Doctor in Medicine

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By submitting this form, you are giving your express written consent for Ponce Health Sciences University to contact you regarding our educational programs and services using email, telephone, or text - including our use of automated technology for calls or texts to the number you provided here. This consent is not required to purchase goods or services. You may opt-out at any time.

Program Description

The medical education curriculum is a 4-year program with a duration of 164 weeks that reflects our mission to educate bilingual ethical professionals who provide compassionate, culturally competent health care.

The program consists of two years of preclinical courses in the core basic science disciplines of Gross Anatomy, Histology & Cell Biology, Biochemistry, Physiology, Pathology, Pharmacology, Microbiology/Immunology, and Neurosciences with the integration of clinical content and early clinical experiences through Pathophysiology, Introduction to Clinical Skills, Behavioral Sciences and Basic Psychiatry. The first two years of the curriculum integrate longitudinal programs in Preventive and Community Medicine, Clinical Correlation (Problem-Based Learning), Geriatrics, Interprofessional Perspectives on Health Disparities, and Medical Ethics. The preclinical curriculum emphasizes active learning modalities using a flipped classroom model. Classroom interactive response systems (iClickers) allow students to participate in polls and answer questions during class. In addition to clinical correlations and case discussions, this teaching modality enables the students to apply knowledge to real case situations and assess their understanding of the core concepts.

The clinical phase begins in the third year with the core clinical clerkships in Pediatrics, Internal Medicine, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Family Medicine, Psychiatry, and Surgery. The curriculum includes longitudinal courses provided during the third year, Professional Development I & II, and Radiology. The Professional Development courses exposed students to general education and humanism topics, including the history of medicine, translational research, medical practice, and preparation for residency programs. The fourth year complements these core clinical experiences with Internal Medicine, Emergency Medicine, and Primary Care Selective. Six 4-week elective rotations provide additional clinical experiences in several subspecialty fields that prepare the student for the next level of training.

In addition to the main campus in the south of the island in Ponce, Puerto Rico, PHSU SOM have another three campuses. One in St Louis, Missouri, where students do the four years, and two regional clinical campuses in Puerto Rico, one in the west (Mayaguez Campus) and the other in the north of the island (San Juan Campus), where the student does the required third-year clerkship.

The MD program is available at Ponce, PR (Main Campus) and St. Louis, MO.


To educate bilingual ethical professionals who provide compassionate, culturally competent health care and generate high impact research to reduce health disparities in the populations we serve in Puerto Rico and the US, through high quality education in a diverse environment.


To be recognized as a world leader in the delivery of bilingual culturally-competent medical education.

By the time of graduation, students are expected to:


Medical Knowledge:  Medical student must demonstrate knowledge about established and evolving biomedical, clinical, epidemiological and socio-behavioral sciences as well as the application of this knowledge to patient care.

  • Explain the normal structure and function of the body and of each of its major organ systems; as well as the molecular, biochemical and cellular mechanisms that are important in maintaining the body’s homeostasis.
  • Explain the genetic, developmental, metabolic, toxic, microbiologic, autoimmune, neoplastic, degenerative and traumatic causes of disease states and their pathogenesis.
  • Identify epidemiological and other factors that place individuals at risk for disease or injury, select appropriate tests for detecting risks and determine preventive strategies for responding appropriately.
  • Interpret the results of commonly used diagnostic studies.
  • Formulate appropriate management strategies in the care for patients with common conditions, both acute and chronic, including pain and rehabilitation.
  • Describe the mechanisms by which therapeutic agents work and apply the principles of pharmacology in patient care.

Patient Care:  Students must be able to provide patient care that is compassionate, appropriate and effective for the promotion of health and for the treatment of health problems.

  • Demonstrate caring and respectful behaviors when interacting with patients and their families.
  • Obtain a complete and accurate medical history that covers all the essential aspects of the history taking in a patient-centered interview. Identify health issues and correlate with patient’s age, gender, cultural, spiritual beliefs, psychological and socio-economic status.
  • Perform a comprehensive and/or a problem-focused physical examination, including a mental status examination and accurately interpret the findings.
  • Formulate, using clinical reasoning an initial diagnostic impression and differential diagnosis.
  • Recommend appropriate diagnostic studies and therapeutic management plan based on patient information and preferences, current scientific evidence and clinical judgment.
  • Perform or assist during routine technical procedures, including but not limited to: venous and arterial puncture; placement of an intravenous line, transurethral and nasogastric catheters and suturing of simple wounds.
  • Recognize patients with life threatening conditions, with serious physical and or mental acute/chronic conditions in need of critical care and institute appropriate initial therapy.
  • Counsel and educate patients care givers and families about patient’s condition and aspects of health promotion and prevention.
  • Solve clinical problems in the context of culture, psychological, socio-economic status and the spiritual-health beliefs and needs of the patient.

Interpersonal and Communication Skills:  Students must demonstrate interpersonal and communication skills that result in the effective interchange of information and collaboration with patients, their families and health professionals.

  • Develop a team relationship with patients and their families to provide patient centered care.
  • Use a patient centered approach with effective listening and communication skills during the medical interview.
  • Demonstrate effective oral and written communication skills in English and Spanish, with patients, their families and health professionals.
  • Document patient information in a comprehensive, timely and legible electronic or written medical record.
  • Demonstrate leadership skills as a member of a health care team and other professional groups.
  • Demonstrate effective interaction with colleagues and health care professionals to provide patient-centered care.

Practice-based Learning and ImprovementStudents must be able to investigate and evaluate their care of patients, appraise and assimilate scientific evidence and continuously improve patient care based on constant self-evaluation and life-long learning.

  • Demonstrate capacity to accept personal limitations and continuously improve one’s medical knowledge and clinical skills.
  • Identify the information resources and tools available to support life-long learning and self-improvement.
  • Review and incorporate the most current and relevant evidence based information in the diagnosis and management of patients.
  • Explain how to conduct clinical and translational research, its scientific and ethical principles and apply the results and evidence derived from those studies to patient care.

 Systems-based Practice: Students must demonstrate an awareness of and responsiveness to the larger context and system of health care and the ability to effectively call on system resources to provide care that is of optimal value.

