and participating on educational working committees. Meeting students’ needs is a major focus of the faculty and administration.