Basic Science

In many medical schools students are exposed solely to classroom- based didactics during the duration of their basic science coursework. After approximately two years they are then required to apply their knowledge to actual cases.

At International American University College of Medicine, similar to many of the best medical schools in the United States, we take a more progressive approach to medical education in that our students are immediately exposed to a case-based, problem-oriented curriculum ("problem based learning", or PBL), which places far more emphasis on learning that is active (researching, discussing) rather than passive (sitting, memorizing). Our curriculum helps build the student’s confidence in their own presentation skills which must be honed by the time they are presenting their cases to a room full of medical doctors.

Case Studies

Students are presented with a specific case and are required to present and discuss this case during the course of the semester. With each case comes a plethora of questions compiled by various faculty members. The student group is required to prepare an oral presentation which addresses each of these questions. The background required to effectively “solve” each case will depend on the specific case discussed during that week. The depth and difficulty of the cases will increase as the students progress towards their final semester in St. Lucia. In addition to case studies, students also participate extensively in local clinics and in the local St. Lucian hospital, St. Jude.

Courses

The first four terms of the Basic Sciences are carried out in St. Lucia; the fifth, or "bridge" term, begins in either St. Lucia or in the United States.

First Term
Professionalism and Patient-Doctor Skills I
Histology and Cell Biology
Public Health
Gross and Developmental Anatomy
Introduction to Research
Case Study I

Second Term
Communication and Patient-Doctor Skills II
Biochemistry & Genetics
Physiology
Case Study II

Third Term
Ethics and Patient-Doctor Skills III
Pathology I
Medical Microbiology & Immunology
Behavioral Science
Case Study III

Fourth Term
Physical Diagnosis and Patient-Doctor Skills IV
Pathology II
Medical Pharmacology
Case Study IV

Fifth Term
Introduction to Clinical Medicine (ICM)
USMLE Review Course

Course Descriptions:

First Term

  • PROFESSIONALISM & PATIENT-DOCTOR SKILLS I -This course consists of fifteen weeks of lecture during which time students will be educated on what it means to BE the doctor, what is expected in terms of personal deportment, professionalism, appearance, and cultural awareness.  Students will practice what they have learned in the classroom and will also observe at an in-patient and out-patient hospital.
  • INTRODUCTION TO RESEARCH SKILLS -This course is designed to introduce students to research designs used in clinical medicine, introduce students to the methods used to evaluate the available evidence in the diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, and risk of harm associated with available patient assessments and interventions, and offer ample opportunities to practice these skills by using “simulated patient encounters.” Lecture topics will include the basis for the ‘evidence-based medicine movement,’ levels of evidence, sources of reliable information (and how to identify unreliable information), common types of study designs (with a major focus on randomized controlled clinical trials, randomized controlled field trials, and meta-analyses), how to formulate a clinical question using the PICO formula and use Medical Search Headings (MeSH) to identify the available literature, and how to evaluate data pertaining to clinical questions of diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, and harm.  Assessment of the students mastery of the material will come from written exams, group presentations of simulated patient encounters, and written assignments.
  • GROSS & DEVELOPMENTAL ANATOMY -Gross structure and development of organs and systems of the human body.  This course is dedicated to teaching developmental aspects of major organ systems, integrated with a discussion of the gross anatomy of the human body. Within the course, an emphasis is placed on applied and clinical aspects of gross and developmental anatomy.  In addition to didactic lectures and cadaveric dissection, the learning of anatomy is enhanced with the help of small group discussions in the laboratory with computer software, study of X- rays, CT scans, MRIs and osteology.
  • HISTOLOGY AND CELL BIOLOGY -Microscopic structure and function of cells, tissues and organs.  Formal lectures and student presentations explore the microscopic anatomy of cells, tissues and organs. Emphasis is placed upon the correlation of structure with function.
  • PUBLIC HEALTH -Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Preventive Medicine.  Epidemiologic principles, measurements, investigations and research designs will be discussed. Students will gain experience in applying epidemiologic methods in clinical problem solving and decision making. Principles of biostatistics as they apply to medicine will be covered. Students are expected to build upon and in turn demonstrate their knowledge in the process of testing hypotheses and making inferences from various types of data. Disease trends in human populations and methods of disease prevention will also be explored.  Public health systems and medical care organizations will also be reviewed. Students participate in practical instruction through their participation in community health care projects.
  • CASE STUDIES I:  First semester students are presented with a specific case and are required to present and discuss this case during the course of the semester. These cases focus on integration of Gross Anatomy, Embryology, and Histology. With each case comes a plethora of questions compiled by various faculty members. The student group is required to prepare an oral presentation which addresses each of these questions. The background required to effectively “solve” each case will depend on the specific case discussed during that week.

