Quinnipiac University Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine

Medical Doctor Clinical Arts and Sciences Course

The Clinical Arts and Sciences course provides students the opportunity to interview, examine and diagnose simulated and real patients from the beginning of their medical training.

Course Overview

During the first two years of the MD program, the curriculum is organized around three integrated courses that provide students with a comprehensive view of evidence-based medicine:

  • Foundations of Medicine (18 hours/week)
  • Scholarly Reflection and Concentration/Capstone Course (4 hours/week)
  • Clinical Arts and Sciences (6 hours/week)

The two-year Clinical Arts and Sciences course prepares students for the hands-on aspects of clinical care by building the skills, knowledge and attitudes needed to practice medicine. The course is taught in a small group setting by experienced physicians.


The CAS course has two sections:

  1. Foundations of Clinical Care (FCC): This is a two-year section dedicated to teaching fundamental clinical skills, predominantly in a small group setting.
  2. Medical Student Home (MeSH): In September of the first year, each medical student is paired with a practicing community physician. The goal is to provide each medical student with a supervised environment to practice fundamental clinical skills with patients.


Both sections of the CAS course are designed to enable students to integrate basic science and clinical learning throughout the pre-clerkship period.


  1. Learning how to communicate with, interview and examine patients.
  2. Documenting patient encounters and giving oral patient presentations.
  3. Learning clinical reasoning and the diagnostic process.
  4. Exploring and solidifying one’s understanding of professionalism.

Learning Activities

The CAS course is designed to simulate clinical practice, relying on:

  1. Collaboration: Students will collaborate with peers, preceptors, other health care professionals and patients. By working together with others, clinicians improve the ultimate outcome: better patient care.
  2. Role play: Just like practicing an instrument or sport, performance improves with iterative practice of key skills under supervision, simulating “recital/game time” conditions.
  3. Self, peer and preceptor assessment with feedback: In clinical practice, feedback comes from peers, other health care professionals, patients and self-assessment. It is critically important to understand how to give and receive feedback and then implement that feedback to improve skills.
  4. Knowing your limitations and asking for help: When patient care is at stake, it is critical that the treating physician acknowledge when he/she needs help. At some point during this course, you may find that you need help. Please seek it actively.

Medical Student Home (MeSH)

A medical student uses a stethoscope to hear the pulse of a patient

The Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine’s commitment to educate students through the lens of a primary care physician led to the creation of the MeSH program. Rather than being an ancillary part of your education, MeSH is a centerpiece of the pre-clerkship curriculum.

In order to match students with preceptors, both are surveyed to establish preferences and every effort is made to provide students with one of their top five choices. Preference documents are provided in the spring before the start of the first year, to preceptors and incoming students.

Beginning in October of your first year, you will spend one day per week at either an internal medicine, pediatric, family medicine, or occasionally, a subspecialty practice, learning from a physician mentor at that site. This will become the foundation for all of your Netter patient care experiences. There, you will practice communicating with patients and their families as well as office staff and other health care providers. You will become an integral part of your MeSH site, interviewing and examining patients and engaging in clinical reasoning skills to make diagnoses and assist in creating treatment plans.

The MeSH program is fortunate enough to recruit community physicians from across Connecticut, including sites that are rural, suburban, and urban and that care for underserved communities. While the majority of these physicians practice internal medicine, family medicine and pediatrics, other specialties are represented.

Every attempt is made to integrate the student's “on-campus“ learning with his or her experience at the MeSH site. For example, when students learn about cardiac physiology they also learn about the cardiac examination and pertinent cardiac history and practice putting that all together at their MeSH site.

Objectives for First-Year Students

By the end of the first year, students will be able to:

  • Communicate effectively with patients and their families, and with colleagues and staff.
  • Obtain a complete, or focused medical history, with structure in accordance with FCC standards, as confirmed by evaluated documentation and OSCE performances.
  • Perform a complete physical examination, as detailed in FCC teaching, as confirmed by evaluated documentation and OSCE performances.
  • Organize data obtained from patients and document a patient note, adhering to standard formatting, including the patient history and physical examination, but not an assessment or plan.
  • With supervision, be able to complete at least three common office-based procedures.
  • Describe the non-clinical aspects of community practice, such as the roles of the support staff, the required interactions with third-party payers and the regulatory environment.
Objectives for Second-Year Students

By the end of the second year, students will be able to:

  • Communicate effectively and comfortably with patients and their families and take a complete or focused medical history.
  • By the end of the year, the student will have further developed his/her ability to perform a complete or focused physical examination.
  • By the end of the year, the student will be able to analyze data obtained from patients and document a complete medical history and physical, including an assessment and plan.
Current Preceptor Specialties
  • Cardiology
  • Dermatology
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Endoscopy
  • Family Medicine
  • Gastroenterology
  • Geriatrics
  • Hematology
  • Infectious Disease
  • Internal Medicine
  • Nephrology
  • Neurology
  • Pediatrics
  • Pulmonary
  • Surgery/Women's Health

In Their Words

Medical student Brian Wasicek checks the heartbeat of a young patient

Brian Wasicek, MD ’20

MeSH Program

“It’s a challenging experience, but it’s also fun. Each week, you have the chance to get out and be reminded again of why you’ve chosen this path. It’s incredibly rewarding.”

Standardized Patient and Assessment Center (S-PAC)

A medical student and professor examine the back of a standardized patient

Students at the Netter School of Medicine benefit from training with standardized patients (SPs) in our Standardized Patient and Assessment Center (S-PAC). SPs are trained to portray patients in various medical situations for the purpose of student learning and evaluation. Medical cases are based on real patient scenarios that can be adjusted in complexity, depending on a student’s clinical skills. SPs also are trained to evaluate students in a consistent and measurable way so they can provide feedback on the student’s history taking, physical exam technique and interpersonal skills.

Medical students use the S-PAC through all four years of their curriculum for model patient sessions, Objective Structured Clinical Exams (OSCEs), and procedural learning and practice.

First year
  • One-on-one patient interviews begin during the first month of school
  • During the school year, students complete six OSCEs and one 5-station final exam OSCE
  • Students use SPs as model patients to learn and practice physical exams
Second year
  • Students complete nine OSCEs: Five OSCEs, one 4-station OSCE mid-year, one 5-station final exam OSCE and two OSCEs with direct observation from faculty
  • Students use the SPs to learn and practice physical exams throughout the CAS course
Third year
  • There are six OSCEs at the end of each of six specific clerkships
  • There are three OSCEs to practice a specific clinical skill, such as working with an angry patient, addressing alcohol abuse or counseling a patient about intimate partner violence
  • There is a three-station final practice/preparation OSCE for the Step 2 CS exam
  • Students learn and practice 16 more advanced procedures, such as intubating patients, instrument suturing and knot tying
Fourth year
  • The S-PAC helps to facilitate the seven additional procedures that are taught during the fourth year Emergency Medicine and Critical Care clerkships
S-PAC Director

Gabbriel Ceccolini, Standardized Patient and Assessment Center director

Course Leadership

Course Administrator