  • Work effectively in various health care delivery systems.
  • Deliver patient care according to the regulations and resources of health care systems.
  • Advocate for quality patient care and assist patients in dealing with system complexities.
  • Promote cost-effective health care and optimal resources allocation.
  • Formulate appropriate management strategies for patients with clinical conditions that require short and long-term rehabilitation.
  • Identify and assess factors that place patient’s safety at risk and select appropriate interventions to minimize them
  • Collaborate with colleagues, health care providers and other professionals to assess and coordinate patient care.

Professionalism: Students must demonstrate a commitment to carrying out professional responsibilities, adherence to ethical principles and sensitivity to a diverse patient population.

  • Recognize ethical and legal dilemmas in medicine and demonstrate commitment to ethical principles.
  • Demonstrate sensitivity to the diversity of patient population, including, but not limited to differences in culture, social status, gender, sexual orientation and health beliefs.
  • Demonstrate understanding of and respect for the roles of other health care professionals.
  • Demonstrate honesty, integrity and respectful behavior in all interactions with patients and families, peers, preceptors, members of the healthcare team and others.
  • Demonstrate compassionate treatment of patients, respect and sensitivity for their privacy and dignity.
  • Recognize the threats posed by conflicts of interest and advocate for patients’ interest over one’s own
  • Demonstrate respect for patient’s autonomy in decision making.

The primary goal of the MD Program is to provide quality medical education. A strong foundation in the basic sciences is stressed so that students can obtain the most from their training in the clinical sciences.  It is mandatory that the students be fluent in both English and Spanish, (writing, reading, speaking and understanding) for Main Campus candidates. 

Bachelor Degree (BS or BA)

Ordinarily, four years of undergraduate education are necessary to prepare for entrance into medical school; however, special programs (e.g., combined baccalaureate-M.D. programs) may allow this to be reduced. General education that includes the social sciences, history, arts and languages is increasingly important for the development of physician competencies outside of the scientific knowledge domain. Ponce Health Sciences University strongly suggests that applicants apply with a BA / BS completed at a college level institution accredited by the Council of Education of PR or by a US accrediting organization. Candidates that have completed the degree (BA / BS) will be given preference.

Within the studies of the degree all applicants are requested to have completed the following courses:

Course TitleCredits
Organic Chemistry8
Behavioral and Social Sciences*6

*Revised: December 20, 2016

*Any of the following: Psychology, Sociology, Anthropology, Political Sciences and/or Economics.

The English and *Spanish requisites are direct language classes (grammar or literature). For the English courses, classes from other departments described as “intensive writing” may be considered as substitute.

*The Spanish course is required for the Ponce campus.

In addition to the above requirements, we strongly recommend course work in Biochemistry, Cell Biology, Genetics, Microbiology, Liberal Arts and/or Humanities.

  • Fully bilingual in English and Spanish (read, write, speak and understand for Main Campus candidates)
  • Minimum GPA of 2.7 (on a four-point scale) is required for applying; our average is 3.5.
  • Minimum SGPA of 2.7 (on a four-point scale) is required for applying; our average is 3.3.
  • Minimum MCAT score of 494 will be required to be eligible.
  • Required immunizations prior to admission:
  • Tdap booster
  • MMR (2 doses)
  • Hepatitis B (3 doses)
  • Varicella (2 doses)
  • Polio (if under 21 years old)

These requirements may vary according to Centers of Disease Control CDC and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and Centers of Disease Control (CDC) recommendations.

Selection Criteria

When evaluating the applicants, the Medical Admissions’ Committee selects the best of all candidates applying. We look for accepting students with integrity and maturity that show concern for others, leadership and a positive attitude for working with people. Preference will be given to local residents, but US citizens from the mainland are also invited to apply.

The Medical Admission’s Committee evaluates applications considering several factors which include:

  • Academic Performance
  • MCAT scores
  • Applicant’s essay
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Life experiences
  • Experience in the health field (research, community work)
  • Interviews
  • Letters of Recommendation

Accepted applicants that are still completing the degree, must successfully complete all courses in progress at the academic level they had been performing at the time of application.

To receive the MD degree, every student must fulfill the following requirements:

  • Have attended eight regular semesters (or equivalent of medical instruction),have attended the practical instruction in all departments and have satisfactorily completed all course work and examinations as required by the faculty.
  • Taking and passing the USMLE Step 1 examination as a requirement for promotion to the second semester of the first clinical year (usually the third year). (Academic Senate Certification 2012-2)
  • Taking and approving the USMLE Step 2CK examination as a requirement for graduation (Academic Senate Certification 97-98-1 March 16, 1998)
  • Taking and passing a Clinical Practice Examination (CPX) to be given at the end of their third academic year as a requirement for graduation.
  • Taking the USMLE Step 2CS examination as a requirement for graduation.
  • Have shown a behavior considered acceptable to academic instructors and supervisors.
  • Have received the recommendation of the school of medicine faculty as presented to the Promotions Committee. The Committee reviews both cognitive and attitudinal aspects of performance.  The decisions on each student are then submitted to the Dean for the corresponding administrative process.
  • Have settled all financial and library obligations with Ponce Health Sciences University.


USMLE Requirements

United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Policy

This policy states the requirements and timeline established for Ponce Health Sciences University medical students for the USMLE examinations. The Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) policy for the MD Program establishes the maximum time frame to complete the entire academic program that is currently six years.


