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Students spend their first two years primarily in Geisinger Commonwealth’s North Campus location, studying basic sciences. Courses are designed to address the interface of patient, physician and society, and introduce clinical thinking and decision-making in today’s socioeconomic and cultural environment. During first year, the focus is gaining a core understanding of the structure and function of the human body.

Each student is assigned a Family-centered Experience (FCE) program family to follow throughout the first two years to provide a sense of continuity in patient care and help them gain a first-hand understanding of access issues, healthcare costs and the personal choices patients make. These experiences also provide an opportunity for students to hone their communication skills and develop respectful, beneficial relationships with patients and their families.

GCSOM MD year 1


  • Case-based Learning 1
  • Cellular and Molecular Basis of Life
  • Human Structure and Function
  • Neuroscience
  • Foundations
  • Patient-centered Medicine
  • Physician and Society

Course descriptions

(MD 609) Case-based Learning 1 (7 credits)
Course description: The principle pedagogical approach of Case-based Learning 1 & 2 (CBL 1 & 2) is the discussion of clinical cases or healthcare issues by small groups of students. These ‘discussions’ complement content or activities of other courses in the first two years of the Geisinger Commonwealth curriculum. The goals of the CBL 1 & 2 are to (1) introduce students to a team-based experience, the purpose of which is to integrate content and activities of other courses in the Year 1 and 2 curriculum, (2) develop an investigatory approach to the discussion of clinical cases or healthcare issues, (3) foster self-directed learning, (4) provide students with strategies to identify their learning needs, (5) appreciate how basic and clinical sciences are linked to each other in the practice of medicine, and (6) appreciate how other facets of medicine such as professionalism, interprofessionalism, systems-based practice and ethical behavior complement basic and clinical sciences.

(MD 600) Cellular and Molecular Basis of Life (9 credits)
Course description: This course is intended to provide the student with a foundational understanding of the basic scientific principles underlying the biochemical, molecular, and cellular and genetic mechanisms that impart the normal structure and function of the human body and instruct its development, and to prepare them for subsequent course and clinical work in their training. The course provides students with knowledge about the fundamental biochemical, molecular, cellular, and genetic processes common to all mammalian cells and it offers students the ability to use principles and concepts of cell biology, molecular biology, genetics, and histology to analyze medically relevant data, solve problems, make predictions, and determine a course of action in healthcare settings.

(MD 605) Human Structure and Function (22 credits)
Course description: The Human Structure and Function course is a multidisciplinary approach to medical education that fully integrates the basic disciplines of gross anatomy, physiology, histology, normal radiology and development of the human body. The course is designed to use several instructional methodologies, including podcasts, lectures, laboratories (cadaver dissection, histology, and physiology), demonstrations, small group case-based learning sessions and team-based learning.

(MD 606) Neuroscience (10 credits)
Course description: Neuroscience takes the student through the science of the nervous system and its clinical applications for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of neurologic diseases. The instructional material will be presented in a multidisciplinary format to foster the integration of the basic disciplines of neuroscience, anatomy, biochemistry, histology, immunology, microbiology, pathology, pharmacology and physiology. The course synthesizes basic science and clinical aspects of information about the nervous system to promote both the acquisition of fundamental knowledge and the development of clinical knowledge. The integration of these disciplines requires independent study, patient presentations, podcasts, team-based learning, clinical cases studies and scientific papers discussions in small groups, as well as active learning in the neuroanatomy laboratory, examining standardized patients or simulation models and conducting a physical examination in the Clinical Skills and Simulation Center.

(MD 607) Foundations (4 credits)
Course description: This is a two week course that occurs in the spring of the first year of medical studies. The course will provide you with the core concepts that are critical in establishing a foundation for comprehending each of the important disciplines that comprise neuroscience in year 1 and the systems courses in year 2. These disciplines include immunology, microbiology, pathology and pharmacology. Successful completion of this course will provide the foundation upon which your knowledge in each of the disciplines will expand and deepen. By the completion of this course, students have a thorough understanding of the topics in each discipline including immunology, microbiology, pathology and pharmacology.

(MD 608) Patient-centered Medicine (13 credits)
Course description: Patient-centered Medicine (PCM) will provide students with opportunities to develop knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to practice patient-centered and evidence-based care in today’s healthcare environment. The course assists students in several key areas of professional development including but not limited to; clinical skills, cultural awareness, bioethics, human development, human behavior and discussion of a robust health system. All elements intersect with important professionalism topics as well. This course should give you the tools to become a competent, patient –centered physician who values the people you serve. The course is year-long and includes a wide range of learning opportunities such as lectures, panel discussions, case presentations, small group discussions, and practice with simulated patients, workshops, patient contact, mentoring, and self-directed exercises.

(MD 602) Physician and Society (13 credits)
Course description: This course is designed to introduce the scientific method as it relates to studies conducted in humans, where relationships and effects are often obscured by random variation. Emphasis is on the interpretation of the various study designs used today and the analysis methods used to evaluate the resulting quantitative data. The students will also be provided with an introduction to public health including occupational health, the U.S. healthcare system, administrative aspects of healthcare, preventive medicine, social influences on health and international health.