Clerkship Descriptions

Anesthesiology

The anesthesiology clerkship is a one-week rotation. Students obtain clinical experience in the operating room under supervision, reinforced with didactic teaching sessions. The primary goals of the clerkship are to:

  • increase capability of initiating appropriate therapy in acute problems that lead to respiratory and circulatory arrest
  • become familiar with the role of the anesthesiologist in the operating room, in the intensive care unit, as the respiratory therapy consultant, and in pain management
  • help students learn fundamental anesthetic technique, procedures, and preanesthetic patient evaluation and preparation
  • acquire techniques of IV placement and airway management
  • review pharmacology of vasoactive drugs and their physiologic effects

Saundra Curry, MD
Course Director
Email: sc42@cumc.columbia.edu

Medicine

The medicine clerkship is a ten-week rotation, six weeks of which are spent at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital's Milstein Hospital Building and four weeks at one of the following: Harlem Hospital, Stamford Hospital, the Allen Hospital, or the James J. Peter's Veteran's Hospital (part of the 12-week mini longitudinal program). This course emphasizes the integration and application of pathophysiology to the diagnosis and management of patients in addition to the skills of history-taking, physical examination, and case presentation. The course is an apprenticeship focusing on the bedside care of patients. Students work closely with house staff members and ward attendings making daily rounds, admitting new patients, and caring for them with the team. Students also participate in preceptor group small case-based seminar sessions that meet regularly throughout each of the five-week segments of the ten-week clerkship.

Katherine G. Nickerson, MD
Course Director
Email: kgn1@cumc.columbia.edu

Neurological Surgery

The week of neurological surgery will acquaint the student with neurosurgical problems and their management, including central nervous system and spinal cord trauma, spinal herniated disc and degenerative conditions, subarachnoid hemorrhage, extracranial carotid vascular disease, brain tumors, and hydrocephalus. Students observe and/or assist in neurosurgical operations, meet with their attending preceptor for discussion of various neurosurgical topics, evaluate outpatients, and attend educational conferences.

Guy McKhann, MD
Course Director
Email: gm317@cumc.columbia.edu

Neurology

The neurology clerkship is a six-week introduction to clinical neurology, the specialty of medicine devoted to patients with diseases of the nervous system.  It includes one week of neurosurgery, described separately. The essential tools for the evaluation of neurological disease are the neurological history, neurological exam, and specialized diagnostic testing, including neuroimaging.

The clerkship emphasizes the basic clinical methods of bedside neurology: Based on the history and examination, students develop skills at neuroanatomical localization and clinical reasoning. Students learn to interpret clinical findings, develop a differential diagnosis, and formulate a plan of evaluation.

Over the course of five weeks, students develop a basic understanding and management approach for the major neurological problems: stroke, headache, epilepsy, dementia, parkinsonism, multiple sclerosis, coma, brain and spinal cord injury, diseases of the spinal cord, tumors of the nervous system, back pain and sciatica, peripheral neuropathy, infections of the nervous system, pediatric neurology, and neurological emergencies.

Students participate directly in the care of patients in the neurology services and ambulatory clinics at Columbia University Medical Center. Additional learning experiences include general and subspecialty conferences, daily teaching attending rounds, weekly core didactic sessions to review the neurological examination in adults and children, neuroimaging interpretation, neurological problem-solving, preceptor group sessions, and the Clinical Practice 3 session, focusing on communication, hope, and empathy.

Students undergo an observed neurological history and examination, and feedback is provided at the mid-point of the rotation. Students are encouraged to take advantage of the many conferences and educational resources of the Department of Neurology. Evaluation is based on all aspects of clinical performance, oral presentations, patient write-ups, an Objective Standardized Clinical Examination (OSCE), and the National Board of Medical Examiners clerkship shelf exam.

Comana Cioroiu, MD
Course Director
Email: cmc192@cumc.columbia.edu

Obstetrics and Gynecology

The obstetrics and gynecology clerkship is a five-week rotation spent either at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital or Stamford Hospital. The main objective is to familiarize students with the signs and symptoms of normal and abnormal reproductive function and to teach the basic examinations in obstetrics and gynecology. The course will emphasize and reinforce skills for taking an appropriate history, performing a physical and pelvic examination, formulating a differential diagnosis as well as a treatment plan, and properly managing patients.

