The School of Medicine at Duke was
founded in 1930. The Medical Center, which includes
the School of Medicine, the School of Nursing, and a
hospital, is located on the West Campus. These
health care facilities are all part of Duke University, an
institution established in 1924 by James Buchanan
Duke, industrialist and philanthropist. His original
endowment served to transform Trinity College in
Durham, North Carolina into today’s world-renowned institution of higher learning.
The school of medicine typically entails a 4-year program. The first year introduces students
to the basic sciences, which are the building units of
medicine. The subjects are condensed into the essentials
necessary for medical practice and serve as the basis for
clinical studies, which begin in the following year.
Courses are taught in blocks, so that students need to
concentrate on no more than three major areas at a time. The
lecture-based courses are integrated within the same
block,so that relevant material is taught together.
During their second year, students begin seeing patients
full time. An intense three-week preparatory period enables
them to undertake clinical clerkships in internal medicine, surgery, obstetrics/gynecology, and pediatrics. The
basic science principles learned become meaningful and
are reinforced in the course of working with patients. The
clinical exposure permits the student to become familiar
with the major patient-care disciplines and thus facilitates making thoughtful decisions concerning the path to
pursue during the elective third and fourth years.
Year three provides an opportunity for significant
personal growth. Students are permitted to study an
area of particular interest in depth. Each student chooses
an independent scholarship project and enrolls in the
appropriate general study program. All third-year projects last between eight and nine months. Faculty advisors help the student design a study program that best meets the individual’s
needs. The program serves to encourage a lifelong commitment to scholarship and enhances one’s medical
education regardless of their ultimate goal.
The fourth year is the most flexible, rounding out the student’s medical education. It offers opportunities for sampling areas of interest, becoming more comfortable with patients, mastering the
core competencies that have not yet been achieved, and
deciding on one’s postgraduate training.
The school of medicine follows a strict pass/fail system. The USMLE exam is
not required for promotion or graduation. Records of
students are reviewed periodically by promotion committees consisting of course directors.
Pre-clinical teaching takes place in the Thomas
D. Kinney Central Teaching Laboratory. Clinical instruction takes place at Duke Hospital and at the
Durham VA Hospital. To supplement student research, the Medical
Center Library houses more than 200,000 volumes and
subscribes to 5,000 periodicals. The Trent Collection
includes books on the history of medicine and is considered noteworthy for the Southeast.
The school has an active minority recruitment program. Combined-degree programs include the Medical
Scientist Training Program for the MD-PhD, the
Medical Historian Training Program for the MD-PhD,
the MD-JD program for a joint medical and legal
degree, and the MD-MPH for a medical degree and a
Masters in Public Health.
Required courses include the basic premedical science
courses, one year of calculus, and one year of English (consisting primarily of expository English composition).
An introductory course in biochemistry is suggested
during the senior year. Residence does not influence
admissions decision. The school does not typically accept transfer students or advanced standing requests, except in unusual circumstances.
Off-campus housing is easily available and affordable.
Josh is a full-time professional writer and organic farmer who lives in rural Kentucky.