Comprehensive Basic Sciences Examination


  • All medical students must take the Comprehensive Basic Science Examination (CBSE) developed by the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME), as a USMLE Step 1 performance indicator.
  • The Office of Medical Education coordinates the administration of the test that is offered several times during the second semester of the last pre-clinical year.
  • The test score along with the students’ academic performance during the first years of medical studies will be used to assess the readiness of the student to take and pass the USMLE Step 1.
  • The required scores to be authorized to take the USMLE Step 1 are revised annually and are based on PHSU-SOM student’s outcomes in the past academic years.
  • Students who pass all preclinical courses and have not interrupted the regular medical curriculum program of studies will be allowed to enroll in the clerkships the first semester of the first clinical year, for which taking or passing USMLE Step 1 will not be required.
  1. USMLE Step 1It is the student responsibility to apply to take the USMLE Step 1 through the Licensing Examination Services at the USMLE website and select the eligibility period.
  • For students authorized to take the USMLE Step 1, it is strongly recommended to take it before the beginning of the course: Introduction to Clinical Practice, offered at the end of July.
  • Students will not be excused from scheduled academic activities to study or take the examination after the beginning of courses and clerkships. USMLE Step 1 is offered Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.
  • To register in the clerkships for the second semester of the first clinical year (January to May), the students are required to have a passing score in the USMLE Step 1 examination.
  • The registration for the second semester is in December. The official registration dates are published by the Registrar Office.
  • Those students who don’t take or fail the USMLE Step 1 or the score is not available by the commencement of the second semester of the first clinical year cannot register in the clinical clerkships for the second semester. Students must contact the Registrar Office for the options for review courses.
  • For those students who have interrupted the regular medical curriculum program of studies, it will be required to have a passing score in the USMLE Step 1 examination to enroll in the clerkships for the first semester of the first clinical year (August to December).
  • The registration for the fall semester is in July and the official registration dates are published by the Registrar Office.
  • Students have a maximum of three opportunities to pass the USMLE Step 1.
  • Students are not allowed to be more than one year out of the regular medical curriculum program of studies unless for an approved medical LOA.
  • Students who fail the USMLE Step 1 for the third time and/or have been one year or more out of the regular medical curriculum program of studies will be referred to Students Promotion Committee for consideration of dismissal from the Medicine Program.
  1.  USMLE – Step 2The USMLE Step 2 has two components: Clinical Knowledge (CK) and Clinical Skills (CS).
  • All medical students must take and pass the USMLE Step 2-CK component as a requirement for graduation.
  • It is strongly recommended that the students take the USMLE Step 2-CK no later than August 30, of the year they will start applying to residency programs, in a way the score is available when the Electronic Residency Application System (ERAS) opens and the interviews for residency programs begin.
  • The last opportunity to take and pass the USMLE 2-CK examination to complete this graduation requirement with the May graduating class will be the last week of April of the corresponding graduation year.
  • All MD students must take the USMLE Step 2-CS component as a requirement for graduation.
  • It is strongly recommended the students take USMLE Step 2-CS no later than November 30, of the fourth/last academic year.
  • All MD graduating students must take USMLE Step 2-CS to graduate; however, a passing grade will not be required.

    Clinical Practice Examination

    All medical students are required to take and pass a Clinical Practice Examination (CPX) to be given at the end of their Third Academic Year.

  • Written feedback concerning individual performance will be provided to each student.
  • Students not meeting the acceptable level of performance will receive guided learning to overcome areas of low performance during one or more of the fourth year required clinical rotations. A modified version of the exam will be given after completion of the guided learning experience.
  • Satisfactory completion of this additional guided learning fulfills the requirement to pass this examination.

Medicine program defines grades of courses based on the following system:

Grading System

F69 and belowFail
AWAdministrative Withdrawal 
RRepeatedModifier to another grade


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Course Descriptions

Department of Basic Sciences


Anatomical Sciences


ANA 601 Human Gross Anatomy, Embryology and Imaging

The Human Gross Anatomy, Embryology & Imaging course consists of a detailed study of the normal structure, development and organization of the human body. This course undertakes a regional approach rather than a systemic approach to Human Gross Anatomy, Embryology & Imaging is distributed into three block contents. Gross structures are studied in the laboratory by specimen prosection and demonstration. The radiology component of Gross Anatomy serves as the introduction to radiology and prepares the student for further development. Lectures stress the contribution of developmental events to gross anatomical organization and the correlation of this organization with clinically relevant conditions.


ANA 605 Histology and Cell Biology

Study of the many different aspects of the internal structure of cells, tissues and organs in the human body, presenting a comprehensive survey of many of their complex interrelationships. Lectures, clinical correlations, and laboratories sessions.


PHY 602 Neuroscience

The Neuroscience course is offered to first-year students in graduate-level health professions programs. The general objective of the course is to give students a knowledge-base of the human central nervous system that they will use when learning how to diagnose and treat neurological disorders. The course provides students the essential principles of neurological function, from the cellular and molecular mechanisms of neural communication to the organization and function of sensory and motor systems, and higher cognitive function. Wet-laboratories, clinical correlations, and the neurological exam reinforce the knowledge of brain structure and strengthen skills to understand the human nervous system.




BCH 612/614 Medical Biochemistry I & II

The Medical Biochemistry courses are presented to medical and graduate students in their first year.
The courses are divided in the following units: Structural and functional relationships of proteins, Energy generation and storage from carbohydrate metabolism, Energy Generation and storage from lipid metabolism, Nitrogen metabolism, Gene expression and control, and Medical Genetics.  In these courses, medical aspects are emphasized to build up the necessary background for future application in other basic sciences and clinical courses. The courses are delivered in the form of recorded lectures with accompanying in class-sessions using the flipped classroom model, together with small group discussions of clinical cases. One of the main intentions of the small group discussions is for the medical students to apply the biochemical concepts learned in lectures to understand the molecular basis of a given disease. PhD students, on the other hand, will be required to attend and participate of the discussions of research papers in relevant areas of modern Biochemistry.




MIC 642 General Microbiology

During the first year, medical students learn about the most common pathogens involved in infectious diseases and their characteristics. It includes basic concepts of Immunology, Virology, Mycology, Bacteriology and Parasitology.


MIC 643/644 Infectious Diseases I & II

In the second year, students learn the clinical manifestations, laboratory diagnosis and therapeutic alternatives for treating infectious diseases. It is our purpose to teach the basic knowledge of infectious diseases which is a very important part of the education of medical students and future physicians.




PAT 761/762 Pathology I & II

The Pathology Courses are taught at the second year level consisting of lectures, laboratory periods, and large group discussions. The first part introduces the student to the study of disease. Particular emphasis is given to basic and general pathologic reactions to noxious stimuli. The second part is known as Systemic Pathology. In this portion the subjects taught are coordinated with didactic presentations of the basic sciences, clinical departments and Pathophysiology. Clinical Laboratory Diagnosis is integrated with Systemic Pathology. This affords the opportunity for a close correlation in the teaching of disease entities. The didactic lectures are completed with gross and microscopic organ review, clinical laboratory exercises, and large group discussions.




