UWSOM Foundations Curriculum


One goal of the School of Medicine is to ensure that students meet all requirements to complete an M.D. degree and become licensed physicians. Mastery of the science important to become exceptional physicians is critical. Student progress toward mastery is frequently assessed, and students will be notified of their status on an ongoing basis. Students who do not demonstrate mastery will be required to remediate.

Click here for an overview of the roles and steps involved in the remediation process.


What is the passing level for blocks and courses?

  • Students must complete blocks, including Research Methods, with a grade of 70% or higher to pass.
  • Foundations of Clinical Medicine is a longitudinal course with the final grade assigned in December of year two, contingent on attendance, completion of all assignments, and evaluation by the student’s mentor, PCP preceptor, and other FCM faculty.
  • The grade for the Ecology of Health in Medicine (EHM) course is determined at the conclusion of each EHM week. Students must attend each session, participate in individual and group projects, and complete each assignment at a quality judged “acceptable” per the assignment’s grade rubric.


What determines mastery in a thread?

Although a grade for a block is assigned at the block’s conclusion, thread mastery is determined at the end of each term:

  • For term 1 (which includes the Molecular & Cellular Basis of Disease and Invaders & Defenders blocks), it is assigned in late December of the first year.
  • For term 2 (which includes the Circulatory Systems, Energetics & Homeostasis, Musculoskeletal System, and Blood & Cancer blocks), it is assigned in June of the first year.
  • For term 3 (which includes the Mind, Brain & Behavior and Lifecycle blocks), it is assigned in December of the second year.

Click here for more information regarding thread mastery.


How will I track my performance in a block or thread?

The University of Washington uses Canvas, a Learning Management System, to provide course content and post student grades. Student can use the “Grades” tab within each block’s Canvas site to monitor their performance in a block. Each block also includes a page titled “Thread Grades” with detailed instructions for checking thread performance.  Course grades are available on MyUW.

See this video for instructions on tracking your thread performance.

The School of Medicine is developing a student dashboard system, where students will be able to assess their progress in multiple components of the curriculum on an ongoing basis. There will be more to follow.


What happens if I don’t pass a block or course, or don’t demonstrate mastery of a thread at the end of a term?  

Failing grades in a block, unsatisfactory mastery of threads, and lack of adequate progress in FCM are reported to the Student Progress Committee (SPC), and the SPC determines next steps. Composed of School of Medicine Faculty, SPC seeks input from the student’s Foundations Dean (or the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs if the student is based in Seattle), block or thread leader, instructors, and College mentor, and reviews the overall progress for each student to date. SPC weighs all factors, then determines the next steps for each student.

Typically, the committee will recommend that a student registers for an independent-study remediation course, wherein they focus their attention on relevant content and take an examination to assess their mastery of the material. The remediation independent study course carries the same credit load as the original Foundations Phase block or course and is determined on a case-by-case basis for a thread. Registration for the remediation course may result in additional tuition cost depending upon the quarter and your credit load.

In some instances (such as several failures or relevant extenuating circumstances) SPC may instead recommend that the student re-takes the block, or that the student takes time away from the curriculum.


What is the process regarding remediation?

Remediation is the process by which students address and rectify a failure in a required block, course, or a lack of mastery in one of the threads. Remediation provides an opportunity for students to focus their studies on, and demonstrate mastery of, material that they may not have grasped initially. Remediation is not a punitive measure; it is designed to ensure that students have been adequately prepared to move forward in the curriculum; the ultimate goal of remediation is to prepare students for the next phases of their training.

Importantly, it is a UWSOM requirement that any required remediation be completed for a student to graduate.


When will I know if I need to remediate? Who will contact me? 

At the end of each block or required course, students will be notified if they have passed or failed that block or course. This notification will come from the site block leader. The information will also be shared with the Foundations Dean at the student’s regional site (or Assistant Dean for Student Affairs if student is in Seattle), the Associate Dean for Curriculum, the  Associate Dean for Student Affairs, the student’s College mentor, and the UWSOM Registrar.

At the completion of each term, each thread director will notify students who have not mastered the thread content for that term. This communication will be shared via memo by the thread leader with the student, Foundations Dean at the student’s regional site (or the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs if the student is based in Seattle), Associate Dean for Curriculum, Associate Dean for Student Affairs, and the student’s College mentor, the UWSOM Registrar.


What happens next? 

When a student is informed of a Fail grade or unsatisfactory thread performance, it is reported at the next meeting of the Student Progress Committee (SPC). SPC determines the student’s next steps, with input from the student’s Foundations Dean (or the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs if the student is based in Seattle), block or thread leader, appropriate instructors, and College mentor, as well as through an overall evaluation of the student’s progress to date. While SPC often requires students to complete a remediation course, they may instead recommend that the student re-takes the block, or that they take time away from the curriculum. Failure to meet satisfactory performance of the remediation will result in notification to the SPC for determination of subsequent action.


Will the failure and/or remediation be on my transcript and MSPE (Dean’s letter)? 

Yes. A failing grade in a block will be noted on your transcript, and the remediation course will appear on your transcript as an independent study course, with a Pass or Fail grade corresponding to whether you successfully remediate. Additionally, your MSPE will include this information under the “Academic History” section (see here for more information).


What is the content of the remediation independent study course? 

The format of remediation courses is at the discretion of the block, course or thread director, but will always conclude with an assessment of the student’s mastery of the material, typically via a multiple-choice or short-answer exam. Students are encouraged to reach out to the block or thread director if they have any questions about the particulars of their independent study process.

Once students are enrolled in the remediation course, block/thread directors and site faculty are available if students have questions about difficult content or need input on how to focus their studying efforts.


When does remediation occur?

Students should generally expected to register for remediation courses according to the following schedule:

  • Term 1 (Molecular & Cellular Basis of Disease, Invaders & Defenders, threads): Summer quarter between term 2 and term 3
  • Term 2 (Circulatory Systems, Energetics & Homeostasis, Musculoskeletal, Blood & Cancer, threads): Summer quarter between term 2 and term 3
  • Term 3 (Mind, Brain & Behavior, Lifecycle, threads): Winter quarter following term 3

Within these parameters, the scheduling of the final examination is to be negotiated by the student, the block, course, or thread director, any supporting faculty members, and the student’s Site Dean. Students are encouraged to schedule examinations to minimize conflicts with other curriculum requirements, such as the Research Methods course in the summer quarter.


What happens after a remediation course? 

If a student successfully completes the remediation course, they may return to the curriculum and complete their remaining credit requirements. If they do not pass the remediation course, they will be referred back to the Student Progress Committee.


How can I learn more about remediation? 

If you have any questions about the remediation process, please contact the School of Medicine’s Foundations Phase curriculum team at foundmed@uw.edu.