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First Year WWAMI Courses


Fall Semester   Spring Semester

MSU-Bozeman Catalog Course Descriptions of Medical Sciences Courses

MEDS 510 Microscopic Anatomy (Histology)

Course Description:

This is a course in the anatomy of the organ systems of the body as seen with the light and electron microscope. Each organ system is covered in both lectures and laboratories. Correlations with Gross Anatomy and the physiological function of the organ systems are emphasized. The course is an important building block for the understanding of pathology, which is taught during the second year at UW. A few examples of the microscopic anatomy of diseased organs are presented in order to illustrate the importance of microscopic anatomy in understanding human disease. Students participate in the teaching of this course by presenting short introductions to laboratories. A textbook, laboratory syllabus and CD are used.  Computers will be used for most laboratory assignments.

MEDS 511 Anatomy (Gross)

  • Course Chair: Cassie Cusick, Ph.D.
  • Adjunct Instructor: Anthony Goodman, M.D.
  • Office: 508 Leon Johnson Hall
  • Phone: 994-3993
  • E-mail:
  • 4 Credits (Lec 2, Lab 2)
  • MEDS 551 Gross Anatomy Course Web Page

Course Description:

The course has three major components: dissection anatomy, living or surface anatomy, and embryology. The three components are integrated into an overview of anatomy with frequent mention of practical relevance in the clinical setting. This course covers the thorax, abdomen, pelvis, and perineum. Head and neck are covered spring semester in MedS 531, followed by the extremities, MEDS 551.

Students typically meet for lecture and for laboratory once per week. Because anatomy is a visual, three-dimensional subject, lectures focus on preparation for dissection by the use of projected images and drawings, as well as providing perspectives about learning the material and its practical relevance, the relationships of structures to each other, and integration of development with gross anatomy. Notes are provided for most of the lectures so that the student can concentrate on the visual presentations. The dissection laboratory requires students to work in teams of two or three and to use the dissection of human cadavers to learn anatomy as visual images. Preparation, including reading, diagraming, and lecture absorption, is essential to best use the laboratory time. Surface anatomy laboratories require students to work in teams of two or three to demonstrate on each other the placement, size, and shape of individual organs. This is done by using felt-tip pens to map out internal organs. All students participate in surface anatomy drawing and palpation, but participation as a "model" is not required.

Performance is evaluated in bi-weekly quizzes (that include both lecture and lab material) and a comprehensive final exam common to all WWAMI sites. The quizzes include tag or "show me" examinations in the laboratory and written quizzes use short answer questions, some involving drawings or relationships.

Several texts and atlases are available in the bookstore. It is best to buy texts after orientation when the options are explained.

MEDS 512 Mechanisms In Cellular Physiology

Course Description:

Physiology incorporates and integrates knowledge from a handful of related disciplines, including physics, chemistry, and biochemistry. The course is taught with an eye towards developing a strong conceptual as well as factual understanding of bodily functions. Such an understanding of normal functions is crucial to appreciate the mechanisms of diseases.

We have three goals for this course. The first is to give you an in-depth introduction to the mechanisms of cell physiology that are common to the organ systems you will be studying. The second is to have you develop a conceptual framework that will enable you to use the factual material to solve real or hypothetical problems. The third is to have you become comfortable with the fact that our current understanding of physiological mechanisms is far from complete; this will hopefully develop in you a healthy skepticism towards all so-called facts presented to you from now on. If these goals are achieved, I'll be happy and you'll learn a lot of physiology.

MEDS 513 Introduction to Clinical Medicine I

Course Description:

The ICM course provides an introduction to patient interviewing techniques and the screening physical examination. Interviews will be conducted with patients at Bozeman Deaconess Hospital. Additional emphasis will be placed on interviews in nursing homes and on the importance of continuity of care. Experience with a video taped interview will be provided. Local physicians and University of Washington visiting faculty will conduct special sessions on professionalism. A view of medical practice in Montana is a major goal.

MEDS 514 Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

Course Description:

Biochemistry is a five credit course in the Fall semester.  The class will meet in 306 Lewis, TWF 9:30-11:30 most weeks.  The course will be taught by Drs. Teintze and Copié plus guest speakers, including University of Washington faculty and local physicians.  The course covers the medically relevant aspects of biochemistry at an advanced level.  Topics include protein and nucleic acid structure/function, molecular biology and genetics, signal transduction, bioenergetics and carbohydrate metabolism, lipid metabolism and nitrogen metabolism.  Clinical correlations will be stressed.  The textbook: Lippincott’s Illustrated Reviews:  Biochemistry, 6th edition, will be used as a reference, particularly for the metabolism part of the course and it is available in the MSU Bookstore. For the molecular biology portions of the course, there is no suitable textbook. Copies of Molecular Biology of the Cell, by Alberts, et al., and Molecular Cell Biology, by Lodish, et al., as well as some Biochemistry textbooks, are available in the student study room. These are good references for looking up more information on a topic, but are too detailed to use as a study guide. Detailed course notes and lecture slides will be available online at:

Tests and Grading: There will be biweekly quizzes and a comprehensive final examination (in which some of the questions will be common to all WWAMI sites).