PHA 781/782 Pharmacology I & II

These are two courses, one-semester-long each, of interactive classroom sessions and small group discussions designed to provide students with a basic understanding of drug actions in order to assure appropriate clinical utilization of pharmacological agents. To facilitate study, drugs are organized into classifications according to their primary clinical usage. The study of each class of drugs includes the pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, clinical uses and toxicities. Each lecture topic is provided with learning objectives that have been developed with reference to the nationally generated learning objectives. Small group discussion sessions and a patient-oriented problem-solving presentation are utilized to enhance problem solving and independent learning skills. Each exercise includes specific learning objectives.




PHY 692/694 Physiology I & II

These are two courses, one-semester-long each, presented to medical students in their first year.  The course consists of recorded lectures, In-Class sessions using audience response systems, Self-Directed Learning, Small Group Discussions, Labs, plus examinations (including NBME subject exam in Physiology). The content is designed for medical students, but is also a required course for the students in the Master Program in Medical Sciences and the graduate students in the Biomedical Sciences.  Areas to be covered will include:  For Physiology I:  cell and muscle, cardiovascular, respiratory, and for Physiology II: renal, acid-base balance, gastrointestinal, endocrinology, and reproduction. Clinical examples that illustrate the physiological principles are given.


Department of Emergency Medicine


MED 973 Emergency Medicine – Fourth Year

The goal of this rotation is to learn the principles of addressing the undifferentiated emergency patient, acquiring the skills to recognize truly ill patients requiring further inpatient management from those who can be treated and discharged. The course will familiarize the student with Emergency and Admission Room procedures consisting of: history, physical examination, diagnostic measures, treatment when needed (emergency or otherwise) and disposition of case (home, hospitalization, outpatient clinics, office care).   Pre-Requisite: 3rd year Clinical Clerkship, Duration: 4 weeks


Department of Family and Community Medicine


FCM 719/720 Community Medicine I & II

The courses are offered during the first year of the medical curriculum. The didactic component includes basic topics in community medicine and concepts of gerontology and geriatrics. Students are introduced to medical history taking and communication skills in preparation for the Primary Care Office Visits. The students interview a standardized patient and receive feedback from a faculty member. The students are exposed to primary care physicians in their practice sites in the community. All medical students are assigned to a primary care physician’s office with a family practitioner, internist or pediatrician (Primary Care Office Visits or PCOV) once each semester. In addition, they perform a life history of a healthy elder in the community.


FCM 721 Family and Community Medicine I

This course is offered the first semester of the second year. It includes a series of didactic activities in Geriatrics, Health Promotion & Prevention, Professionalism and Communication Skills. In addition to the regular didactic activities and small group discussions, the students perform a needs assessment of a community and design of a community project. All medical students are assigned to a primary care physician’s office with a family practitioner, internist or pediatrician (Primary Care Office Visits or PCOV) once.


FCM 722 Family and Community Medicine II

This course exposes the students to the disciplines of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and how they may be used as the foundation to be applied in the field of Preventive Medicine and in the understanding of scientific medical literature. Participation in scientific paper discussions is required.


FCM 822 Third Year Family Medicine Clerkship

The Family and Community Medicine Clerkship is designed to introduce students to the role and identity of the family physician and demonstrate the family practice approach to the comprehensive care of common health problems in the ambulatory setting.  Duration: Four weeks’ block rotation throughout the year.


FCM 974 Primary Care Selective in Family Practice

The Primary Care Selective in Family Practice is a four-week required rotation in the fourth year where the student chooses the working site from a varied selection of primary care physicians in the community.


The purpose of this course is to provide students an opportunity to enhance their clinical skills in primary care and to practice the delivery of health care in the office and/or hospital. This clinical rotation allows additional opportunity for the student to work in the ambulatory and/or inpatient service under the direct supervision of a Primary Care Physician.


Faculty for the Primary Care Selective is drawn from the fields of General Internal Medicine, General Pediatrics and Family Practice. Students can select from diverse clinical practice sites in urban, suburban and rural settings. At each site, students will see patients under the supervision of one or more clinical preceptors. Each student, however, will be assigned a principal preceptor who is responsible for overseeing the student’s learning experience and coordinating the evaluation.


The student is expected to participate with a preceptor in all daily practice related activities in the ambulatory, hospital, or other community settings.


Clinical activities during the rotation may also involve assessing patients in a variety of other health care settings including private homes, schools, nursing homes, shelters, emergency rooms.   Duration: Four weeks’ block rotation throughout the year


Department of Internal Medicine


ICP 080 Introduction to Clinical Practice (Second Year – Summer Course)

This is a required learning experience for medical students before they start the clinical rotations. The purpose is to give the medical students the basis of clinical practice, including record management, universal precautions, legal aspects of the practice of medicine and progress note writing among others. The students will learn the principles of evidence-based medicine and practice literature searching, critical appraisal of the medical literature and its clinical applications. An intensive course of electrocardiograph is offered, at the end of which the student is to have basic electrocardiograph knowledge that will help him in his clinical experiences and his future growth in this field. Learning activities are didactic presentations and workshops, hands on experiences and independent study.


MED 833 Third Year Internal Medicine Clerkship

Each student will be assigned to a Health Care Teaching Unit which consists of an Attending Physician, a Medical Resident, Intern and 2-3 students to provide Health Care to a number of inpatients (7-10 patients/Health Care Teaching Unit). They will be directly supervised by the Resident and Attending Physician. The student’s work up will be corrected, and final copy signed by the medical resident and attending physician before it is made part of the Hospital Record. Progress notes written by the student must be counter signed by residents before being official. Students are expected to have a minimum of two new patients per week.  Duration: 8 weeks’ rotation at two different sites.


