Clerkship Program

The Family Medicine Clerkship is a required six-week third year rotation. There are eight rotations throughout the year serving approximately 130 students. Kathleen Raschka, MD is the Clerkship Director, Rebecca Maddrell, MD, is the Assistant Clerkship Director, and Margaret Stefani Higgins is the Education Coordinator. 

During the clerkship, all students are expected to accomplish a core group of competencies in: 1) patient care; 2) health promotion and disease prevention: and 3) professionalism. In the clinic setting, students assess and manage acute and chronic medical problems frequently encountered in the family practice setting, however, the importance of establishing physician-patient relationships, and understanding the therapeutic role these relationships confer is also emphasized.

The clerkship begins with a one day orientation and concludes with a final half-day for a written exam and evaluation. The orientation involves various speakers from the department and affiliated Family Medicine sites. Topics include common ambulatory problems, principles of community-oriented primary care, the family physician's role in patient care, health promotion and disease prevention, evidence-based clinical reasoning, and many others. The topics are continually updated and take into account the students growing experience from prior rotations. Mid-rotation, students return to the Loyola campus to present a biopsychosocial project and to review their experience and evaluation. Students receive a clerkship manual which outlines expectations, projects, and resources.

Students complete several assigned projects including a log book of patient encounters, a procedural checklist, a biopsychosocial project, and an evidence-based medicine project. These are incorporated into the assignment of a final grade, which relies most heavily on clinical performance. The final exam is also figured into the final grade. The textbook required for the course is Fundamentals of Family Medicine by Taylor.

A director at each clerkship site is responsible for the students' educational experience. At least thirty hours a week are spent in direct ambulatory care, with the remaining time used for reading and completing assignments, rounding on inpatients, and attending educational programs. Students are matched to sites through a lottery process which takes student preferences into account. Sites available to students include private practitioners' offices of various size, and ambulatory care centers associated with family practice residency programs. Settings are diverse and include inner city, rural, urban, and suburban. This range of choices makes the Family Medicine Clerkship unique at Loyola. It is the first rotation to offer rural, out-of-town sites. Criteria for participation as a site include adequate patient volumes, enthusiasm for teaching, a supportive office staff, quality clinical care, and clinical teaching experience.

In 2003, Family Medicine became one of the first core clerkships to require a clinical skills exercise. The intent of this encounter is to reflect the knowledge, skills, and attitudes that the student have acquired during their family medicine rotation. The ultimate goal is to provide a better mechanism for the teaching and evaluation of students' clinical competency throughout their medical school training.

The clerkship continues to receive high scores from the students. Their written comments reflect satisfaction with the excellent quality of teaching provided by the preceptors, the collegial atmosphere throughout the clerkship, and the diversity of patients seen. This feedback is compiled and returned to our preceptors on an annual basis. This response has translated into a steady increase in the number of Loyola graduates choosing family medicine as a career.