Shared Discovery Curriculum

Shared Discovery Curriculum Mission:

The Shared Discovery Curriculum nurtures, educates and graduates students who are ready, willing and able to be exemplary new residents and practicing physicians.


We complete our mission by putting the patient at the center of the educational enterprise, focusing on the following Shared Discovery strategies:

  • Early and ongoing clinical experience for students
  • Integrated basic and clinical sciences throughout the curriculum
  • Collaborative learning for faculty and students
  • Flexible programming
  • Alignment of evaluations with curricular content and real-world performance
  • Assuring competence and striving for excellence

The Shared Discovery Curriculum (SDC), implemented in 2016, is built around three longitudinal patient care experiences:

  • early clinical experience (ECE) in year 1,
  • middle clinical experience (MCE) in year 2, and
  • late clinical experience (LCE) in years 3 and 4.

These experiences afford students the opportunity to integrate their necessary (basic, clinical, and social) science knowledge within the context of authentic patient care. Each experience is designed to scaffold student learning as students develop their medical knowledge, skills and professional identity.

In the ECE, students work to build an understanding of the basics of patient care through coursework, clinical simulation and lab work. During clinic in the first year, students work to understand how a clinic functions and practice foundational patient care skills in a longitudinal primary care setting. In the MCE, students build on and deepen their knowledge from the ECE. This year, clinical experiences are focused on understanding the role of many different health professionals and clinical specialties. During the LCE, students are based in one of 8 communities, and engage in coursework and clinical work in their community setting as they prepare to become accomplished residents. 

The Michigan State University College of Human Medicine was established in 1964 as a community-based medical school. We have two 4-year campuses and eight 2-year campuses for third- and fourth-year students. At each campus, students complete required and elective rotations within partner hospital systems and ambulatory sites. Our mission is to educate exemplary physicians and scholars, discover and disseminate new knowledge, and provide service at home and abroad. We enhance our communities by providing outstanding primary and specialty care, promoting the dignity and inclusion of all people, and responding to the needs of the medically underserved.

The Shared Discovery Curriculum (SDC) at Michigan State University's College of Human Medicine represents a radical departure from traditional educational models, emphasizing usefulness and experience as a framework for adult education. To that end, the SDC is structured around case-based learning, ambulatory and inpatient clinical experiences, and large- and small-group discussions. Featuring the blending of curriculum and experience, we enact a community-focused medical school experience responsive to the health care needs of Michigan and the country – and in the educational best interests of diverse learners.

The SDC is guided by educational research that tells us:

  • Active processing of information by learners, enhances understanding
  • Cooperative learning, that is, learning with others, is more effective than learning individually
  • Feedback is an essential component of learning. Feedback should be varied and provided by faculty, peers, self-reflection, assessments, etc.
  • Longitudinal mentoring supports learners in integrating their personal and professional development, increases engagement, and reduces burnout
  • Engagement is the opposite of burnout and leads to a high level of satisfaction for learners and faculty.
  • Learning in a social context focuses attention on learning as a social and collaborative enterprise, rather than an individual experience

The Five Shared Discovery Innovations:

The Chief Complaints and Concerns: define the end-competencies of the educational program utilizing an integrative framework centered on what happens in the workplace.

Just In Time Medicine: curricular/assessment software drives the curriculum.

Early, Middle and Late Clinical Experiences: are longitudinal and take place in authentic patient care environments where students are useful members of the healthcare team

The Academy and Learning Societies: provide structure for small group learning, educator development, and support in a challenging environment while strengthening the learner/educator dynamic.

The Progress Suite of Assessments: ensures assessment across all 4 years with more formative feedback and more robust, less frequent summative assessment.