2022 Foundations Curriculum

The goal of this website is to keep faculty, staff and students up to date on Foundations renewal 2.0.  You will find the background and history of decisions; what work has been done and is currently underway, and coming attractions.  It also will be a place for people to provide feedback on the work.

Why Change?

In 2019, the US Department of Education issued guidelines for the length of quarters, limiting them to 9-13 weeks in length. The current UWSOM Foundations Curriculum contains two quarters (Fall 1 and Fall 2) which exceed this, each at 15 weeks of instruction. In order to come into compliance and continue to improve the quality of the Foundations education, a recommendation was made to the governance committees to establish workgroups to begin to review data about the curriculum with the goal to undergo change.

How did we get here?

In May 2020 a Foundations 2022 Data workgroup was formed. This group was charged to use a data-driven approach to review our current curriculum to learn about what is working well and to develop guiding principles which are listed below.  Charge Letter for Working Group and Foundations Data Review Workgroup Report.

In a parallel process, a student workgroup of MS2, MS3, and MS4 students from multiple Foundations sites was formed to determine student priorities for the 2022 renewal process. This group identified 3 key areas as student priority: Assessment/Preparation for Step 1; Content Order and Time; and Content Delivery. Their reports are available here.

Guiding Principles

  1. Foundations should be longer
  2. Blocks should be ≤ 8 weeks and more uniform in length
  3. Hematology should be earlier & before cardiovascular
  4. Special attention to HFF complexities when constructing schedule
  5. Threads need a larger and more coordinated/systematic presence in blocks
  6. Set time aside during Foundations for review & integration
  7. Consider burden of disease when determining depth of coverage
  8. Give more time to B&C, MSK, Immunology, & threads

The Curriculum Committee voted to approve these principles in July 2020.

Foundations Phase Schedule

A retreat was held on November 13, 2020, with the goal of developing alternative Foundations Phase schedules that follow the guiding principles established by the Curriculum Committee, are workable for all sites, and incorporate the preferences of all stakeholders.  Draft schedules containing several different alternative models were developed. The schedule presented focuses on when content is taught and in what order, but does not go into the details of specific sessions. Just as importantly, this schedule did not address the pedagogical and practical approaches of content delivery.

The current working schedule can be found here.

Ongoing Work

A 2022 Foundations Workgroup, co-chaired by Edith Wang and Meghan Kiefer, has been formed and will meet regularly to tackle the “wicked” problems of the 2022 Foundation Phase curriculum.  Dr. Suzanne Allen issued a charge letter inviting faculty members representing all blocks, threads, WWAMI sites, themes, and FCM; medical students; and members of the curriculum and student affairs to serve on this important workgroup.  Some of the topics this group is expected to address and make recommendations for are:

  • Thread representation in courses
  • Integration week structure and objectives
  • Foundations of Medical Science & Research (summer 1) course
  • Approach to course materials
  • Approach to course delivery

The 2022 Foundation Workgroup held its inaugural meeting on Thursday April 29, 2021 on zoom and the following slides were presented, Meeting 1: 2022 Working group slides.

We discussed that, while not an Official Mission Statement, it would be helpful to have a shared vision of the intent of the Foundation phase as we move towards problem-solving and developing recommendations. Minutes for the April 29 meeting are available for you to review here.

The next meeting of the 2022 Workgroup will be on Wednesday, May 12, 2021 from 4:00-5:30 pm PST.  The agenda will include a review of the draft Foundation Mission Statement and tackling the following questions:

  • What should be the objective for out of class preparatory materials?
  • What should be the objective for in-class, synchronous materials?

The workgroup met on Wednesday May 12, 2021 on zoom and the following slides were presented, Meeting 2: 2022 Working group slides.

We discussed the objectives and formats for in-class and out-of-class learning resources. Minutes for the May 12 meeting are available for you to review here.

The next meeting of the 2022 Workgroup will be Thursday, May 27, 2021 from 4-5:30 pm PST. The agenda will focus on Guiding Principle #5: Threads need a larger and more coordinated/systematic presence in blocks.

The workgroup met on Thursday May 27, 2021 on zoom and the following slides were presented, Meeting 3: 2022 Working group slides.

We reviewed the history of Threads and broke into small groups to address the following questions:

  • What does a successful thread look like?
  • What do threads need to achieve that vision of success (content materials, course hours, assessments, relationship with block/block material)?

Minutes for the May 27 meeting are available for you to review here.

Curriculum retreat for Foundations 2022
Date: June 8, 2021
Time: 10:00 am – 3:00 pm Pacific

A WWAMI-wide curriculum retreat took place on Tuesday June 8, 2021 from 10 am to 3 pm PST on Zoom. All faculty members and staff involved in the planning, materials preparation, and teaching of Foundation phase content were invited to participate.  View a list of the attendees here.

You can view the meeting recording here.


Agenda Item


Time Stamp

Introduction Mark Whipple 0:00:00 – 0:04:42
Purpose, Rules and Agenda Edith Wang 0:04:43 – 0:09:06
Growth Mindset Alvin Calderon 0:09:06 – 1:00:54
2022 Foundations Workgroup John Willford 1:00:54 – 1:19:24
Break (10 minutes)
Novice & Expert Brains Ceradwen Tokheim 1:19:25 – 1:46:33
Brunch Break / Foundations 2022 Schedule (optional) Edith Wang 1:46:33 – 2:08:22
Breakout rooms (9 rounds of 5 minutes each)
*See a description of the activity below
Edith Wang 2:08:22 – 2:15:09
Next steps / Future focus areas for blocks All 2:15:10 – 3:31:31


Breakout Rooms Activity Description: Attendees self-identified which of the following disciplines or blocks they are a member of:

Design & Delivery
Human Form & Function
Research Methods
Foundations of Clinical Medicine (FCM)
Pathology / Histology
Genetics, Physiology (FMR)


BlockContent Covered
Fundamentals in Medical Science & Research Basic sciences, Epidemiology/Biostatistics
Cancer, Hormones, & BloodOncology, Endocrine, Hematology
Infections & ImmunityMicrobiology, Immunology
Muscles, Joints, Bones, & SkinMusculoskeletal, Rheumatology, Dermatology
Cardiovascular systemCardiology
Air, Fluids, & SaltsPulmonary, Renal
Head, Neck, & GutGastrointestinal
Mind, Brain, & BehaviorNeurology, Psychiatry


Discipline representatives were sent to breakout rooms where they remained for the duration of the activity while the block representatives rotated through each breakout room for 5-minute discussions. Discipline representatives acted as scribes and recorded notes that you can review here (please note, not all disciplines recorded notes).