Lecture/Discussion Pathway Courses Phase 1

Lecture presentations and laboratories are at the heart of the Lecture/Discussion Pathway. Students usually spend the morning in lecture sessions and the afternoon in a combination of lectures, laboratories, tutorials, small-group discussions and independent study where they have ample access to faculty members in the basic and clinical sciences.

The Lecture/Discussion Pathway is ideal for those students who:

  • Learn well from a combination of presentations and readings; and,
  • Are more comfortable in a teacher-directed environment.

Phase I: Core Curriculum

The beginning of the first year is designed to introduce students to the basic concepts of Gross Anatomy, Embryology, Histology, Biochemistry, Immunology, Microbiology, Pathology, Pharmacology and Physiology. Coursework and clinical training in osteopathic principles and practice is also interwoven throughout the Phase I curriculum. An introduction to medical ethics is also presented in year one. Physicians must be acutely aware of the interrelationships between the practice of medicine and the business of medicine. The areas where these cross over are identified within the Health Care Management course, where emphasis is placed on non-clinical aspects of practicing medicine. During Phase II of the curriculum, each of the basic sciences is further developed, thus providing continuity in the educational process, which promotes learning rather than memorization.

Clinical Human Gross Anatomy

Clinical Human Gross Anatomy is a lecture-discussion/prosection-dissection course wherein didactic lectures provide the student with knowledge necessary for successful sequential discovery of the structure of the human body. The knowledge gained from this experience leads the student to develop a fine appreciation for not only the structure of the human body, but also how each part is related to every other part. Clinical correlations are included within the lecture portion of this course to familiarize the student with clinical situations he or she may encounter in clinical medicine. Models, radiographs, computer software and special demonstrations are used to facilitate learning. Emphasis is placed throughout on structure-function relationships and the clinical applications of such knowledge.


Microbiology/Immunology is designed to introduce the student to core concepts in immunology and infectious diseases. Specifically, in the immunology component, students learn the basic concepts of immunology, such as the innate and acquired immune systems. The focus of the course is on the immune response to various microbial agents, as well as the failures of the immune system, such as hypersensitivity, autoimmunity, immunodeficiency and transplantation reactions. The microbiology section of the course is a lecture/laboratory course designed to provide the student with knowledge of infectious diseases, the organisms responsible and the response of the body to the presence of these agents. The structure, function and genetics of bacterial and viral organisms and their relationships to pathogenicity will be discussed. Students will be introduced to the groups of pathogenic organisms, including prions, viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites. Particular emphasis will be placed on the bacterial agents associated with the infectious diseases most commonly seen by the osteopathic primary physician. Virulence mechanisms and laboratory identification features will be covered during this course, with more in-depth coverage of the disease process of these organisms occurring during the systems. Prions, viruses, fungi and parasites will be discussed in the system with which they are most closely associated. Laboratories introduce students to aseptic techniques and proper handling and disposal of hazardous materials. In addition, students become familiar with some of the most commonly-used tests for laboratory identification of bacterial pathogens.


Physiology presents an integrated approach to the fundamental concepts of physiology. Basic terminology and concepts are introduced and clinically relevant examples are presented. The course provides an overall understanding of the homeostatic functions of the autonomic nervous system, how physiological cell membranes regulate intercellular (electrical) conduction and the maintenance of the body fluids, as well as cellular functioning of skeletal, cardiac, and smooth muscle. The course includes a basic introduction to cardiovascular, respiratory, renal, endocrine and neurophysiology. The core course is designed to provide first-year students with a solid foundation of basic physiological principles that will be built upon in the subsequent systems courses and clinical applications.


Core Clinical Pharmacology is an introductory series of lectures designed to orient medical students to the effects of drugs on humans in both normal and pathologic states. The first portion of pharmacology deals with general principles in pharmacology, including drug absorption, distribution, action, toxicity, biotransformation and elimination. The second portion of pharmacology focuses upon chemotherapeutic agents used in pharmacological principles previously presented. Concepts and principles that are important for the rational evaluation and utilization of drugs are introduced for application in future clinical scenarios. Pharmacotherapeutics is included throughout to complement subsequent presentations.

