California University of Science and Medicine – School Profile and Medical Student Interviews

Medical Student Interviews:

Bao Vu, MS1


California University of Science and Medicine (CUSM) is a private, non-profit medical school located in Colton, California. It was founded in 2015 with the goal of addressing the shortage of primary care physicians in the state. CUSM’s mission is to educate and train competent, compassionate, and culturally sensitive physicians who are dedicated to serving underserved communities.


The first and second year curriculum consists of system-based teaching of basic scientific principles that are integrated with clinical presentations pertinent to each organ system. The first two years include 18 required integrated courses, including one foundational course, 10 multidisciplinary system-based courses, 6 longitudinal course focussed on clinical skills, professional development and research, and one board preparation course. Students are introduced to the clinical experiences in their first year. Using the flipped classroom, team-based approach, students have the opportunity to identify strengths and weakness early in their clinical trajectory which allows them to tailor subsequent learning strategies. The curriculum includes readiness assurance testing, journal clubs, hands-on laboratories including virtual microscopy while discussing clinical cases to further integrate basic science and clinical knowledge. All this coursework is augmented through the use of simulation experiences, standardized patient encounters, and service learning. In the clinical years, students rotate through core clerkships, sub-internships, and electives during which basic science education is reinforced through unique patient and clinical experiences.

Curriculum Highlights:

— CARE: longitudinal clinical learning experience threaded throughout CUSM students within the first 18 months of pre-clerkship education. CARE is designed to provide early exposure within community-based primary care. The overall goal of the program is for pre-clinical students to participate and be effective in essential concepts of continuity of care, engaging with the community in research, and applied clinical skills. Students are exposed to outpatient clinics in which clinical patient care is practiced. Students should develop sensitivity to social, familial, ethical, legal, cultural, and economic issues encountered in an ambulatory setting.
— VIDA: Medical Spanish program dedicated to training Medical students to provide holistically excellent care to the Hispanic patient population. VIDA is a comprehensive program that includes lessons, activities, role-playing, conversations, interviewing, medical histories, examinations, volunteering, and experiential learning opportunities in Spanish-speaking medical contexts.
— Learning communities: Medical students are assigned to small learning communities headed by “College Mentors”. Each college has two such mentors through Years 1 and 2 – one mentor focuses on clinical experience (MD) while the other on research experience (Ph.D.). In Year 2, a clerkship director will also join this mentorship group to help facilitate a smooth transition into the clinical years. The mentors are available to discuss academic issues, processes difficult encounters, and discuss curricular matters, study strategies, academic performance, and professionalism.


CUSM is located in Colton, California, which is a city in San Bernardino County in the southwestern part of the state. Colton is located in the Inland Empire region of California and is home to a population of around 53,000 people. The city is located about 60 miles east of Los Angeles and is part of the Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario metropolitan area. Colton is a diverse community with a mix of residential and industrial areas. The city is home to a number of parks and recreational facilities, as well as a number of cultural attractions, such as the San Bernardino County Museum. Colton is well-connected to the rest of the region by a number of major highways, including Interstate 10 and State Route 210.


Years 1 and 2, Pass / Fail; Years 3 and 4, Honors, High Pass, Pass, Fail

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