Saint Louis University

Curriculum Overview

Philosophy and Goals of the Curriculum

The primary goal of our medical school is to provide you with the educational experiences and opportunities that will allow you to develop an outstanding foundation that will serve you well no matter what specialty and career path that you follow. In addition, we hope that our students will achieve the following outcomes:

• Excellent performance on USMLE exams
• Success in matching into competitive residency programs across the country
• Excellent personal health and well-being
• A passion for some area of medicine or an area related to medicine

We have an excellent track record in each of the above areas and our curriculum continues to evolve as we continue to strive to improve. The basic science curriculum described later in this document provides excellent preparation for the USMLE Step 1 examination and our students consistently perform above the national average on this exam. Our clinical training provides outstanding preparation for residency and our students match each year at some of the strongest, most competitive programs in the country.

In addition to our academic outcomes, we are very concerned about our students' health and well-being. The reality is that across the US, for too many students, medical school can be a stressful and dispiriting experience. We feel that medical school does not have to be that way. Over the last several years, we have made a number of changes to the curriculum that are consistent with our Jesuit mission of educating the whole person - mind, body, heart, and spirit, and that are designed to reduce stress and to promote good mental health among our students.

• Changed from a tiered grading system to pass/ fail grading in the first two years
• Instituted longitudinal electives that span the first two years with on average one full day every two weeks set  aside for electives.
• Developed learning communities in Service and Advocacy, Research, Global Health, Wellness, and Medical Education.
• Instituted a required resilience and mindfulness curriculum for first year students
• Expanded extra-curricular events to promote wellness

These curricular changes have resulted in substantially improved mental health of our students. Our goal, however, is not just to reduce stress and prevent anxiety and depression, rather, we hope to see that all of our students flourish. We believe that to flourish, students need to feel positive, feel engaged, and find some measure of meaning in their work. Avenues for students to find meaning and engagement include electives, learning communities, student interest groups, and volunteering. Examples of activities that students have been engaged in include:

• Developed and delivered health information classes to new immigrants at the International Institute of St. Louis
• Provided basic medical care to underserved in a the student-run Health Resource Center clinic
• Taught high school biology at Clyde C. Miller High School
• Tutored middle-schoolers through the Urban Futures Program
• Developed new electives in global health, child development, and caring for patients with cancer.
• 70 first-year students participated last year in research experiences with our basic science and clinical faculty.

Many of these activities have been student-led and student-directed and it's exciting to see the collective creative potential of our students increasingly be realized.

We're very proud of our curriculum, our educational culture, our students and their accomplishments.


Stuart J. Slavin, MD, MEd
Associate Dean for Curriculum
Chair, Curriculum Management Committee


Higher purpose. Greater good.
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