Biochemistry Core I

Courses are designed to provide the osteopathic medical student with a basic understanding of the biochemical principles that underlie normal cellular and physiological processes. These principles are the foundation for the medical explanation regarding molecular mechanisms of many clinical disorders. Throughout the course, clinical correlations are introduced to illustrate the linkages between basic biochemical principles and human disorders. This course will also provide the student with a broad base of knowledge to help facilitate his/her continuing medical education. The Biochemistry Core course is divided into two distinct courses, Biochemistry I and Biochemistry II (including medical genetics). Biochemistry I, taught in the fall semester of the MSI year, will provide the student with basic tenets of biochemistry and introduce the student to various metabolic pathways of the body, and diseases that occur as a result of dysfunction.

Biochemistry Core II and Medical Genetics

Biochemistry II and medical genetics, taught in the spring semester of the MS I year, will build upon the information learned in Biochemistry Core I and fully prepare students for special biochemistry topics that are presented throughout each of the 10 organ systems. In addition, the medical genetics portion of the curriculum will cover such topics as: autosomal dominant and recessive inheritance, sex-linked and mitochondrial inheritance, clinical cytogenetics, key disorders of metabolism, developmental genetics, cancer genetics, multifactorial inheritance and gene therapy.

Osteopathic Principles and Practice

The Osteopathic Principles and Practice course is designed as an introduction to the basic philosophy, principles and practice of osteopathic integrative health care. The course is offered continually throughout the four semesters of Phase I and Phase II. Emphasis is placed on the sequential development of palpatory diagnostic and therapeutic skills used to assess health and disease. The overall course integrates the osteopathic philosophy of patient care with the systems approach of medical education. The course teaches osteopathic philosophy, problem solving and patient management, and ways to incorporate multiple osteopathic manipulative techniques as appropriate, including muscle energy, fascial release, high velocity - low amplitude, counterstrain, articulatory techniques and osteopathic medicine in the cranial field. Application of these principles and practices continue throughout the clinical rotations of Phase III. The course also offers an introduction to principles and philosophy of complementary and alternative medicine. Course material for Spirituality and Medical Ethics, as they pertain to the practicing physician, is integrated in learning activities during the OPP II course.


Pathology is the science that seeks to provide a bridge between other basic sciences and the clinical sciences. It involves the study of the nature of disease, its causes, courses, complications and sequelae. This core course provides an introduction to the basic changes in the morphology of cells, tissues and organs in diseased states. Extensive exposure to clinically relevant topics helps the student differentiate between abnormal and normal, and to correlate the clinical aspects of these alterations. Also included is a discussion on general characteristics, classification and differential diagnosis of cysts, benign and malignant tumors and other neoplastic entities. Cell injury and cell death, inflammation, repair processes, hemodynamic changes, neoplasia, and chemical and physical injuries are also discussed. Throughout the first two years, pathology is represented in each of the systems to discuss the pathologies peculiar to and characteristic of the various systems of the body.

Health Care Management

The first priority of all healthcare professionals has always been to provide high quality patient care. Today’s physicians, however, are expected to assume further executive and managerial responsibilities in addition to their clinical duties. Amid an increasingly regulated legal environment, physicians face a myriad of business decisions, strategic planning issues, contract negotiations and compliance mandates. In this regard, this course will introduce the osteopathic medical student to management, marketing, accounting, financial and economical concepts as they relate to the healthcare industry. Health Care Management is presented in the first year of the curriculum - Part I in the fall and Part II in the spring - and during specific clinical rotations.


Histology is a lecture course that offers knowledge about the ultrastructure of human tissues. Histology often provides the link between morphology and function of the specific organs/tissues, hence it is necessary for understanding physiology and pathophysiology at the deeper level. Moreover, students are expected to be able to recognize human histological specimens with basic stainings, that is essential for the future pathohistological studies. The Histology course is clinically oriented and intended to provide the necessary histological knowledge that future physicians need in diagnosis and treatment.