The curriculum at KCU-COM consists of a minimum of four years of structured training leading to the doctor of osteopathic medicine. The first two years of the curriculum center upon the foundations of basic and clinical medical sciences. Osteopathic principles and philosophy as well as contemporary concepts in medical education are integrated into the curriculum. The last two years of medical education focus on training in clinical settings.
The purpose of the curriculum is to advance the mission of the University in preparing its graduates to be highly competent, caring and compassionate osteopathic physicians.
COM has an integrated systems curriculum designed with principles that emphasize lifelong learning. The didactic curriculum is transdisciplinary, systems-based and interactive with programmed repetition. The COM curriculum stresses active, adult learning and instills the habit of lifelong learning, a fundamental goal at KCU. Lifelong learning is recognized as a necessary attribute for a fully competent and successful career in the practice of medicine.
The first-year curriculum progresses through all organ systems and stresses normal structure and function. Basic biomedical science disciplines are reviewed in all first-year system courses with an emphasis on normal physiology and anatomy. Clinical relevancy is stressed from the very beginning of the first year through the inclusion of clinical integration sessions that highlight the application of salient material.
The second-year curriculum consists of the first-year system courses with the emphasis on pathology, clinical medicine and pharmacology. Mechanisms of disease processes and clinical patient presentations are stressed so that students may learn to develop a thorough differential diagnosis of disease states. Programmed repetition occurs in the second year with a review of all organ system physiology at the beginning of each course. Clinical integration sessions emphasize application of the material throughout the year.
Principles in Clinical Medicine and Osteopathic Skills are two longitudinal courses scheduled concurrent to all systems courses in the first two years of the COM curriculum. These courses emphasize foundational knowledge in clinical medicine and osteopathic manipulation, respectively, while integrating topics relevant to the current system course. Principles of Clinical Medicine and Osteopathic Skills are competency-based courses. The COM curriculum utilizes standardized patient interactions and increasingly sophisticated simulations to assess the clinical competencies and osteopathic skills of students so they meet the expectations of core clinical rotations and electives in the third and fourth years.
There is an incremental shift over the first two years of the COM curriculum of teacher-centered learning to student-centered learning. This solidifies and begins the process intended to stimulate the lifelong learning required of a physician. Lectures consist of introductions and are delivered in conjunction with assigned readings and clinical integration sessions, which are focused upon cases. Faculty content experts conduct clinical integration sessions and typically employ interactive technology with full student engagement.
The curricular goal by the end of year two is to engender in our students the general ability to think diagnostically at an appropriate level as a physician-in-training. The expectation is that students bring those capabilities to core clinical rotations and electives in years three and four. The overarching curricular goal is that each graduate is fully prepared to enter residency, graduate medical education and successfully develop the requisite knowledge, skills and attitudes of a fully-trained osteopathic physician.
Competencies & Student Outcomes
The COM curriculum was designed to ensure graduates are able to demonstrate specific skills. The University has identified select educational objectives that serve as the foundation of the curriculum. At a minimum, a graduate must be able to:
- Demonstrate basic knowledge of osteopathic philosophy and practice and osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMM).
- Demonstrate medical knowledge through one or more of the following: passing of course tests; standardized tests of the NBOME; post-core clerkship tests; research activities; presentations; participation in directed reading programs or journal clubs; or other evidence-based medical activities.
- Demonstrate interpersonal and communication skills with patients and other health care professionals.
- Demonstrate knowledge of professional, ethical and legal practice management and public health issues applicable to medical practice.
- Demonstrate basic support skills as assessed by nationally standardized evaluations.
In addition, the COM curriculum prepares students for graduate medical education. Graduates meet the following minimum competencies:
Competency 1: Osteopathic Philosophy and Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine
Graduates are expected to demonstrate and apply knowledge of accepted standards in Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT). The education goal is to train a skilled and competent osteopathic practitioner who remains dedicated to lifelong learning and to practice habits consistent with osteopathic principles and practices.
Competency 2: Medical Knowledge
Graduates are expected to demonstrate and apply knowledge of accepted standards of clinical medicine in their respective specialty area, remain current with new developments in medicine, and participate in lifelong learning activities, including research.
Competency 3: Patient Care
Graduates must demonstrate the ability to effectively treat patients, provide medical care that incorporates osteopathic principles and practices, empathy, awareness of behavioral issues, preventive medicine and health promotion.
Competency 4: Interpersonal and Communication Skills
Graduates are expected to demonstrate interpersonal and communication skills that enable them to establish and maintain professional relationships with patients, families and other members of health care teams.
Competency 5: Professionalism
Graduates are expected to uphold the Osteopathic Oath in the conduct of their professional activities that promote advocacy of patient welfare, adherence to ethical principles, collaboration with health professionals, lifelong learning, and sensitivity to diverse patient populations. Graduates should be cognizant of their own physical and mental health in order to effectively care for patients.
Competency 6: Practice-Based Learning and Improvement
Graduates must demonstrate the ability to critically evaluate their methods of clinical practice, integrate evidence-based medicine into patient care, show an understanding of research methods, and improve patient care practices.
Competency 7: Systems-Based Practice
Graduates are expected to demonstrate an understanding of health care delivery systems, provide effective and qualitative patient care with the system, and practice cost-effective medicine.
A variety of teaching and learning methods are incorporated during the first two years. These methods include classroom lectures, laboratory exercises, small-group discussions, clinical integration sessions, computer-assisted instruction, designated student assignments, specialized workshops and the use of standardized patients and human patient simulators.