University of California San Diego School of Medicine (UCSD) – School Profile and Medical Student Interviews

Student Interviews:

Neela, MS1


UC San Diego School of Medicine is located in the beautiful La Jolla, California. Incoming classes are composed of 134 students. 110 students in the last class were admitted to the MD class, 10 to the PRIME-Hq class (Health Equity), 9 to the Global Health Concentration Program, and 9 to the MSTP (MD/PhD) program. UCSD is amongst the top 30 medical schools in the nation for research and top 20 medical schools for primary care, according to US News. Affiliated hospitals include the UC San Diego Medical Center – Hillcrest, VA San Diego Healthcare System, and Children’s Hospital of San Diego.

Curriculum: The first year curriculum begins with a five-week long Foundations of Medicine course prior to a systems-based run through of normal cellular biology, histology, anatomy, and physiology. During first year, students also complete Clinical Foundations courses that emphasize skills in patient communication, physical exam, and inter professional development. These Clinical Foundations courses also utilize Problem Based Learning to help students develop integrated knowledge bases. The second year curriculum once again proceeds through the various organ-systems, this time highlighting pathology, pathophysiology, and pharmacology. Students also continue to build on the clinical skills through the longitudinal Clinical Foundations course.

Curriculum Highlights:

— Independent Study Project: The ISP is an opportunity for students to conduct creative and novel scholarly investigations of scientific questions they are personally interested in. The projects can fall under one of several categories including Medical Education, Community Service/Leadership, or Focused Clinical Multidisciplinary.  According to the ISP handbook on the UCSD SOM website, these ISP’s serve as opportunities for students to explore part of the medical field in depth, whereas the core curriculum emphasizes learning in breadth.

— Academic Communities: Each incoming student is assigned to one of six academic communities upon beginning their medical education. The communities are composed of roughly 20 medical students from each year and faculty director. The groups serve as a means of mentoring, advising, and support. This community is one of several other mentoring opportunities provided by UCSD SOM; the others include a BigSib (a more informal mentorship opportunity with an older classmate) and a Senior Faculty Advisor to help with career advising and the residency process.

—Predoctoral Clinical Research Training Program: The PCRTP is aimed at helping pre-doctoral students in the Health Sciences develop multidisciplinary, broad-based, and integrated clinical research training. The idea is to give students a foundational understanding of clinical research methodologies that would could carry over into doctoral training or a medical career.There are ‘short-term’ and ‘intensive’ training options, the latter of which awards a Masters of Advanced Studies to any student to complete the program. First and second year medical students can apply partake in this 12 month intensive program following their third year of medical school.

Location: La Jolla is hilly, seaside community located just north of San Diego proper. The beachside city sits on the curved coastline of the Pacific Ocean, making for some of the most scenic sunsets in the world. The cities topography and beautiful climate lend themselves to a wide variety of outdoor activities including hiking, mountain biking, surfing (really any beach sport you can think of!), etc. La Jolla is home to many educational institutions including Scripps Research Institute, the Salk Institute, and the Scripps Institute of Oceanography. Home of the Padres and several collegiate sports teams, San Diego has a wide variety of stadium venues for the athletically-inclined, but also has a rich live-music culture. There is tons to explore in San Diego in regards to food. Baja influences are widespread and the diverse community further adds to the possibilities.

Grading Scheme: 1st and 2nd Year: Pass/Fail