MD Curriculum Overview

Before they begin their clinicals, MD students learn how to properly put on their surgical gowns and gloves. Photo by Deborah Manog Dimaya.


JABSOM Academics – Curriculum

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Or, view the curriculum overview table directly at:

The MD Program is a four-year curriculum which includes an initial two-year pre-clerkship portion followed by two years of clinical activities in hospitals and clinics. The curriculum is guided by the school’s  educational philosophy ( and designed to help students achieve its graduation objectives (

The pre-clerkship years are divided into eight instructional units, six of which are organized around problem-based learning (PBL) tutorials. Within each of these segments of the curriculum, students can look forward to active and engaging PBL tutorials, supplemented by lectures, labs, standardized patients, and advanced simulation experiences.

Throughout the first year, a Community Health course provides service-learning opportunities and information on valuable community resources. Across both the first and second-year of the curriculum, a series of Clinical Skills courses provide students with regular learning activities that offer students the opportunity to practice and develop their medical interviewing and physical examination skills under the direct supervision of clinical skills faculty. This is complemented by the Longitudinal Clinical Mentorship (LCM) program that introduces first- and second-year students to the profession of clinical medicine. Over the course of a two-year relationship with a physician in the community, students will reinforce their knowledge, practice basic clinical skills and gain valuable insight into the practice of medicine.

Learning communities occur throughout JABSOM’s four-year curriculum and are an important part of the JABSOM student experience.  They allow interaction between students from each of the four classes, provide a 4-year longitudinal relationship with their mentor, and have both advisory and educational/ curricular components. Electives in a variety of disciplines are also available all four years to students. Clubs and interest groups, complement the academic experience at JABSOM, as well as traditional events like the annual medical school lūʻau.

In the third year, students participate in longitudinal clinical “clerkships”. These courses immerse learners in the important clinical disciplines of Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Pediatrics, Psychiatry, and Surgery. Students participate in the care of patients under the supervision of medical school faculty and resident physicians. Students may be assigned a clerkship site on a neighbor island.

The fourth year of medical school offers an opportunity for students to explore potential careers in medicine. In addition to required experiences in Emergency Medicine and Geriatrics & Palliative Care, students may spend up to 24 weeks in electives designed to explore various clinical and biomedical research disciplines.

The University of Hawaiʻi John A. Burns School of Medicine is internationally known and respected for its outstanding educational programs. Combining an innovative problem-based learning (PBL) curriculum in the first two years with outstanding, community-based clinical training in the third- and fourth-years, JABSOM provides students with a highly-effective, thoughtfully-designed educational experience.