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Educational Philosophy

The University of the Incarnate Word School of Osteopathic Medicine (UIWSOM) Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) Program curriculum stresses independent study and self-directed learning. The 4-year program begins by building upon small and large group interactive case-based learning experiences, and focuses on conceptual knowledge acquisition, critical thinking, and clinical reasoning—not rote memorization and recall of facts.

All engagements with faculty facilitators are designed to utilize assessment to guide learning and evaluation to improve outcomes.  All UIWSOM educational programs are built upon and is continuously informed by these guiding principles:

  • Reflect the UIW and UIWSOM mission, vision, and values
  • Support adult learning and educational principles.
  • Synthesize the science of medical knowledge for clinical practice.
  • Develop critical thinking, clinical reasoning, and reflective practice.
  • Integrateosteopathic principles in education and professional practice


In 2003, the Institute of Medicine (now, the National Academy of Medicine) published a report, Health Professions Education: A Bridge to Quality, highlighting the reforms necessary for healthcare professionals to be adequately prepared for 21st century medicine and beyond.  As part of their program of research in professional preparedness, As part of a series (recommend delete one of these “as a part ofs”) the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching sponsored the authorship of Educating Physicians: A Call for Reform of Medical School and Residency (2010).  Rooted in Flexner’s (1910) seminal work, Educating Physicians argued that medical schools would need to adopt key educational practices in order to produce the next generation of physicians, including an intentional integration of clinically applied biomedical sciences, early exposure to experiential learning and professional identity formation, an emphasis on healthcare teams, social accountability and cultural awareness.

To this end, the UIWSOM DO curriculum was developed from the ground up as an integrated curriculum designed to spiral content throughout all phases of the program and to support osteopathic medical students in their attainment of the knowledge, skills and abilities (or attitudes?) expected at each level of training, culminating with entry into graduate medical education programs.

Curriculum Overview

The UIWSOM curriculum is divided into four phases that includes weekly longitudinal community engagement and early clinical experience activities

Phases I and II are comprised of eight integrated units with unit nine serving as a capstone.  All units are organized around weekly themes that illustrate our curricular components: osteopathic principles and practices, professional identity formation and applied biomedical sciences.  Additionally, six curricular threads are weaved throughout the curriculum and include: Mental Health and Wellness, Spirituality, Social Accountability, Service and Scholarship, Student Success, Mentoring and Advising, Board Preparation, Evidence-based Medicine. Contact hours are limited each week to allow for ample self-directed learning time, review and reinforcement. 

Phase I 

1. Essentials/EMT

2. MSK, Touch and Personhood

3. Molecules, Cells, Compassion

4. Host Defense and Communication

5. GI System, Nutrition, Appetite

Phase II

6. Circulation, Respiration, Regulation

7. Endocrine Reproduction Respect

8. Mind Brain, and Behavior

9. Capstone (Spirituality, Mental Health and Wellness)

Phase III consists of required six-week core rotations.  A Reflection, Integration and Assessment week is scheduled every 12 weeks between every two rotations. An OPP/OMM longitudinal integrated clerkship (LIC) component is part of Phase III. The following core rotations are:

Family Medicine

Internal Medicine

General Surgery


Hospital Medicine


Women’s Health

Medically Underserved (rural or urban)

Phase IV consists of a required four-week Emergency Medicine core rotation, three selectives, and five elective rotations.

At the end of Phase IV, students participate in COMLEX-USA Level 2-CE and Level 2-PE preparation and travel for the examination.  Student engage in a three week Ready for Residency unit, during which they are assessed for the entry-level ACGME PGY1 Entrustable Professional Activities (EPAs).

A visual map of the curriculum can be found here. 

UIWSOM Class of 2021 Phase Timeline (after opening, press CTRL + or CMD + to increase viewing size)