Course Descriptions


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 dissection 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 and laboratories sessions.


BCH 612 Medical Biochemistry

The Medical Biochemistry course is presented to medical and graduate students in their first year. It is a two-semester course that includes approximately 78 lectures in addition to small group discussions and review sessions.

The course is divided in essentially six units: Structural and functional relationships of proteins, Generation and storage from carbohydrate metabolism, Generation and storage from lipid metabolism, Nitrogen metabolism, Gene expression and control and Medical Genetics. In this course, medical aspects are emphasized to build up the necessary background for future application in other basic sciences and clinical courses.

The course is delivered in the form of lectures and Small Group Discussions. 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.  Credit: 13 (Value for MD), 9 credits for PhD.

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

Family and Community Medicine

Course (Pre-clinical)

FCM 719-720 Community Medicine

An interdisciplinary community medicine course (effective in 2001-2002) has been incorporated to the first-year medical curriculum. This course involves the three-primary care disciplines: Family Medicine, Internal Medicine and Pediatrics. It has a didactic component in basic topics in community medicine and an experiential component. In the experiential component, the student is exposed to primary care physicians in their practice sites in the community. Each student visits a community preceptor at least three times per semester and conducts one-time visit to a family practitioner, internist or pediatrician throughout the year. Students also participate in community service activities. The course requires the students to develop a community project in conjunction with a service organization in the community. Selected practice sites are localized throughout the southern part of Puerto Rico, from Guayama to Mayaguez.  Required for first year students.

FCM 721 Family and Community Medicine – Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Interpretation of the Medical Literature

In this course the basic precepts of Epidemiology as applied to community diagnosis and interpretation of the medical literature are introduced.  Required for second year students.

FCM 722 Family and Community Medicine – Preventive Medicine

The basic concepts of Biostatistics are presented and are used, together with Epidemiology as the basis for interpreting the Medical Literature and the Practice of Evidence Based Medicine and Prevention.  The Family and Community Medicine course is an integral part of the four-year longitudinal experience in Preventive Medicine. Required for second year students.

Courses (Clinical)

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


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

This is a required learning experience for medical students after two years of Basic Sciences.

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.  Duration: 2 weeks

MED 833 Third Year Internal Medicine Clerkship

To help achieve Medicine Department’s objectives, 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).

The student will be assigned two patients per week for complete work ups. 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 at each hospital 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

This course is a required 4-week rotation that must be completed in the fourth year. Although emphasis is on ambulatory care, students may have the opportunity to follow their assigned patients when inpatient care is required. 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 day per 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


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.  Prerequisites: Admission to MD or PhD programs.

MIC 643 Infectious Diseases

In the second year, they 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.  Pre-requisites: MIC 6420

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 major objective of the senior rotations in our department is to assign the students a level of responsibility similar to a PGY-1 OB-GYN.  We consider these students as acting interns and require them to perform as such.


PAT 761 Pathology

General Pathology is the first part of the Pathology Course.  It provides students an introduction of the study of disease.  Particular emphasis is given to basic general pathologic reactions to noxious stimuli.

The second part of the course includes systemic pathology.  It is coordinated with the didactic presentations of basic sciences, clinical departments and the Pathophysiology Course.  Clinical laboratory diagnosis is integrated with the 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 small and large group discussions. 


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


PHA-781 Pharmacology (5.5)

A two-semester lecture/small group discussion course 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. A prototype from each class of drugs is examined in detail. The study of each class of drugs includes the pharmacokinetic, pharmacodynamics, clinical uses and toxicity. 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 computer-based activities are utilized to enhance problem solving and independent learning skills.  Computerized Assisted Instruction exercises are part of small group discussions. These allow integration between pharmacological concepts and appropriate computer programs that complement the experience. Each exercise includes specific learning objectives.


PHY 692 Physiology

The course consists of approximately 147 lectures hours, laboratory and computer exercises, group discussions, plus examinations (including NBME subject exam in Physiology). The content of the course is designed for medical students, but is also a required course for graduate students in the Biomedical Sciences. Areas to be covered will include: cell and muscle, cardiovascular, respiratory, renal, acid-base balance, gastrointestinal, endocrinology and reproduction. Clinical examples that illustrate the physiological principles are given.

Professional Development

PDV 918/919 Professional Development

This course is 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.

Psychiatry and Human Behavior

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.  Duration: First year, first semester, 32 hours

PSY 713 Psychiatry

The student will build on the knowledge acquired in the first year and amplify his/her knowledge integrating psychopathology, classification of psychiatric disorders (DSM-IV, ICD-10CM), diagnosis, therapeutic options and current psychiatric issues.  Pre-requisites: Behavioral Science 610.  Duration: 56 Hours

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


SUR 816 Clinical Clerkship in Surgery

Pre-requisites:  Satisfactory completion of the second-year curriculum in accordance with the institutional guidelines for students’ promotion including Pathophysiology and Introduction to Clinical Medicine courses. The clerkship will be offered as a full-time course during an eight (8) weeks period.

The clinical clerkship in surgery offers educational experiences combined with clinical encounters with hospitalized and ambulatory patients under supervision.

Each student is assigned to a member of the teaching staff of the Department of Surgery for two four (4) weeks period on a one-on-one basis.

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 skills, technical skills, case presentation skills 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.

Medical Ethics

MED 635 Medical Ethics I

MED 734 Medical Ethics II

The course is 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. 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 relation, beginning-of-life ethical issues and end-of-life ethical issues.

Problem-Based Learning

MED 630 Clinical Correlation (PBL)

Problem Based Learning Program is an active, student-centered learning process in which students, not faculty members, are primarily responsible for the learning.  A PBL group consists of six or seven students and a facilitator who is a faculty member.  The group meets for two hours every week using the problem based learning process to work through specially designed cases.  The goal of the course is to develop self-directed learning skills, integrating lecture material and teaching problem solving skills exposing the students to relevant clinical problems that strengthen their clinical reasoning skills.

Interprofessional Perspectives in Health Disparities

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.).

Credits: 15 hours/1 credit

Introduction to Clinical Skills

MED 732 Introduction to Clinical Skills I/

MED733   Introduction to Clinical Skills II

The ICS courses is a two-semester course, in which students learn and practice skills needed for obtaining a comprehensive Medical History and Physical Examination in adult and pediatric patients.  The students also learn when and how to perform a focused history and physical examination, how to use problem solving skills in the diagnosis of clinical problems and how to present clinical cases in oral and written formats.

For both semesters, the course includes didactic activities in the form of lectures, in order to provide the theoretical framework required for medical history taking and physical examinations of adult and pediatric patients.  Didactic activities are supplemented with assigned readings from Barbara Bates, Guide to Physical Examination and History Taking, 8th Edition.

Fundamental Pathophysiology for Clinical Medicine

MED 734 Fundamental Pathophysiology for Clinical Medicine

The course is offered during the first and second semesters of the second year.  The course is integrated with Pathology, Microbiology and Introduction to Clinical Skills.  In view of this, the schedule is variable.   Clinical Correlations are offered on previously chosen Friday Afternoons.

Skills Development

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 (SKDC). The SKDC 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.


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