Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University

Welcome to JeffMD

A Curriculum for Excellence

Welcome to JeffMD, SKMC’s curriculum that prepares students to thrive in the landscape of modern healthcare.  

Please explore these pages to learn more, and send us your questions and thoughts to   

JeffMD Curriculum Overview

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Chart showing the JeffMD Curriculum Overview



Guiding Principles

  • Patient-centered
  • Early clinical exposure
  • Integrated science, clinical knowledge and skill, and professional development
  • Competency-based advancement
  • Continuing component of scholarly inquiry on topics chosen by students with guidance from their mentors
  • Learning optimized by a range of instructional formats
  • Opportunity for early development of specialty interest

Top Ten Things You Need to Know

  1. JeffMD follows a patient-centered, three-phase structure.  Science instruction and clinical exposure are fully integrated throughout a student’s time at SKMC.
  2. In Phase I, students focus on the foundations of medicine through eight organ system blocks (see the Curriculum Overview) that interweave fundamental and clinical sciences.
  3. In Phase II, students begin their clinical rotations, shifting the balance of learning toward clinical skills and application of knowledge. Students also continue to learn more advanced basic science as it relates to patient care during this phase. The order of rotations differs from student to student.
  4. Phase 3 of the curriculum is 12 weeks longer than the fourth year of a traditional curriculum, which allows students more time to prepare their residency applications and to take electives appropriate to their specialty interest. (Phase 1 is correspondingly 12 weeks shorter than years 1-2 in a traditional curriculum.)
  5. Patient contact, appropriate to first-year students’ level of expertise, begins soon after matriculation and deepens as students build skills and knowledge.
  6. JeffMD builds in ample time to prepare for the USMLE and to pursue elective rotations in an area of specialty interest.
  7. Professional development, focused on how to be a compassionate, communicative, collaborative doctor, interweaves with science and clinical experience throughout the curriculum.
  8. Much of the learning takes place in small groups and individual activities, supplemented by lectures or patient panels when they are the best format. In their small groups, students focus on case studies that become increasingly complex as the curriculum progresses, each building on the prior phase so that earlier learning is both reinforced and enhanced through iteration.
  9. Assessments depend more on problem solving and demonstration of competency than on recall and memorization. Mastery of core competencies builds through a series of threads that continue in all phases of the curriculum.
  10. Scholarly inquiry is a core value of the curriculum, honing critical thinking skills that clinicians need just as much as researchers.  All students will choose an area of concentration from one of our Scholarly Inquiry Tracks.  They will be assigned a mentor  and complete independent projects appropriate for their concentration.  Students may shift between tracks at certain points during their four years.


JeffMD is patient-centered. In every case study and clinical encounter, you will be asked to consider “What are this patient’s goals?” (not just, “What needs fixing?”). In another noteworthy feature, JeffMD integrates clinical experience, science instruction, and development of a professional persona - how you will interact with clients and peers - throughout the four years of medical school. JeffMD also allows you to customize your studies more than a traditional curriculum does: You will be encouraged to declare a specialty interest before the last phase of the curriculum so you can complete work on your core competencies in the context of that specialty.

Even among medical school curricula changing in similar directions, JeffMD is unusual for the degree of integration among clinical experience, science instruction, and professional development across all four years. The structure of Scholarly Inquiry is also unusual, allowing students to complete a series of projects and shift among tracks over four years.

In broad stroke, yes. You will still learn about all the major organ systems in the first phase of medical school, and complete a series of clinical rotations in the second phase. You will still incorporate fundamental science, such as anatomy and biochemistry, into everything you do. However, JeffMD students have a greater focus on case studies and problem-solving, frequently in small groups, that emphasizes critical thinking skills and clinical context. Constant and growing clinical experience is coupled with relevant science instruction.

Board scores in aggregate have stayed the same or risen in every medical school engaged in similar curriculum reform of which we are aware.

Yes. An interphase of eight weeks after the first phase of JeffMD allows students to study for USMLE, Step 1 without any scheduled academic activities. Many students spend about six weeks in intensive study and then take two weeks of vacation, but you can certainly change these proportions as you wish. Students have great flexibility in scheduling their Phase III electives and clerkships to allow ample time to prepare for USMLE, Step 2.

A first-year student might, for instance, spend time with patients finding out what they are most concerned about, what support systems they have at home, and what beliefs they have about their own health. You may be involved in patient education and helping to solve non-medical barriers to assist the patient in getting what they need to optimize their health. You may spend time learning about community resources and the roles of other healthcare professionals, so you know more about what they can bring to a care team. As your skills and knowledge increase, you will take on more responsibility, always with the guidance of a mentor.    

JeffMD is a competency-based curriculum. You will move from one phase to the next because you have demonstrated the needed competencies, not just because you have put in enough time and passed a test in a given subject. Faculty will evaluate your readiness to move on based on your knowledge, attitudes and skills measured in a variety of ways during each phase of JeffMD. The overall emphasis in this curriculum is on critical thinking skills rather than memorization.   

The grading system is pass/fail. SKMC will will no longer have the option to pass with honors. 

To hone their investigative skills, all students will complete a project or series of projects over their four years of medical school. You are able to choose a concentration of special interest to you, from eight different Scholarly Inquiry tracks. You will have a mentor supervising your progress and the opportunity to change concentrations at a couple of different points.

The best doctors have always been seekers; but today more than ever, the skills involved in the process of inquiry must be razor sharp. The electronic tools at any clinician’s fingertips mean the challenge is less finding information than assessing its value and applying it effectively and efficiently.  JeffMD’s Scholarly Inquiry component hones the skills of lifelong learning: formulating a good question, knowing where to seek knowledge and how to analyze what you find, and testing a reasonable hypothesis against the evidence.  

Students who are truly undecided can simply choose their final electives and clinical rotations, based on the skills and areas of knowledge they want to strengthen rather than the demands of a particular specialty.  

No matter what specialty you choose to explore in Phase III, you will still be rounding out the core competencies you need to complete medical school and enter a residency. Thus, you will be able to change specialties if you discover your original selection is not right for you.

Based on our graduates’ reputation for clinical excellence and solid fundamentals, SKMC graduates have always enjoyed superb options for residencies.

Email us at with your questions.  We will answer them as quickly as we can.

JeffMD Timetable

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JeffMD Timetable
PHASE 1 21 months

Focus on foundational science

Clinical experience, appropriate to student’s level, starts shortly after matriculation

Scholarly inquiry activities begin with choice of concentration and first project

Two months of vacation

Prep for USMLE Step 1

PHASE 2 12 months

Core clinical activities complimented by related science

Research and humanities threads continue

Four weeks of vacation

PHASE 3 12 months

Students encouraged to identify specialty interest

Time included to prep for USMLE Step 2 and take vacation

Science and skills training deepen exploration of specialty interest

Students continue to work on common and specialty competencies for residencies

Program of scholarly inquiry wraps up

Apply for post-graduate training

TOTAL 45 months
Matriculation to graduation

Sample Week

Chart showing a sample week