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Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Course Overview


1st Year

2nd Year

3rd Year  

4th Year

Fundamentals of Patient Care

In 2009-10, the College of Medicine significantly reorganized the curriculum for medical education. The new Integrated Curriculum is designed to help students learn preclinical medicine in a way that will better prepare them for patient care. Students study systems of the human body from molecular processes to macroscopic structure in year-long themes that include Structure & Function, Homeostasis & Regulation, Food & Fuel, and Fundamentals of Patient Care. The Fundamentals of Patient Care (FPC) theme is co-directed by faculty from the Departments of Psychiatry and Family Medicine and focuses on several areas of professional training and physician development:

  • Medical Interviewing
  • Physical Diagnosis
  • Medically-relevant Behavioral Science
  • Professionalism and Career Planning

Content within each theme is organized around the bodily system being studied within a particular block. For example, during the Musculoskeletal Block, FPC topics include physical examination of the limbs and introduction to acute and chronic pain. 

The overall goals and objectives for the FPC theme are:


  • Develop foundational medical communication skills
  • Develop basic physical diagnosis skills
  • Increase knowledge about behavioral science concepts relevant to medical practice
  • Foster development of professional identity as physician
  • Develop and refine ability to access medical information using informatics resources
  • Foster the application of scientific knowledge to clinical medicine
  • Prepare to pass the Step 1 US Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE)
  • Begin preparation for the third-year clinical clerkships


By the end of the first year, the student will be able to do the following:

  • Effectively conduct a medical interview
  • Establish rapport with a patient
  • Appreciate patient diversity and its relation to provision of, and access to, medical care
  • Demonstrate basic oral and written patient presentation skills
  • Demonstrate professionalism in patient care and educational settings through dress, demeanor, and appropriate communication
  • Collaborate with peers and instructors in team settings to accomplish team goals
  • Offer and accept instructive feedback
  • Formulate and execute effective search strategies using the electronic information tools
  • Recognize high quality and reliable sources of medical information
  • Demonstrate the ability to apply newly acquired information to clinical cases

The FPC theme uses a combination of lectures, small group seminars, Simulation Center activities, mentoring by community physicians, interaction with standardized patients, and clinical demonstrations to facilitate student learning. In addition, students begin their participation in the Senior Mentor Program during the second semester of FPC. 

Contact Information

FPC Theme Director:

Daniel W. Smith, Ph.D.                                     
Department of Psychiatry                                   
67 President St, 2nd Floor (MSC 861)                                                
(843) 792-2945  

Curriculum Consultant:

Donna Kern, M.D.
Associate Dean for Curriculum Intergration & Implementation, Clinical Sciences



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