Second Term

  • COMMUNICATION & PATIENT-DOCTOR SKILLS DIDACTICS II -As part of this course, lectures will discuss patient medical history including how it is gathered and recorded. Students will learn how to glean patient information by from dialogue, neurolinguistics (body language), medical records, and other healthcare professionals.  The didactics will include the patient’s demographics, chief complaint, and family, social; review of systems, and past medical history.  The course will also explain the function as well as how to use SOAP notes.  With 5th term mentors, physicians, and clinical asst. students will gain practical knowledge of recording patient history.
  • BIOCHEMISTRY AND GENETICS
    This course combines the subjects of biochemistry, genetics, and nutrition. The major topics taught in the course include:
    BIOCHEMSTRY: --General principles of molecular structure, biochemical reactions, and enzyme kinetics. -- Plasma proteins and enzymes and their diagnostic uses. -- The principles of homeostasis, including acid-base balance, metabolic regulation, and mechanisms of hormone action. -- Metabolic pathways, with emphasis on the major pathways and those that are commonly affected in diseases. -- Clinical nutrition including exposure to local patient populations at the community level. -- Metabolic diseases including both common conditions such as diabetes, mellitus, liver disease, renal failure, and inborn errors of metabolism. The students confront these diseases in the form of case studies that are discussed in class. -- The principles of DNA and RNA structure and gene expression.
    MEDICAL GENETICS: -- Principles of genetics and mechanisms of genetic diseases. -- Close integration between the basic and clinical aspects of biochemistry and genetics. Concurrently students learn basic scientific principles while being introduced to clinical applications.
  • PHYSIOLOGY -Basic human biological processes.  Both normal and abnormal physiological states, as seen in both everyday life and in the clinical setting, will be examined fully. Specifically, the mechanical, biomedical, and regulatory processes of major organ systems including cardiovascular, respiratory, renal, endocrine, gastrointestinal, and neural will be covered. Clinical correlation is stressed via case studies of patients with major organ system dysfunction.
  • CASE STUDIES II:  Second semester students are presented with a specific case and are required to present and discuss this case during the course of the semester. These cases focus on integration of Biochemistry, Genetics and Physiology. With each case comes a plethora of questions compiled by various faculty members. The student group is required to prepare an oral presentation which addresses each of these questions. The background required to effectively “solve” each case will depend on the specific case discussed during that week.

Third Term

  • ETHICS & PATIENT-DOCTOR SKILLS III -Students will be instructed on the Moral and legal concerns in medicine, through Didactic lectures.  The course will explore complex issues pertaining to confidentiality, informed consent, mental competency, obstetric/pediatric ethics, physician-assisted suicide and conflict of interest situations Current laws, regulations and judicial precedents governing ethical matters in medicine will also be discussed. . Students will be instructed in physical and practical skills involving a stethoscope, Otoscope, ophthalmoscope, tuning forks, reflex hammer, laryngoscope, vaginal specula, surgical gloves, gowns, hats, booties, surgical instruments, suture material, casting material, syringes, needles, and other medical instruments essential to a physician’s main functions.   Students will also gain valuable hospital experience with 5th term mentors. Behavioral Sciences: -The biological and psychological bases of mental illness.  Major psychiatric disorders are covered with an emphasis on diagnostic features, neurobiological correlates, and psychotherapeutic and biological treatments. During practical role-play exercises, students will gain experience conducting mental status exams, interviewing for specific neuropsychiatric disorders, and managing suicidal behavior.
  • MEDICAL MICROBIOLOGY -Microorganisms causing infectious diseases.  The course will cover the classification, laboratory identification, pathogenesis and clinical manifestations of disease processes and treatment strategies. Major human diseases of bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoa and helminths will be presented in lectures. Student experiences within the laboratory will supplement didactic instruction. Fundamental concepts of immunology are covered and integrated as various diseases are discussed.
  • PATHOLOGY I -The study of basic reactions of cells and tissues to abnormal stimuli that underlie all diseases.  Students examine the mechanisms of injury and disease processes and the body's response. Lectures cover cell injury, acute and chronic inflammation, ischemia and necrosis, neoplasia and mechanisms of pathogenicity. Infectious disease and response to infectious agents are covered.
  • CASE STUDIES III:  Third semester students are presented with a specific case and are required to present and discuss this case during the course of the semester. These cases focus on integration of Microbiology, Immunology, General Pathology and Behavioral Sciences. With each case comes a plethora of questions compiled by various faculty members. The student group is required to prepare an oral presentation which addresses each of these questions. The background required to effectively “solve” each case will depend on the specific case discussed during that week.