MED 934 Fourth Year Internal Medicine Clerkship

Students will be assigned to one of the Health Care Teaching Units of the affiliated hospitals where he/she will perform as an intern under the direct supervision of a medical resident and attending physician.  Duration: 4 weeks


MED 974 Primary Care Selective in Internal Medicine

Students are assigned to general internist clinical practices where they experience continuity of care of internal medicine patients. The student is exposed to health care systems (managed care), office management concepts and practice guidelines with emphasis on clinical application of disease prevention.  Emphasis is placed on evidence-based medicine and its application to clinical practice.  Duration: 4 Weeks


RAD 901 Clinical Radiology

This is a four weeks’ course in which senior medical students are exposed to clinical radiology via an apprentice model, based in the office and hospital practice of radiology faculty. Students gain an understanding of the mechanism and radiographic manifestation of common pulmonary, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, genitourinary, musculoskeletal and neurologic problems.  Course Duration: 4 weeks


Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology


OBG 852 Obstetrics and Gynecology Clerkship-3rd Year

The Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology is one of the clinical departments of the Ponce Health Sciences University. It is composed of a core group of clinicians who are members of the academic staff of the medical school, in private practice and/or in the teaching staff at the Ob-Gyn residency program at the New San Lucas Hospital. Residents and Interns also participate in the teaching of students.

The principal goal of the department is to provide the students with the core knowledge and skills in Obstetrics and Gynecology that are essential to every primary care physician. Students interested in pursuing a career in Obstetrics and Gynecology is encouraged to enroll in senior electives that will facilitate their decision to apply for a residency in our specialty.  Duration: Eight Week Rotation


OBG 974 Primary Care Selective in OB-GYN

The fourth year selective in OB-GYN has been designed to provide the students with additional exposure to the clinical knowledge and skills in Obstetrics and Gynecology. Students are exposed to additional clinical material and are expected to work extensively with the department’s staff in each location.


Department of Pediatrics


PED 872 Third Year Pediatric Clerkship

The purpose of this clerkship is to provide a solid core of pediatric knowledge and skills, an appreciation of the spectrum of growth and development and a logical approach to the care of children in both illness and health, which can be applied in whatever field of medicine you enter.

The care of individual patients requires the application of all these skills. The student is expected to recognize and manage common pediatric acute and chronic health problems.


Also, skills in record documentation and writing prescriptions must be developed.  A student must have well developed interpersonal skills that facilitate communication and must also demonstrate attitudes, behaviors and beliefs that serve to promote the patient’s best interest.  Duration: Four Weeks


PED 974 Primary Care Selective in Pediatrics

This elective allows the student to participate in the care of pediatric patients in a setting where primary care pediatrics is practiced. Students will assume the care of pediatric patients in the ambulatory and inpatient settings of primary and secondary community hospitals, under the supervision of an academic physician.


Health promotion and disease prevention strategies are emphasized. Experiences in the care of acute and chronic pediatrics problems are provided with opportunities for continuity of care between inpatient and outpatient hospital settings. The elective also provides opportunities to perform pediatric procedures such as venipunctures, suprapubic taps and lumbar punctures.  Duration: Four Weeks


Department of Psychiatry


PSY 610 Human Behavior

This course is designed to teach medical students the basic principles of behavioral and social science as these relate to the physician’s professional role. It provides the medical students with the opportunity to perceive man in a holistic way, with emphasis in the different areas of behavior.


PSY 713/714 Basic Psychiatry I & II

The student will build on the knowledge acquired in the first year course of Behavioral Sciences and amplify his/her knowledge integrating psychopathology, classification of psychiatric disorders, diagnosis, therapeutic options. The major psychiatric syndromes including neurodevelopmental, disruptive, psychotic, mood, and personality are discussed through a series of lectures and group activities. Diagnostic criteria, epidemiology, signs and symptoms, as well as treatment and prognosis are reviewed along with biological and psychosocial knowledge of each psychiatric syndrome.


PSY 813 Clerkship Psychiatry

The student will integrate previously learned material and skills in a clinical setting and participate actively in the evaluation and treatment of patients during their 4 week rotations at the medical school’s outpatient clinics.  Pre-requisites: Behavioral Science (610) and Basic Psychiatry (713).  Duration: 4 Week


Department of Surgery


SUR 816 Clinical Clerkship in Surgery

The clinical clerkship in surgery offers educational experiences combined with clinical encounters with hospitalized and ambulatory patients. Each student is assigned to a member of the teaching staff. The setting in a tertiary and/or secondary hospital will provide the student with in-patient and out-patient clinical encounters necessary to develop data gathering, technical, case presentation and clinical problem solving skills.  Each student will complete history and physical examination, an assessment plan and a treatment plan in at least two (2) new patients per week.


Interpersonal skills, professional attitudes and educational attitudes will be developed and evaluated through direct observation of the student by the proctor in the hospital and ambulatory settings and in the classroom.


This clerkship is offered at Damas Hospital and Saint Luke’s Hospital in Ponce, which are tertiary type hospitals with accredited resident programs.  In addition, students may occasionally rotate through other affiliated secondary hospitals such as Dr. Pila Hospital, San Cristobal Hospital and Oncologic Hospital in Ponce and Southern Medical Center in Yauco.


Interdisciplinary Courses


MED 630/631 Clinical Correlation (Problem Based Learning)

These are two courses, one-semester each, using Problem Based Learning (PBL) as the instructional method.  The facilitator gives a problem (a clinical case) to a small group of students who engage in discussion over two sessions. As the students discover the limits of their knowledge, they identify learning issues that they cannot answer from their fund of knowledge.  Between meetings, the learners research their learning issues and share results with their peers and supervisors at the next meeting receiving feedback on their information-seeking skills. The students increase their knowledge and understanding of clinical problems, but develop also desirable attributes such as communication skills, teamwork, problem solving, independent responsibility for learning, sharing information, and respect for others. The facilitator provides supportive guidance for the students.


MED 734/735 Fundamental Pathophysiology for Clinical Medicine I & II

The aim of these courses is to bridge the gap between the pre-clinical and clinical courses; between normal and abnormal physiology and derangement that constitute pathologic states. These courses are offered during the second year.  The course is integrated with Pathology, Microbiology, Pharmacology and Introduction to Clinical Skills.


IHD 919 Interprofessional Perspectives in Health Disparities

This course is designed to provide a general overview of gaps in health outcomes associated with health disparities. A special emphasis will be given to the social determinants of health such as race/ethnicity, social class, socioeconomic status, sex, sexuality, nationality and migration status. The course will focus on the impact of health disparities’ impact at multiple system’s levels (e.g. Individual, patient-clinician, healthcare system, etc.).


