Skip to main content

Department of Family Medicine MD Education

Physician educators and researchers in the family medicine department at IU School of Medicine participate in the training of all MD students through a required clerkship rotation. Medical students have the opportunity to participate in many family medicine electives as well, including global health in Latin America, alternative spring break, and the summer language and cultural immersion in Nicaragua.

Clinical Clerkship Rotations

The Family Medicine Clerkship is a required four-week clinical rotation for third-year medical students at IU School of Medicine. During this rotation, medical students learn the important and unique role that family medicine physicians play in the health care system, as students work side-by-side with practicing physicians in urban cities, small towns and rural areas throughout Indiana.

In this clerkship, medical students develop knowledge, skills and attitudes required to approach a patient and his/her diagnoses in the primary care setting. Students observe how family medicine physicians provide for the ongoing medical needs of their patients within the context of the family and community setting. Additionally, students learn how to focus on discrete portions of a patient’s medical history and physical concerns within the confines of the patient’s total health. On this clerkship rotation, students meet patients who present with acute medical problems as well as those who are chronically ill or may need preventive health education. Some patients may simply be seeking the support of a physician to cope with the stresses of everyday life. Most importantly, students see patients interacting with their personal physician and witness first-hand the therapeutic power of the doctor-patient relationship.

Family Medicine Sub-Internship

The Family Medicine Sub-Internship is offered to Phase 3 students and is a four-week inpatient clerkship. During the time spent in the sub-internship, students will experience the life of a family medicine resident, pushing personal limits to acquire the skills needed for preparation to residency. This is a robust hospitalist opportunity within the family medicine philosophy of interprofessional collaboration with all the hospital services.

Students are assigned to inpatient medicine teams that care for patients in the ward setting, depending on each hospital’s organization. Some teams will be only a sub-intern and faculty (hospitalists), while other teams will consist of an attending physician, a resident physician and one or two interns. Students are given primary patient care responsibilities with close supervision (provided by the team’s resident and/or attending physicians), guided experience in diagnostic and therapeutic decision-making. Students will provide care to two to six patients at a time, admit new patients and cover their own patients. The optimal patient load is one that pushes the abilities of the student.

ENLACE Nicaragua Summer Language and Cultural Immersion

The ENLACE Nicaragua Language and Cultural Immersion program offers an intensive summer immersion Spanish-language study with onsite exposure to primary and community health care in a developing country. This four-week international global health experience is available to fourth-year medical students and includes all the components of a fantastic summer adventure: international travel, cultural immersion, a service project, Spanish classes and clinical shadowing. The program is designed to immerse MD students in a developing country to gain a direct understanding of the language as well as the systematic, policy and experiential differences between health care in the US and other countries.

In the first week, students receive a historical and cultural introduction to Nicaragua and participate in a four-day public health initiative constructing composing latrines in a mountain village. During weeks two through four, students live in the community of La Concepción with a host family, participating in daily Spanish classes, shadowing Nicaragua health care providers and volunteering in the community.

Peer Support

In addition to the IU School of Medicine student support services, medical students can also find critical support from their peers. Participants in the Family Medicine student interest group (FMSIG) benefit from faculty and upper classmen advice and experiences to prepare for matching into competitive Family Medicine residency programs.