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Photo of Mayo Medical School students in the Multidisciplinary Simulation Center

The Mayo Medical School curriculum is uniquely designed to provide individual education and fully prepare students for the challenges of 21st-century medicine.


At a glance, the Mayo Medical School curriculum is committed to:

  • Active and cooperative learning styles, supported by a pass/fail evaluation system in Year 1 and Year 2 that encourages collaboration by eliminating competition for grades.
  • A focus on patient care and clinical experiences that broaden and deepen classroom learning.
  • Core competencies united by four themes:
    • Basic science
    • Improving the public's health
    • Clinical experiences
    • Pharmaceuticals and therapeutics
  • Integration of daily topic presentations with clinic rotations. For example, first-year students completing the hematology course will be in the hematology clinic that week shadowing doctors and learning firsthand the content being presented in class.
  • Healthy, flexible schedules that allow for optimal learning that leads to long-term understanding: repeated exposure to ideas, time to reflect on new information, remedial support when necessary, and time for rest and renewal.
  • Continuous improvement, assessment and evaluation of the effectiveness of our curriculum through multiple feedback systems.
  • Support and mentorship from interdisciplinary collaborative teams of physicians and staff who are dedicated to the personal and professional development of students.


  • Blocks. Students study one topic at a time for three to seven weeks. This is known as a subject "block." In the first year, students take a series of seven blocks. The blocks address three fundamental themes: basic structure, basic functions and basic principles. For example, Block 1 is Orientation and Improving the Public's Health, and Block 2 is Basic Structure, taught through molecular biology, basic gene expression, basic cell structure and microscopic anatomy.

    In the second year, students take a series of seven blocks that address three more themes: organ systems, pathophysiology, and diagnostics and therapeutics. Morning sessions of the block are thematically reinforced in the afternoon during clinical integration sessions with patients, small groups of students, or in facilitated sessions with faculty members.

  • Selectives. Each block is separated by a flexible one- to two-weeklong academic enrichment period known as a selective. Twelve weeks of selectives are vacation periods that include the winter holiday and summer break. The other weeks are broken into short courses that allow for career exploration or specialty enrichment experiences, such as time in a research lab or in community service.

    Students or faculty may design selectives. A limited number of selectives are required, such as the Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCaTS) — which occurs during the second year — and the "Advanced Doctoring" surgery week.

  • Didactic sessions. Didactic sessions consist of short overview lectures (20 to 30 minutes) followed by faculty-led small group discussions or lab exercises. Tighter focus on essential concepts leads to deeper student engagement, robust attention spans and higher aptitudes for learning.
  • More time in the clinic. Students experience more time in the clinic with patients and less time in lectures and labs. So-called seat time spent in classroom lectures has been reduced from an average of 36 hours a week to an average of about 20 hours a week. This reduction increases time for group learning, collaborative projects, reflection and clinical immersion. This is a significant break with the past.

    By reducing seat time, our school encourages students to take the initiative in learning, know and master individual learning styles, and be thoughtful and attentive to self-care in addition to patient care. Our goal is to nurture extraordinarily successful lifelong learners who are happy, healthy, expert and adaptable physicians.

  • Public health. The Improving the Public's Health theme emphasizes awareness of health care needs of patients and their communities and the importance of developing more-effective means of delivering compassionate, high-quality and effective care.

    The cornerstone of this theme is the Rochester Education and Advocacy for Community Health (REACH) experience. In this two-year program, students put into practice what they are learning about improving the public's health. First-year students are introduced to community organizations and, as second-year students, staff a free clinic under Mayo consultant supervision.

  • Highest patient-to-student ratio anywhere. Embrace clinical immersion by taking full advantage of the 1,165,000 patients who seek care each year at Mayo Clinic. Mayo Medical School has the highest ratio of patients to medical students anywhere in the world, and clinical experiences are therefore abundant and easily available. If cardiac function is the morning classroom topic, Mayo Clinic's cardiology clinic is the afternoon clinical integration venue.

We believe

At Mayo Clinic, we believe our students' energy, empathy, idealism, compassion, creativity and intellectual achievements are one of our greatest assets. We are deeply committed to ensuring that they build a solid foundation on which to improve health care throughout their careers.

  • Feb 19, 2014
  • ART413030