Fourth Term

  • PHYSICAL DIAGNOSIS & PATIENT-DOCTOR SKILLS IV -Didactic lectures will demonstrate to students how to perform head to toe physical examinations of mock and real patients. Students will be introduced to clinical skills such as: Auscultation of Cardiac, Pulmonary, and Gastrointestinal sounds; Otoscopy, including the Otoscope, its practical use and functions in the observation of adults and children; Ophthalmoscopy, including the Ophthalmoscope, with instruction on how to use it for observation; Performing interpretation of 12 Lead Electrocardiograms; Using Doppler devices in order to auscultate fetal heartbeats and find arteries and veins; Phlebotomy and starting an intravenous line; Suturing- two handed, one-handed, and instrument-tie; The use of airway and respiratory care instruments and maneuvers in critically ill patients; Administering oxygen through use of the nasal cannula, face mask, and non-rebreather mask, Ambubag-mask, Ambubag-endotrachael tube manual ventilation, Laryngoscope, endotrachael tubes and endotrachael intubation; Cardio-pulmonary resuscitation, Advanced Cardiac Life Support, Percussion of body cavities and organs; Pelvic, rectal, and speculum examinations in vitro and on live models and patients; Central intravenous line placement, Gowning and gloving in preparation for surgery; Casting and immobilization of the extremities of injured or post-operative patients; The use of splints, plaster and fiberglass glass casting materials and their application on live patients injections; Intradermal, subcutaneous, and intramuscular injection techniques; Lumbar puncture, Epidural and Subarachnoid (spinal) anesthesia; Local Anesthetic techniques, including local, ring, and nerve blocks.
  • MEDICAL PHARMACOLOGY -An integration of anatomy, histology, physiology, biochemistry, microbiology and pathology in the understanding of complex actions of drugs on the living organism.  The main focus of this course is to provide future doctors with a basic understanding of the functions of drugs in the treatment of patients. Basic principles of pharmacology including absorption, distribution, metabolism, excretion, drug toxicity and drug-drug interactions will be presented together with the principles of drug-receptor interactions. After basic concepts are covered, the pharmacology of all major organ systems will be explored, including the autonomic and central nervous systems and the cardiovascular, respiratory, renal, and blood systems. The anti-microbial and cancer chemotherapeutic agents and the basic principles of toxicology will also be covered.
  • PATHOLOGY II -Students will gain an understanding of patho physiology manifestations and the management of common diseases. Pulmonary, cardiac, gastrointestinal, endocrine, rheumatic, orthopedic, renal, and neurologic and hematology organ systems will be covered. Course includes laboratory hours.
  • NEUROSCIENCE -Structure and function of the brain, spinal cord and peripheral nervous system.  Students will gain knowledge of Neuroscience through didactic sessions and laboratory dissections of the human brain and spinal cord.  This will promote a clinically relevant understanding of a functional and dysfunctional nervous system. Through the integration of neuroanatomy, physiology, pharmacology, and biochemistry, students will converse fluently in the language of the nervous system. Emphasized are the clinical examination and the correlation of findings with neuroimages.
    Case Studies IV:  Fourth semester students are presented with a specific case and are required to present and discuss this case during the course of the semester. These cases focus on integration of Gross Anatomy, Embryology, Histology, Biochemistry, Genetics, Physiology, Microbiology, Immunology, and General Pathology, system Pathology, Behavioral Sciences Neurosciences and Pharmacology. With each case comes a plethora of questions compiled by various faculty members. The student group is required to prepare an oral presentation which addresses each of these questions. The background required to effectively “solve” each case will depend on the specific case discussed during that week.
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