MED 732 Introduction to Clinical Skills I/MED733   Introduction to Clinical Skills II

Introduction to Clinical Skills (ICS) is an interdisciplinary course composed of two closely related and interdependent courses ICS I and ICS II.  ICS is designed to introduce the student to the art of medicine and to facilitate the development of those basic clinical skills that are needed by all physicians to be effective in medical practice. In these courses, all sciences essential to the practice of medicine are integrated with practical experiences, including real and simulated patient encounters.  ICS I Course (first semester) is specifically designed to teach medical history taking, patient doctor communication and interpersonal skills, physical examination skills and clinical reasoning.  ICS II Course (second semester) provides real and standardized patient care activities in which the student uses the skills acquired in ICS I in different clinical scenarios.


MED 635/734 Medical Ethics I & II

These courses are scheduled as a block of 18 contact hours during the last week of the first academic year and another block of 7 hours at the beginning of the second academic year, for a total 25 contact hours. The goal is to provide didactic experiences for medical students in specific areas within the field of medical ethics. The need for these experiences stems from the recognition that ethical dilemmas are inherent in medical care. The students will develop an understanding of the principles of medical ethics and a system of ethical reasoning that will result in consistent decisions. The didactic activities will include presentations of clinical cases which have been selected to represent ethical dilemmas similar to those that are likely encountered in real life. Activities include a combination of lectures, assigned readings and small group case discussions covering different subjects within the four main areas of medical ethics, namely: ethical issues of scientific research, ethical issues of the doctor-patient relationship, beginning-of-life and end-of-life ethical issues.


PDV 918/919 Professional Development

These courses are designed to enhance the educational experiences of medical students during the first clinical year.  It reinforces professionalism, cultural competence and civic development. It helps the student to develop the skills necessary to compete successfully for positions in medical residency programs, participate in research projects, and be exposed to the health system requirements for the eventual development of a successful medical practice.


SKD 090 Skills Development

Ponce Health Sciences University (PHSU) requires that all medicine students take and pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination Step 1 (USMLE Step 1) to be promoted to the second semester of the first clinical year. In order to help the students to meet this requirement, PHSU has established the Skills Development Course (SKD). The SKD provides the students a four-week protected time period, at the end of the second semester of the second year of medical studies, for independent study in preparation to take and pass the USMLE Step 1.


SKD 091 Basic Science Review Course:

Basic Sciences Review Course I (SKD 091) is designed to help medical students who did not take or pass the USMLE Step 1.  As in Skills Development course (SKD 090), the main objective is to provide students a protected time to participate in an independent and a comprehensive review of the basic science subjects. The course provides a semester for independent study in preparation to re-take and pass the USMLE Step 1.  A study plan must be submitted and student progress in the completion of the plan is monitored.

A Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) policy has been established to ensure that medical students complete the academic program within the acceptable time frame and the minimally accepted quality of performance.  This policy also ensures that the Student Financial Aid requirements set forth by federal regulations have been met.  The SAP applies to all medical students enrolled in Ponce Health Sciences University School of Medicine. Student’s academic progress is evaluated twice each academic year.

General Requirements

  • Time Frame for completion of the Academic Program

A medical student will be allowed a maximum time frame of two semesters of enrollment beyond the standard required for the completion of the program.  Summer enrollment is considered part of the academic year for the purpose of this measure.

For transfer students, the total years for completion of a degree include those years accredited on admission to MD Program.

Doctor of Medicine – Four Year Program4 years6 years

Completion of Program Requirements

  • Course Requirement

Students must complete all courses within the established time frame.

  • Performance Requirement

A student must pass each course. Any student failing to meet this standard of performance will be referred to the Students Promotion Committee to determine the action to be taken.

  • Medical Licensure Exam Requirement

A passing score for USMLE Step 1 is required to enroll for the second semester of the first clinical year. A passing score for USMLE Step 2 CK and taking the USMLE Step 2 CS are required for graduation.

  • Professional Behavior Requirement

The students must conduct themselves in accordance with the norms for professional conduct set forth by the Ponce Health Sciences University and the corresponding accreditation agencies.

  • Clinical Practice Examination (CPX)

All medical students are required to take and pass a Clinical Practice Examination (CPX) at the end of their first clinical academic year.

Grade Requirements

The Ponce Health Sciences University Medical Program does not measure academic progress by cumulative grade point average.  In order to graduate, the student should pass all required and electives courses.  Satisfactory Academic Progress will be reviewed each semester.

An “I” (Incomplete) grade will only be allowed under very special circumstances as determined by the professor. The student must complete the “I” (Incomplete) by the following semester or an – “F” will be recorded for that course. The “I” (Incomplete) grades are part of the academic record as are the final grades.


Academic Probation

Any student failing to meet Ponce Health Sciences University medical program performance requirement will be referred to the School of Medicine Students Promotion Committee and placed on academic and financial aid probation. The following guidelines will be applied:

  • If the student fails one course, he/she should remediate the deficiency during the summer time.
  • If the student fails two or more courses or fails a course a second time, he/she may be considered for either repetition of courses or dismissal.
  • If the Students Promotion Committee determines that the student must repeat one or more courses during the summer or the next academic year, the student is considered in academic probation.
  • If the Students Promotion Committee determines to dismiss the student from the medical program, the student must be informed about his/her right to appeal.
  • If the dismissal decision is reversed by the due process, the student will be considered in academic probation.


Appeal Process for Academic

Students who are notified by the Associate Dean of Medical Education a decision of the Students Promotion Committee that he/she must repeat failed courses during the next academic year or to be dismissed from the medical program, have the right to appeal the decision within five working days after receiving the notification.

The appeal or due process presented below must be followed.

The student will appeal in writing to the School of Medicine Students Promotion Committee (SPC) and include all relevant documentation to support the request.  The Committee will evaluate the reasons and evidence submitted to determine if they change their initial decision.  The SPC has 48 hours to submit its decision to the Associate Dean for Medical Education, who will notify the decision to the student.

