The primary goal of A.T. Still University's School of Osteopathic Medicine in Arizona (SOMA) is to create exceptional physicians. SOMA integrates a unique and innovative curriculum combined with early clinical experiences that prepares students for valuable and meaningful future in osteopathic medicine.

1+3 Model

Utilizing a "1+3" model, SOMA students are placed in the clinical setting much earlier than in many other medical schools that utilize a "2+2" model. During their first year on the Mesa campus, students’ didactic coursework is supplemented with standardized patient interactions, simulations, medical skills, and osteopathic manipulative medicine. Beginning in year 2, the students begin rotating with preceptors in one of 12 community campuses around the nation. While didactic instruction continues, patient interaction, professionalism, ethics, preventive medicine, and communication skills are emphasized in years 2-4.

In year two, students join one of our 12 select community campuses located in health centers across the country. During year two, SOMA students encounter the opportunity to observe patient care first-hand while at the same time continuing their academic education through various distance education technologies. Students will also continue their small group learning, lead by community campus faculty who are also working as practicing physicians.

Clinical Presentation on Curricular Model

The ultimate goal of the SOMA educational program is to provide opportunities for medical students to acquire a solid foundation in the knowledge, skills, values, attitudes, and behaviors that are necessary for the effective practice of medicine. In order to achieve this goal, SOMA has adopted a clinical presentation or scheme presentation model that serves as the foundation of its curriculum. This model is based on the various ways patients present to physicians. Collectively, the clinical presentations represent common patient complaints (e.g., headache, abdominal pain), abnormalities of physical examination (e.g., systolic heart murmur), or abnormalities of commonly ordered laboratory studies, (e.g., anemia, hypocalcemia). Altogether, there are approximately 120 +/- 5 presentations that comprise the SOMA curriculum. The presentations serve as a starting point for the generation of relevant curricular content.

Basic and Clinical Science Integration

The SOMA curriculum is also designed to integrate basic and clinical sciences together in relation to their relevance to the clinical presentations. Traditional medical schools in the United States typically have learners first acquire knowledge in various fields of the basic sciences such as anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, pharmacology and many others during the first 2 years of a curriculum (pre-clinical phase). This knowledge is then expected to be used by learners to diagnose clinical problems during third- and fourth-year clerkships (clinical phase). Research over the past few years in the area of the cognitive sciences has found this transfer of knowledge to be difficult and that many learners have to learn again in the clinical phase what they “learned” in the pre-clinical phase. Through the union of both basic and clinical science, there is no need for students to restructure their knowledge upon entering third- and fourth-year clinical clerkships.

Curriculum Orginization

At SOMA, the clinical presentations are organized based upon the organ system to which they most logically fit, leading to a complete set of organ-system based courses that are offered during the first 2 years of the curriculum. Thus, presentations such as abdominal pain or constipation are taught in the gastrointestinal course. In addition to the organ system-based courses, the SOMA curriculum also contains courses in medical skills, osteopathic principles and practice, early clinical experiences and integrated clinical experiences.

Take a look at SOMA's Catalog for more information.

Student Doctor Year 1 (47 weeks total)

1 week

MED500

Well Patient & Healthy Community

6 weeks

MED501

Principles of Medicine

6 weeks

MED502

Musculoskeletal

8 weeks

MED503A

Neurosciences I

3 weeks

MED503B

Neurosciences II

11 weeks

MED504

Cardiopulmonary

7 weeks

MED505

Renal

5 weeks

MED506

Endocrine

Student Doctor Year 2 (41 weeks total)

6 weeks

MED601

Reproductive

3 weeks

MED602

Urology

7 weeks

MED603

Gastrointestinal

3 weeks

MED604

Dermatology

5 weeks

MED605

Hematology

5 weeks

MED607

Human Development

4 weeks

MED606

Mind

4 weeks

MED608

Integrative

16 weeks

MED609A

Medical Skills III

25 weeks

MED609B

Medical Skills IV

16 weeks

MED610A

Osteopathic Principles & Practices III

26 weeks

MED610B

Osteopathic Principles & Practices IV

16 weeks

MED611A

Integrated Clinical Experience I

26 weeks

MED611B

Integrated Clinical Experience II

In year two, students join one of our 12 select community campuses located in health centers across the country. During year two, SOMA students encounter the opportunity to observe patient care first-hand while at the same time continuing their academic education through various distance education technologies. Students will also continue their small group learning, lead by community campus faculty who are also working as practicing physicians.

Student Doctor Year 3 (46 weeks total)

Students gain valuable clinical exposure during over the course of the third year. Radiology and anesthesia experiences are integrated into a number of the clearkships. Wherever possible, learning occurs as a part of an integrated set of experiences instead of divided and distinctive blocks. This method allows for the observation of several patients who may be receiving more than one treatment for more than one condition.

4 weeks

Pediatrics

4 weeks

Psychiatry

4 weeks

General Surgery

4 weeks

Obstetrics/Gynecology

8 weeks

Internal Medicine

4 weeks

Maternal/Child Health

8 weeks

Family Practice

4 weeks

Primary Care Selective **

6 weeks

Elective *

*Electives are not limited to any list of disciplines; however it is generally recommended that students choose their elective from the Primary Care Selectives list.

**Primary Care Selectives are limited to the following disciplines: family medicine, general pediatrics, general internal medicine, geriatrics, international health experience, ambulatory OB/GYN, radiology, managed care, HIV, osteopathic manipulative medicine, preventative medicine/public health, adolescent health, dermatology, emergency medicine, sports medicine, environmental & occupational medicine, rehabilitation medicine.

Student Doctor Year 4 (42 weeks total)

The fourth year clerkships are comprised of discipline based sub-internships and selective/elective experiences.

4 weeks

Critical Care

4 weeks

Cardiology

4 weeks

Emergency Medicine

2 weeks

Neurology

16 weeks

Selectives **

12 weeks

Electives *

**Selectives are limited to the following time periods - 4 weeks Pediatric based, 4 weeks Surgery based, 8 weeks Medicine based; of which specific disciplines can be chosen from this list: addiction medicine, anesthesiology, bioethics, clinical genetics, clinical immunology/allergy, critical care, cardiology, dermatology, endocrinology, ENT, emergency medicine, family medicine, general surgery, gerontology, gastroenterology, health care management & public health, internal medicine, infectious disease, interventional radiology, maternal-fetal medicine, nephrology, nuclear medicine, OB-GYN, oncology/hematology, osteopathic principles & practices, ophthalmology, orthopedic surgery, pediatrics, psychiatry, pain management, physical medicine & rehabilitation, pulmonary medicine, pathology, radiology, rheumatology, rural/underserved family medicine, sports medicine, toxicology, thoracic surgery, transplant medicine, and urology.