Information for Incoming Medical Students


We cannot come close to telling you all there is to know about medical school in a few brief paragraphs. It is truly an experience you have to live to appreciate. We can, however, provide you with an informal overview of the USU medical school curriculum. We also encourage you to read the student handbook and the USU catalog, where more information on the academic program can be found. Additionally, staff and faculty members will explain all phases at the appropriate times.

The following snapshot will provide you with a brief introduction to the medical education and training you will experience at USU over the next four years.

First Year

The first year of medical school is highly structured and the curriculum focuses on the basic sciences. Courses include Anatomy (Introduction to Structure and Function; Clinical Head, Neck, and Functional Neuroscience; and Structure and Function of Organ Systems), Biochemistry, Epidemiology and Biometrics, Human Context in Healthcare, Introduction to Clinical Medicine-I and II, Medical History, Medical Psychology and Military Studies I. Courses vary greatly in length, some lasting only several weeks while others last most of the academic year. At the end of the first year, the class participates in a two-part Military Medical Field Studies. The first part is the field training exercise called Operation Kerkesner. This training takes place at Fort Indiantown Gap in nearby Pennsylvania. The exercise is followed by an individual summer experience at an installation of your parent service. Several weeks of leave are scheduled before the exercises begin.

Second Year

The second year of medical school begins with an abbreviated orientation program. During the second year, you will continue to learn about the basic sciences, but there is a more clinical approach. Second year courses include: Introduction to Clinical Reasoning, Ethical-Legal-Social Aspects of Medical Care, Human Behavior, Introduction to Clinical Medicine-III, Microbiology, Military Studies, Pathology, Pharmacology, Preventive Medicine, Radiographic Interpretation, and Parasitology and Medical Zoology. Most of these have substantial clinical correlations. Once these courses conclude, you will have approximately five to six weeks of independent study time prior to taking Step 1 of the licensing exam in June. Students typically take leave after completing Step 1.

Third Year

Your third year is spent almost entirely in hospital settings and consists of a series of clerkships, funded by the University, in the following areas: Internal Medicine (12 weeks, to include inpatient and ambulatory medicine), Surgery (12 weeks, to include anesthesiology, surgical subspecialties, and general surgery), Obstetrics and Gynecology (6 weeks), Pediatrics (6 weeks), Psychiatry (6 weeks), and Family Medicine (6 weeks). Third year students are given grades and written evaluations for each rotation, based in part on written/oral examinations and preceptors' subjective evaluations. Half way through the third year, in approximately mid-December, students come together as a class for the third year "Intersession" week.

To determine when and where these rotations will occur, students use a computer lottery. The aim of this lottery is to make the selections as fair as possible. The system will be explained in detail in November of your second year. Third-year rotations are finalized by spring. Selections of several fourth-year electives are also determined by lottery during this time.

Fourth Year

During the third year of medical school, you will consult individually with school staff to finalize your fourth-year program. It is also during this time that you will be interviewing with hospital programs for your internship, which takes place the year following graduation. The fourth year consists of four-week required sub-internships in primary medicine and surgery and several elective clerkships, including Neurology (4 weeks), Military Contingency Medicine (4 weeks), Military Emergency Medicine (4 weeks), and various other electives. Military Contingency Medicine occurs in the first four weeks of the senior year and includes Bushmaster, a one-week field exercise at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania. During fourth year, you have two "Intersession" periods. The first week-long intercession occurs in late June and the second two-week long intercession occurs in early December.

PAs the four years of medical school comes to an end, students are given time for house hunting in late April, prior to their relocation after graduation. The entire class comes together again in early May for a "Transition to Residency" week and to prepare for graduation and out-processing.


Throughout your third year, you will also be working with staff and faculty who will assist you in the process of securing internships and residencies. For the selection of internships following graduation, students request the hospital programs they prefer. Those programs provide their input to the service-specific boards which meet during late fall of the fourth year to make the selections. The Associate Dean for Student Affairs and the Assistant Dean for Clinical Science write the official letter from the school to support your preference. Known as Medical Student Performance Evaluations or "Dean's letters," these will take into account your entire academic record. The selections are announced following their release by each respective Surgeon's General Office.


State licensing is a requirement to practice medicine in the military. To be licensed, physicians must pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE), a series of four standardized exams. You will take Step 1 (which covers most of the material covered during the first two years) at the end of your second year. You will take Step 2 CK and Step 2 CS (which cover knowledge and skills learned during the clinical clerkships) during your fourth year. After receiving the M.D. degree and upon completion of at least six months of internship, you will take Step 3. Once you have passed all three parts of the exam, you will receive certificates from the National Board of Medical Examiners so that you may pursue registration in the state of your choice.

Affiliated Hospitals

USU utilizes four major teaching hospitals:

  • Malcolm Grow United States Air Force Medical Center
    Andrews Air Force Base, Md.
  • National Naval Medical Center
    Bethesda, Md.
  • Walter Reed Army Medical Center
    Washington, D.C.
  • Wilford Hall United States Air Force Medical Center
    San Antonio, Texas

USU also has many affiliations throughout the United States. This allows for a wide variety of clinical experiences. These hospitals offer programs in the rotating clerkship during the third and fourth years of medical school, as well as internships following graduation. The major affiliates of the program are:

  • Brooke Army Medical Center
    San Antonio, Texas
  • DeWitt Army Community Hospital
    Fort Belvoir, Va.
  • Madigan Army Medical Center
    Tacoma, Wash.
  • Darnall Army Community Hospital
    Fort Hood, Texas
  • Eisenhower Army Medical Center
    Fort Gordon, Ga.
  • Martin Army Community Hospital
    Fort Benning, Ga.
  • Tripler Army Medical Center
    Honolulu, Hawaii
  • William Beaumont Army Medical Center
    El Paso, Texas
  • Womack Army Medical Center
    Fort Bragg, N.C.
  • Bergquist Strategic Hospital
    Offutt Air Force Base, Neb.
  • David Grant United States Air Force Medical Center
    Travis Air Force Base, Calif.
  • Scott United States Air Force Medical Center
    Scott Air Force Base, Ill.
  • Keesler United States Air Force Medical Center
    Keesler Air Force Base, Miss.
  • United States Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine
    San Antonio, Texas
  • Wright-Patterson United States Air Foce Medical Center
    Dayton, Ohio
  • 96th Medical Group
    Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.
  • Naval Aerospace Medical Institute
    Pensacola, Fla.
  • Naval Medical Center
    Portsmouth, Va.
  • Naval Hospital
    Jacksonville, Fla.
  • Naval Hospital
    Pensacola, Fla.
  • Naval Medical Center
    San Diego, Calif.
  • Naval Hospital
    Camp Pendleton, Calif.
  • Naval Hospital
    Bremerton, Wash.
  • Naval Hospital
    Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Academic Support

Medical school is challenging, but not impossible. Significant academic support is built into the system from the beginning of the program. The USU Office for Student Affairs works closely with the various academic departments to support your needs during this important phase of your professional development. Further, Student Affairs will work closely with you on an individual basis, offering counseling and practical advice to prepare you to better meet the demands of the curriculum. Finally, students themselves offer excellent support for their fellow students through small group and individual tutoring, note exchanges and study skills tips. While the school seeks to be aware of your needs as quickly as possible, you should be comfortable asking for help as soon as you perceive a need.