Principal Clinical Experience (PCE) Requirements

Medical Education

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Principal Clinical Experience (PCE) Course Requirements

Year III
Medicine (12 weeks)
Surgery (12 weeks)
Obstetrics and Gynecology (6 weeks)
Pediatrics (6 weeks)
Neurology (4 weeks)
Psychiatry (4 weeks)
Radiology (4 weeks)
Patient-Doctor III (longitudinal)
Primary Care Clerkship (longitudinal)
Principal Clinical Experience course (longitudinal) 

Students whose entry to the PCE is delayed beyond April should consult with their Academic Society and the HMS Registrar regarding their PCE schedule and plan for fulfilling their requirements for the M.D. degree.

For students who are unable to start their PCE clerkship rotations in April (e.g., HST students coming back from research or students who have permission to delay USMLE Step I), attendance at the longitudinal sessions is required beginning in April. It is anticipated that all students will complete the PCE core clerkships prior to entering the Advanced Experiences in Clinical Medicine and Basic Science curriculum.

Students who start PCE clerkships after the April rotation may request permission to take advanced electives before completing the core clerkships when there is a compelling academic reason to do so. This request will be subject to the approval of the Academic Society, the PCE Director, and the HMS Registrar. To qualify for this exception, a student must have completed the equivalent of 12 months of PCE longitudinal experiences and 10 months of core clerkship experiences. In this case students will be required to complete one of the two remaining one month core clerkships no later than June following the PCE and the other one month core clerkship no later than November following the PCE. PCE core clerkships are the prerequisites to advanced electives; in the rare instance a student is missing a core clerkship, he/she will be required to complete the core prior to enrolling in the advanced elective (i.e., core psychiatry is a prerequisite to any of the advanced psychiatry electives).

Because teh PCE is designed as a continuous, longitudinal block, every effort will be made by the faculty to help students complete the full 12-month course in sequence. Occasionally, however, students may have academic or personal difficulties that result in interruption of the PCE. In such cases, the following guidelines apply:

  • Students are required to complete the Primary Care Clerkship and all components of the PCE longitudinal curriculum. Arrangements for meeting these requirements will depend on the length and timing of the interruption and will be made in conjunction with the PCE director and the HMS Registrar.
  • If a student misses up to 3 months of the PCE, generally (and with the permission of the PCE Director), he/she can re-enter the PCE with his/her class. The months of clerkships missed (but not the longitudinal curricular components of the PCE) will be made up at the end of the PCE, preferably at the original PCE site, if space is available. If the interruption occurs during a four-week or six-week clerkship, the entire clerkship must be repeated. If the interruption occurs during a 12-week clerkship, the student will re-enter at the beginning of a 4-week block of the 12-week clerkship, depending on when the interruption occurred. For example, if the interruption occurs during the second 4-week block, the student would re-enter at the beginning of the second 4-week block.
  • If a student misses 4-5 months of the PCE, a committee of PCE leadership will consider the optimal approach for the student to fulfill core clerkship and PCE requirements and will design an alternative schedule that ensure fulfillment of the educational requirements for the M.D. degree. The guidelines for up to 3 months will apply.
  • If a student misses more than 5 months of the PCE, re-entry is not an option, and the student will be required to restart the longitudinal components of the PCE during the next class cycle. Clerkships that were completed before the interruption need not be repeated unless there is an academic reason to do so. The guidelines for up to 3 months will apply in such cases as well.




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