Clerkship Period and Scholarly Activities

Students make rounds at Parkland Hospital during their clerkship
Students rounding at Parkland Hospital during clerkship.

Clerkships start in the middle of the second academic year following the systematic presentation of integrated basic science and clinical topics during the pre-clerkship months. By starting clerkships sooner, medical students have the opportunity to explore more clinical fields to assist them in deciding on their ultimate career specialty. Students who have already decided on a discipline for training are able to explore a selected topic in greater depth or broaden clinical experiences with other opportunities.

Key elements of the clerkship phase are:

  • Flexibility and Personalization

    This 18-month period gives students the flexibility and the chance to intersperse other educational opportunities among their clerkship training and develop a personalized learning plan based on their individual priorities and interests. These may include laboratory or clinical research, electives, or scholarly concentration within some of the blocks. Electives could be scheduled at various times during the 18 months, assuming completion of the prerequisite clerkships.

  • Preparation for USMLE Step 1

    Students have up to six weeks off during the first semester of the clinical curriculum to prepare for and take the USMLE Step 1. The timing of this is left up to the student. Evidence shows that some students improve their performance on the USMLE Step 1 after having some clinical experience, so some may prefer not to take the exam immediately after the pre-clerkship period.

  • Clerkships

    The current required clerkships take place over 48 weeks:

    • Internal Medicine – 8 weeks
    • Surgery – 8 weeks
    • Pediatrics – 6 weeks
    • Obstetrics/Gynecology – 6 weeks
    • Psychiatry – 6 weeks
    • Ambulatory Care – 6 weeks
    • Neurology – 4 weeks
    • Family Medicine – 4 weeks
  • Faculty and Peer Mentorship

    Academic Colleges continue longitudinally during the clerkship period, with small groups meeting monthly with their respective mentors and including such topics as ethics, professionalism, health systems, quality improvement, clinical reasoning, and career advising.

New Curriculum Clerkship Period: Academic Colleges (weekly); Growth and Exploration (January through June of years 2 and 3); USMLE Prep (6 weeks total, January through June); Clinic Core Blocks (48 weeks total, January through June of third year); Scholarly Activity (January through June of years 2 and 3)
Clerkship Curriculum – View PDF version

Scholarly Activity

Scholarly activity is an important component of the curriculum at UT Southwestern Medical School. It supports our dedication to providing students with opportunities to grow in diverse areas with novel career opportunities that excite and inspire. Scholarly activity provides students with skills for scholarly inquiry based on ethical principles with a focus on discovery of new knowledge skillfully transmitted to others.

The scholarly activity rotation will be scheduled during the clerkship and post-clerkship periods. Other than participation in the Academic Colleges, this 12-week period will be solely devoted to scholarly activity.

Students choose from six tracks. These tracks are not all-inclusive; the curriculum allows for the development of additional topics based on student interest and faculty guidance. It is also possible for a small group of students to participate in a joint project. The completion of each activity involves a final “product” to be defined by the organizing committee of each track.