UWSOM Foundations Curriculum

Faculty Information

The UW School of Medicine underwent a major revamping of its curriculum in 2015.  It consolidates the basic sciences curriculum into about 16 months of coursework delivered in block fashion, called the Foundations Phase.  Clinical skills training begins the first week of medical school and students begin seeing patients within the first two months of their first year. Faculty in the Primary Care Practicum (PCP) train medical students in primary care practices in Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, and Pediatrics.  Previous teaching experience is not a requirement. We offer in-person and online resources for faculty development.

Course Structure

  • Students will be assigned to your clinic for a minimum of 30 half days during their first year of the Foundations Phase. This could be 30 half days sessions every week, or 15 full day sessions every other week. The schedule depends on your region – you can find it under the WWAMI (Regional Sites) drop-down menu.
  • Your teaching will focus on what you are seeing in your clinic, but we will keep you up-to-date on the curriculum via your student and email updates every two weeks.
  • Preceptors are NOT expected to deliver any curricular content.

“As always, it is of great benefit for us to be exposed to new ideas and directions. I also benefit from the idealism of the students, and have a chance to reconnect with my own sense of purpose.”

The PCP Experience

What kind of experience is this? This is not a shadowing experience. The goal is for the student to obtain clinical experience with increasing independence (always supervised).

What can a student do on day one? Students will be able to do a basic history and physical exam by the first session. They will continue to learn clinical skills throughout their medical school curriculum.

PCP objectives. Students have an “assignment tracker” to log the activities they do in clinic. We hope they will have the opportunity to practice most of the advanced skills they learn in their clinical skills workshops.

Electronic medical record access. It is good for students to have reading access, but remember that they need to think through and learn what information in relevant for a given patient concern. It will inhibit their learning if they are given too much information up front.

What else can students do? Escort patients to the lab or front desk, follow patients to specialty appointments or x-rays. They are permitted to participate in procedures such as pap smears, cryotherapy, MSK injections, IUD placement, suturing, vital signs, etc. within the preceptor’s comfort zone and institutional policy. They can obtain relevant forms and look up a clinical question.

“I think the patients realize and appreciate the service role in creating the next generation of physicians.”

Teaching Responsibilities

Student supervision. 

  • Guide patient selection at the start of each clinic.
  • Provider supervision for 2-3 patients each clinic.
  • Keep up-to-date on what the student is currently learning or studying in their curriculum and clinical skills workshops. When possible, target patient problems and exams to follow student learning – e.g. see patients with back pain when studying the MSK system.
  • While we expect students to observe you in the initial few clinic sessions, this is not an observation/shadowing experience. We expect students to make first contact with patients once they have initial training and for their responsibilities to increase as their skills and your trust in them increase.
  • The student’s college mentor will oversee curricular requirements linked to the PCP, such as SOAP notes and reflections.

Ongoing student feedback and evaluation.

  • Provide student with ongoing feedback about his/her performance at the end of each clinic.
  • Give written feedback at the end of each term. We will be sending out electronic surveys for you to complete.
  • Notify your site director or coordinator if you have any concerns about your student (e.g. consistently late, professionalism issues, struggling in clinic.)

Faculty development, collaboration, and program feedback.

  • Faculty development and training opportunities are available once or twice a year. These are available in-person or via video conferencing. Attend as you are able.
  • Provide feedback and suggestions for improving the overall experience for students and faculty.

“Students make us think about the meaning of what we do, and how to adapt the level of teaching we should use. Fresh, new students remind us to keep it simple and communicate as we would with patients and family all the way up to the really sharp students who ensure we know what we are talking about, and how to learn more.”

Attendance Policy

Students are expected to email their preceptor about any absences. In the same way, preceptors should let students know if they plan to be out of the clinic on a scheduled PCP day (e.g. planned vacation). Students and preceptors should exchange contact information (email/phone number) that is good for last minute updates (e.g. absence due to illness). Any missed PCP sessions should be made up on a date that works for both parties.


PCP students are evaluated each term based on milestones. The milestones for each term describe specific behaviors that a student should be able to demonstrate at that point in time based on their Foundations of Clinical Medicine curriculum and time in the Primary Care Practicum.

Click here for more information specific to Clinical Faculty.