If the SPC sustains the adverse decision, the student has the right to appeal to the Dean of Medicine. The appeal must be submitted in writing within five working days after receiving the notification.  The Dean of Medicine will evaluate the appeal and the student’s academic record. The Dean can appoint a three-member Ad-Hoc Committee to re-evaluate all evidence. Rejection of the appeal by the Dean is final.

If an Ad-Hoc Committee is appointed, they will have forty-eight (48) hours to submit a recommendation to the Dean of Medicine. The Dean of Medicine will consider the Ad-Hoc Committee recommendation and make the final decision within forty-eight (48) hours. Any decision will be reported to the student in writing. The decision made by the Dean of Medicine is final.

The same process described above will be followed in the case that the adverse decision made by the Committee is for non-academic reasons, such as unacceptable professional behavior. The Department Chairperson, the Associate Dean for Medical Education or the VP for Student Affairs will refer the case to the SPC. If the recommendation of the SPC is to dismiss the student, the appeal process described above may be activated.

In the event that an adverse decision is made due to non-academic reasons and the Dean of Medicine sustains the decision after the appeal process, the student may appeal to the Vice-President for Academic Affairs and then to the President.

Effective Date: July 1st, 2018.

Financial Aid Eligibility

Financial Aid eligibility is contingent upon satisfactory academic progress. Please refer to the institutional policy on Satisfactory Academic Progress published by the Office of Financial Aid


The Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs shall have primary responsibility for overseeing this policy and will provide all medical students a copy of this document upon admission to Ponce Health Sciences University School of Medicine.

The President, Vice President of Academic Affairs and the Vice President for Student Affairs, as well as the Dean of Medicine, Associate Dean for Medical Education, Registrar and Financial Aid Director will receive all pertinent data to ensure proper enforcement of the policy here set forth.

Rev. May 5, 2016 by the Executive and Policy Committee of the School of Medicine

For more details of PHSU tuition and fees please refer to: Cost of Attendance


Ponce Health Sciences University reserve the right to increase the tuition or other fees as deemed necessary.

Ponce Health Sciences University is pleased that you have selected our institution to continue with your academic and professional goals. The Office of Student Financial Aid provides you with the information and tools to assist you in reaching educational goals. Please take your time to navigate through the various links we have provided and feel free to contact the Financial Aid Office if you need more information:

Financial Aid Application Process Links
Important Links (External):

Important Links for PHSU application forms and manual

PHSU Financial Aid Application – click to download the form
– Request for Aid and Loans
– Student Authorization

Click here to download your
– Student Financial Aid Manual

Federal Financial Aid Programs

  • Direct Unsubsidized Loan: students who meet the requirements established by the US Department of Education may receive a Direct Loan, according to the academic program: graduate and professional students are eligible to receive up to $20,500 per academic year. As an institution that previously participated in the HEAL Programs our MD, Doctorate and PhD in Clinical Psychology, as well as certain Master Degree Programs might be eligible for additional amount of loan. The amount is established annually by Federal Regulations. The Financial Aid Office provides orientation about the application process for student loans, the student’s qualifying requirements and the specifics regarding interest rate, orientation fess, repayment process, etc. The student must submit an agreement form known as a Master Promissory Note, and complete electronic entrance counseling, both on-line:
  • Direct Loan-Plus Graduate Loan: This is a federal fixed-interest loan for graduate and professional students, beyond the DL Unsubsidized award, to cover any additional cost of attendance. The interest rate and origination fee, which is annually fixed by the Federal Government, begins to accrue from the date of the first disbursement. The loan qualifying process requires a credit check verification, on-line entrance counseling and an on-line submission of a Master Promissory Note:
  • Private Loans (Alternative Loans). These are credit-based loans that may be used to supplement other types of financial aid programs. The loan amounts vary according to amount requested and approved for the student. The interest rate is variable, accrued while in school and usually based on the current “Prime Rate” plus a lender’s predetermined interest rate. Repayment may be up to 20 years. These Private Alternative Loans provide funds to complete the remaining need after the student is awarded other financial aid. Due to the high interest rate that these loans represent, the student should consider these loans as a last resource to their financial need. PHSU does not recommend any specific lender, the evaluation and selection is a student’s individualized decision.
  • Historical Private Lender List
    PHSU does not deny or otherwise impede the student’s choice of an alternative lender or cause unnecessary delay in loan certification of these loans. The following is a list of the three private loans that have been most commonly selected by our students during last two previous academic years, however, we reiterate that the student may select any other lender they esteem will meet their financial need.

Other Financial Aid Options:
Military Scholarship Programs: Students interested in a military career may consider apply for one of the scholarships programs for healthcare professions offered by the US Army, the US Air Force, Navy or the National Guard. The students must contact the desired program:

National Health Services Corps Scholarship Program: available for students in the primary health care specialties and committed to serving part or their entire career in federally designated health professional shortage area. Learn more about this program at:

Financial Aid Application Process

Direct Loan Application Process
Students interested in applying for a Direct Loan must comply with the federal requirements and following requirements:

      1. Have financial need.
      2. Be an US Citizen or an Eligible Non-Citizen.
      3. Have a valid social security number.
      4. Enroll in an eligible program as a regular student working toward a degree.
      5. Meet satisfactory academic progress standards.
      6. Register (or have registered) with the Selective Service if you are a male between the ages of 18 and 25.
      7. Certify that are not in default on a federal student loan and that do not owe money on a Federal student grant.
      8. Student cannot exceed the aggregate loan limit established by the Department of Education.
      9. Comply with the Entrance Interview/Counseling.
      10. Provide all the documents and information required by the Financial Aid.

Students must fill the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the corresponding academic year, in order to be evaluated to determine eligibility for federal and state funds. It must be submitted on line at no later than last working day of April. The PHSU school code is G24824. Students need a pin number, which can be obtained at

Once the student submits the FAFSA, the Department of Education will send an Institutional Student Information Record (ISIR) to the school, which will be used for evaluation and analysis.