The student may gain exposure to the medical-surgical aspects in the subspecialty areas of gynecologic oncology, reproductive endocrinology, and perinatology.

The primary didactic vehicles will consist of formal lectures with assigned readings. Small-group preceptor sessions along with conferences will supplement the core.

Dara Matseoane-Peterssen, MD
Course Director
Email: dnm14@cumc.columbia.edu

Ophthalmology

During the course of the Neurology and Neurosurgery Clerkship, students spend one week of mornings on the Ophthalmology service being introduced to the various components of ophthalmologic examination and evaluation. During that week, students will participate in Morning Report, spend a significant amount of time in the operating room, and will also rotate with the Consult service and the faculty practice. In addition, students will attend interactive lectures every Wednesday of the 6-week block, and will take part in a skills workshop at the beginning of the 12-week Medicine/Neurology/Neurosurgery set. By the end of the Ophthalmology Clerkship, students will have the ability to perform a basic ophthalmic history and examination, and will have a broad understanding of ophthalmic anatomy and disease.

Lora Dagi Glass, MD
Course Director
Email: ld2514@cumc.columbia.edu

Orthopedic Surgery

Medical students spend a didactic one-week rotation in orthopedic surgery. The primary teacher is an attending, with some lectures and demonstrations by the resident staff. Students attend subspecialty conferences, rounds, and patient clinics and participate in surgical procedures.

At the end of the rotation, the student should be able to:

  • take an orthopedic history and perform an orthopedic physical examination
  • understand the pathophysiology of the more common orthopedic disorders
  • identify the basic diagnostic and therapeutic approaches to common musculoskeletal disorders (both medical and surgical)
  • leave with a sense of how an orthopedic service is administered and its relationship to other medical disciplines

Joshua E. Hyman, MD
Course Director
Email: jh736@cumc.columbia.edu

Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery

Students spend one week on the service being introduced to the various aspects of the specialty, including otology/neurotology, head and neck surgery, facial plastic and reconstructive surgery, and pediatric otolaryngology. Emphasis is placed on developing basic knowledge in the specialty and in acquiring the skills of the otolaryngologic examination. This is achieved through active participation in patient care in the ENT clinic and offices, the speech and hearing department, and the operating room.

David A. Gudis, MD
Course Director
Email: dag62@cumc.columbia.edu

Pediatrics

Students spend five weeks in pediatrics either at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital or Harlem Hospital. The rotation is divided between inpatient and outpatient experiences. The emphasis is on learning to care for children and families in a variety of patient care settings and developing the clinical skills, diagnostic reasoning, and basic management strategies core to the practice of pediatrics. Attendings and house officers emphasize normal child development as well as the role illness plays in the lives of children and families. Patient care experience is supplemented with daily rounds, conferences, lectures, and case-based seminars.

Marina Catallozzi, MD, MSCE
Course Director
Email: mc2840@cumc.columbia.edu

Primary Care

This five-week clinical clerkship provides an exciting opportunity for students to have clinical experiences in ambulatory practices in rural, suburban, and urban settings. Students will learn the core skills and knowledge essential to the practice of primary care: diagnosis and treatment of common outpatient complaints, management of chronic medical conditions, and strategies for health promotion and disease prevention. Students will be precepted by faculty in family medicine, general medicine, and/or general pediatrics.

The teaching sites for the five-week clerkship are: Bassett Healthcare (Cooperstown, NY), Stamford Family Medicine Residency Program, Stamford Hospital General Medicine Residency Program, Harlem Hospital Center General Medicine Residency Program, Bronx Veteran’s Administration, NYP/CUMC Family Medicine Residency Program, Columbia Medical Group-White Plains, Croton-on-Hudson, CHCN Washington Heights, Associates in Internal Medicine (CUMC), or the Indian Health Service at Whiteriver Family Medicine IHS (Whiteriver, AZ), Zuni Family Medicine IHS (Zuni, NM), Shiprock Internal Medicine/Pediatrics IHS (Shiprock, NM), or Shiprock Family Medicine IHS.

The clinical experience is augmented by an online curriculum covering common outpatient conditions and basic principles in preventive medicine.

