Clinical Presentation Continuum

Preclinical Education

About the CPC

The clinical presentation continuum curriculum consists of two course tracks: medical knowledge and clinical skills. Students are enrolled in both medical knowledge and clinical skills courses throughout the entirety of their first two years, with all CPC students taking the same courses at the same time.

Medical Knowledge 

The medical knowledge component of the clinical presentation continuum curriculum is organized around clinical presentations that reflect common and/or important patient encounters in primary care medicine, with the clinical presentations grouped together around organ systems. Students are given an explicit list of faculty-identified learning topics that provide explicit direction to guide student study. The CPC emphasizes learning in a clinical context and strives to encourage active, engaged, and independent learning to prepare students for a career of lifelong learning.

Medical knowledge courses are divided into blocks of curricular content (example: cardiovascular), two or more of which are presented during each academic term of each year. These blocks are further segmented into weekly modules identified by a theme or clinical presentation (example: palpitations). The schedule for each module incorporates a variety of teaching/learning approaches, including:

  • lectures and panel discussions in large groups;
  • laboratory experiences covering gross anatomy, histology, microbiology, etc.;
  • problem sets;
  • and generous time allotments reserved for student-directed study.

At least once per block the students participate in an activity with a faculty panel of experts that may include representatives of the basic sciences, clinical medicine and social medicine. These activities are typically modeled around a patient case and are designed to help students synthesize and integrate the material.

Clinical Skills

The clinical skills component of the CPC consists of four semester-long courses throughout the first two years. The clinical skills courses incorporate a variety of teaching/learning activities, including:

Clinical skills coursework is intended to prepare students in the following areas:

  • fundamentals of interviewing patients for medical history, including the psychosocial aspects of interviewing and patient interaction
  • performing physical examinations of patients, including osteopathic structural assessment and palpatory diagnosis
  • incorporating osteopathic manipulative examination and treatment into patient care
  • applying medical knowledge and skills to patient care in a supervised clinical setting
  • working as a member of a learning team to solve clinical problems related to osteopathic medical practice
  • applying evidence-based medicine concepts to all clinical decision-making.

Instructor expectations of students are specified by a list of explicit clinical skills learning topics, which constitute the basis for student assessment (exams).

Case-Based Learning

Case-Based Learning

The CPC curriculum provides students with opportunities to learn the biomedical science fundamentals of medicine in an integrated, clinically-relevant environment. This faculty-directed curriculum uses the most common and/or important symptoms that patients present to primary care providers as its organizing focus.

Goals and Purpose of CBL Groups


The primary purposes of the small group-learning format are for students to:

  1. Develop life-long learning skills and enhance medical knowledge by assessing, explaining, discussing, systematic reasoning and applying medical knowledge in the context of clinical case presentations for integrated learning and better long-term recall.
  2. Develop and demonstrate social, interpersonal, communication and collaboration skills that prepare students to establish and maintain professional relationships with patients, families, health care team members and a diverse patient population.
  3. Develop the skills of critical thinking, research, evaluation, teaching, providing and receiving feedback, exploration, and cooperation.

Note:  The AOA Core Competencies served as a resource for the wording for these purpose statements.


  • To learn the “language of medicine” by presenting and discussing case studies
  • To explore the process of medical reasoning
  • To begin to develop skills in problem solving
  • To learn to integrate concepts/principles in basic science, clinical information, ethics, psychosocial, epidemiology, etc.
  • To provide a memorable clinical context for acquiring, retaining and recalling knowledge
  • To provide a “safe learning environment"
  • To practice independent learning, self-direction
  • To experience and acquire collaborative learning skills (sharing information & utilizing strengths of group)
  • To learn the skill of teaching others
  • To understand and value differences
  • To develop as a professional
  • To learn and foster group process / group interaction skills
  • To learn how to help make a group a “learning team” dedicated to maximizing the learning of each individual in the group