Students with a FAFSA application selected for verification by the Department of Education will be required to submit the following documents:

  • Complete a Verification Worksheet (provided by the Financial Aid Office)
  • Copy of the Tax Return (IRS or PR tax return form) or
  • W-2 form(s) (if apply)
  • Evidence of wages, salaries, tips, etc., reported on the FAFSA
  • Others

If the student (student’s parent or spouse) is not required to file income tax return, he/she will be required to complete and sign a Certification of Income, provided by the Financial Aid Office, among other documentation. Note: No loan will be process until the verification process is completed.

As part of the evaluation, the Financial Aid Office will take in consideration the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC is the amount that the student should contribute towards his/her cost of education, and it is determined by the Federal Government. The need analysis consists of the following basic calculation: Cost of Attendance minus EFC equals Financial Need. As part of the analysis, it will be considered any other expected financial aid (external funds such as Vocational Rehabilitation, Veteran Administration, military scholarships, and any other grant or scholarship). Note: A student cannot receive financial assistance in excess of the determined Financial Need.

Awarding and Notification
The next step is the awarding of financial aid amounts by PHSU and preparing the award notification for the student. Once the awarding process is completed, a Notification of Award is sent to each student.

Return Policy and Requirement for Withdrawal and Return of Federal Financial Aid (see PHSU catalog refund policy section)

Suspension of Eligibility for Drug-Related Offenses
If convicted of any offense involving the possession of a controlled substance, a student’s eligibility for Title IV Financial Student Aid Program will be denied for:

  • One year after the first conviction
  • Two years after the second conviction
  • Indefinitely after the third conviction

Eligibility may be restored if the student partakes of an approved Federal Government Rehabilitation Program.

Please refer to the Student Financial Aid Manual for specific information regarding all the dynamics of financial aid as it applies to new and continuing students.

Financial Aid Contact Information:

Financial Aid Personnel:
Mrs. Myrian Gaud Maitín, MBA
Financial Aid Manager

Mrs. Nicole Vázquez Colon, MSS
Financial Aid Officer

Ms. Mariannette Cruz Rentas, BS
Administrative Assistant

Office Hours
Monday to Thursday: 8:00-11:30 am – 1:00-4:30 pm
Friday: Administrative Work (By appointment only)

Financial Aid Office Contact Information
Phone Number: (787) 840-2575 ext. 4734, 4736 or 4836
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 7004, Ponce. Puerto Rico 00731
Physical Address: 388 Zona Ind. Reparada 2 Ponce PR 00716-2347

How To Apply

Application Process

Ponce Health Sciences University participates in the centralized application service provided by the American Medical Colleges Application Service (AMCAS), a division of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). The electronic web-based application is available at:

The AMCAS application deadline is DECEMBER 15 of the year prior to the requested admission date. A secondary application is also required for PHSU’s School of Medicine, due by January 15th. (For more information Click Here) . The following documents will be requested after the AMCAS application is received.

  • Three letters of recommendation (two from professors and one written by an individual familiar with the applicant’s skills and abilities) or a composite letter from a premedical committee. Letters must be submitted through AMCAS.
  • Official transcripts from all universities attended.
  • US $90 non-refundable application processing fee.

An AMCAS criminal background check will be conducted once the applicant is accepted. If a positive criminal record appears, the acceptance will be revoked.

Upon acceptance, all students are required to submit the following:

  • Written confirmation of acceptance and a deposit of $100.00 to secure your seat in the entering class.
  • Physical Exam results.
  • Evidence of up to date immunization certificate.
  • Other documents will be notified as pertinent.


Advanced Standing:

The MD Advanced Standing Committee will consider applications for transfer from other medical schools to the second or third year of the MD Program. Applicants must be in good academic standing. Students with academic or disciplinary sanctions will not be considered for transfer. Students seeking transfer from LCME accredited schools may be accepted to the level for which they are applying provided that their curriculum is equivalent to that of PHSU.

The number of acceptances will always depend on the availability of vacant spaces. . Preference will be given to local residents.

Tuition: will be in accordance to the academic year to which the applicant will be enrolled in.

Advanced Standing Admission Requirements

  • Present evidence of a bachelor’s degree from a college level institution accredited by the PR Council of Education or by a US accrediting organization and comply with the following courses:
    General Biology I + II with Labs8
    General Chemistry I + II w Labs8
    Organic Chemistry I + II w Labs8
    Physics I + II with Labs8
    Behavioral and Social Sciences*6
    Biochemistry Course3

* Any of the following: Psychology, Sociology, Political Sciences, Economics, or Anthropology

  • Undergraduate GPA of 2.7 or higher (on a four-point scale)
  • Fully bilingual in English and Spanish (read, write, speak and understand)
  • Have taken the MCAT
  • Be a bona fide student in good standing at his/her Medical School
  • Have completed courses in medical school equivalent to PHSU’s curriculum prior to the year for which admission is requested.
  • USMLE Step 1- approved preferably on the first attempt (to apply for admission to the third year)
  • The student must submit the following:
  • Official transcript from all institutions attended (undergraduate and graduate)
  • Official transcript from the medical school from which the candidate is seeking transfer
  • Letter of good standing from the dean of the medical school
  • Submit two letters of recommendation from professors, academic advisors or clinical supervisors from the medical school which the student is attending, who can comment on his/her academic performance, character and interests.
  • Letter explaining the reason(s) for seeking transfer to PHSU
  • Certificate of No Penal Record (Police Clearance/Background Check)
  • Application fee of US$85, non-refundable

Upon acceptance, all students are required to submit the following:

  • Written confirmation of acceptance and a non-refundable deposit of $100.00 to secure the seat in the entering class.
  • Physical Exam (using a form provided by the Admissions Office)
  • Health Certificate from the Department of Health of PR
  • Evidence of up to date immunization record (must include Varicella, Td Adult, MMR and three doses of Hepatitis B).
  • Policy on Technical Standards
  • Other documents will be notified as pertinent.

Classes and clinical rotations begin every July.


How to Apply

Application for Admission to MD Advanced Standing may also be obtained personally at the Admissions Office.

The deadline for submitting a complete application is MAY 15 of the same year admission is sought.

Authorization for the use of transcript


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Thank you for inquiring into
 Ponce Health Sciences University 
for your education

We are working on providing you with an improved and updated application experience. You will soon receive information about the launch of our new application portal for the 2023-24 academic year

For MD Secondary Application click HERE