Nancy Chang, MD
Course Director
Email: nmc5@cumc.columbia.edu

Anita Softness, MD
Assistant Clerkship Director
Email: as795@cumc.columbia.edu

Psychiatry

Students spend their five-week psychiatry clerkship assigned to one of the following clinical sites: NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Psychiatric Institute, Harlem Hospital, Gracie Square Hospital, Rockland Psychiatric Center, or Creedmoor Psychiatric Center/NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. All students evaluate and follow patients on inpatient and outpatient services, child psychiatry, and the psychiatric emergency room, participating in their patients' care with close attending and resident supervision. The acquisition of clinical skills is emphasized: conducting an interview to obtain a psychiatric history and mental status examination; organizing, recording, and presenting the findings to generate a differential diagnosis; and formulating a treatment plan in accordance with the biopsychosocial model. Seminars complement the clinical experience by enhancing the knowledge base necessary to master these skills.

Janis Cutler, MD
Course Director
Email: jlc12@cumc.columbia.edu

Urology

The urology clerkship is a one-week experience. Common urologic problems will be discussed during lectures and at bedside clinical teaching seminars, in clinics, and in the operating rooms. Emphasis will be placed on recognizing, diagnosing, and teaching common diseases of the genitourinary system. All students will be assigned patients for individual evaluation. Each student will be required to write a short paper during the rotation.

Gina Badalato, MD
Course Director
Email: gmb2107@columbia.edu

Surgery

The clerkship in general surgery is offered at four clinical sites: NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center campus, where students are assigned to teams at the Milstein Hospital Building, Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital, or the Allen Hospital; and off-site at Stamford Hospital (Stamford, CT), Bassett Healthcare (Cooperstown, NY), or Harlem Hospital. Doris Leddy is the clerkship coordinator.

At all sites, students work closely with faculty preceptors as well as with the resident physician teams. The course is designed to provide clinical experience to improve skills in overall patient care as students apply their knowledge of the basic sciences and expand their knowledge base through exposure to the wide variety of patients and procedures that fall into the realm of general surgery. Students become a valued member of the team as they assume responsibility for the overall care of their patients preoperatively and postoperatively and assist in the operating room. There are team-specific conferences, outpatient visits, emergency room consultations, and night calls (one night in four) to supplement inpatient "floor" learning. Students improve their clinical skills as they get appropriate feedback throughout the rotation and will demonstrate their increased knowledge on the written "shelf exam" as well as their clinical skills on the oral exam at the completion of the clerkship. We hope that the rotation proves to be an enriching experience that at least matches our enthusiasm as we greet each new group of students.

Roman Nowygrod, MD
Course Director
Email: rn5@cumc.columbia.edu

Selectives

Selectives are one-week opportunities to get a glimpse of a specialty that students would not otherwise have exposure to during the Major Clinical Year. In partnership with our affiliates we currently offer selectives in the following departments:

  • Dermatology
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Radiology
  • Radiation Oncology
  • Rehabilitation Medicine
  • Spinal Cord Injury
  • Palliative Medicine

Mechanisms and Practice

Mechanisms and Practice is an integrative "back to classroom" experience that takes place during two one-week periods in the spring and fall of the Major Clinical Year. During these weeks, all students return to campus. Sessions are designed to promote analysis of clinical cases on levels ranging from the molecular to the population in order to foster reflection and teamwork, to enhance procedural and communication skills, and to build medical decision-making capacity. Time is allotted for exploration of scholarly projects, meetings with advisory deans and other mentors, preparation for upcoming clerkships, and individual commitments.

Mike J. Devlin, MD
Course Director
Email: mjd5@cumc.columbia.edu

Patrice Spitalnik, MD
Course Director
Email: pfs2101@cumc.columbia.edu

MCY Foundations

The goal of MCY Foundations is to foster the continuing practice of individual and group reflection on patient-physician relationships in the context of the clinical rotations. Discussion sessions co-led by a Foundations of Clinical Medicine preceptor and senior student co-leaders focus on the transition to clinical clerkships, emerging concept of the doctor-patient relationship (medicine clerkship), professional values and the “culture” of the operating room (anesthesiology clerkship), sociocultural assessment (primary care clerkship), working with pain and suffering (obstetrics and gynecology clerkship), the appreciation of multiple perspectives in situations of conflict (pediatrics clerkship), intense emotional responses in clinical work (psychiatry clerkship), balancing hope and realism in serious illness (neurology clerkship), and managing uncertainty and unexpected outcomes (surgery clerkship). Students are asked to prepare brief written reflections prior to the shared group reflection.

Mike J. Devlin, MD
Course Director
Email: mjd5@cumc.columbia.edu