MEDS 516 Clinical Preceptorship

Course Description:

Students spend one morning or afternoon a week in this course observing the practice of a primary care physician in the Bozeman area. The goal of the course is to demonstrate how physicians relate to patients and how physicians use their basic science and clinical knowledge to solve health care problems. The majority of the time is usually spent in observing hospital rounds and office practice; however, students may also have the opportunity to observe operations, deliveries, and other procedures.

Amid all the basic science taught in the first year, this course helps students understand the purposes of the curriculum and reassures them that they are indeed learning to be physicians.

MEDS 521 Microbiology & Infectious Diseases

Course Description:

As you prepare for a career in medicine, you will, with one major exception, focus on a single species -- Homo sapiens. The major exception is the study of infectious diseases, where you will ponder the interactions of humans and dozens of infectious agents of remarkable diversity which may cause diseases of humans. These agents of disease vary in size from tapeworms, which may be several feet long, down to viruses, which may be as small as 20 nanometers in diameter. They vary in complexity from multi-cellular organisms having eukaryotic cell structure to prions which are structurally simpler than viruses.

Just as there is remarkable diversity among the agents which cause infectious diseases of humans, there is also remarkable diversity in the ways humans and infectious agents interact -- the host-parasite interaction. Infections may be inapparent, trivial, acute, chronic, recurrent, and fatal. In some cases, the host immune and inflammatory responses to the infectious agent are protective and the infection resolves. In other cases, the immune and inflammatory responses contribute to the damage done during the infection.

Many concepts of immunology and pathology (inflammation) are essential to the study of infectious disease, and these concepts are discussed in MEDS 523. In MEDS 521, we will consider the biology of infectious agents with particular regard to those aspects important to health and disease in humans; properties of important pathogenic organisms and their relationship to the pathogenesis, diagnosis and treatment of infectious diseases; and epidemiology, diagnosis, prevention, treatment, and clinical characteristics of important infections. Agents considered include bacteria, fungi, parasites, viruses, and unclassified agents.

MEDS 522 Introduction To Clinical Medicine II

Course Description:

The ICM course continues with patient interviewing techniques, patient medical history, and the screening physical examination. Interviews will be conducted with patients at Bozeman Deaconess Hospital. Additional emphasis will be placed on the importance of continuity of care. Experience with a standardized patient interview will be provided. University of Washington visiting faculty will conduct special sessions in medical ethics and cross-cultural interviewing. A view of medical practice in Montana is a major goal.

MEDS 523 Immunology & Human Diseases

Course Description:

The Immunology course will be given at the beginning of the spring semester, because an understanding of the concepts of immunology is very useful for studying Infectious Diseases (521), course also taught during spring semester.

From its origins in the field of microbiology-infectious diseases, immunology has broadened into a distinct discipline of the biological sciences that has both fundamental and practical importance. For basic scientists, the immune system ranks with the nervous system as a complicated, regulated system of many interacting parts and is a challenge to unravel and understand -- many Nobel prizes in Physiology or Medicine have been awarded to immunologists.

Physicians must know something about the immune system owing to its participation in: 1) the diagnosis, prevention, control, and pathogenesis of infectious diseases; 2) the rejection of transplanted organs and tissues; 3) many hypersensitivity states including anaphylactic shock, asthma, contact dermatitis, and glomerulonephritis; 4) the etiology of autoimmune disease; and 5) iatrogenic (chemotherapy), and acquired (AIDS) immune deficiency diseases of humans as well as immunoproliferative disorders.

In this course you will be introduced to the cells of the immune system -- T cells, B cells, plasma cells, macrophages, mast cells and others. You will study the structure, function, and genetics of the products of these cells including immunoglobulins (antibodies), T cell receptors, lymphokines and cytokines, and the complement system. You will think about how this complex circuitry of cells and molecules is regulated to protect humans from disease and the important consequences of breakdowns of such immune regulation.

It's an active, fascinating field!

MEDS 531 Head & Neck Anatomy

Course Description:

The course is a dissection course that includes all the detailed anatomy of the head and neck plus some related embryology. The brain is removed in this course but studied in the Nervous system course.

KEEP UP! The material in HENT moves at a rapid pace; although the material is usually straightforward, there is a LOT of it. The lab assistant will do some of the tedious parts of the dissection for you -- but there will be many hours of dissection left for you. For many people, the dissection lab is more difficult than the fall course because many of the structures are small and hard to isolate; also difficult are the many complex parts of the autonomic nervous system in this region and of course mastering a complete understanding of cranial nerves takes time. Therefore, it is important to prepare for lab by reading the relevant parts of the text and identifying key structures in your atlas beforehand. If you make this effort for each class, you'll learn more and retain the information longer.

Moore's Clinically Oriented Anatomy is the recommended text along with Gilroy or Netter atlas. If you are using another text and/or atlas and are satisfied with it, you may use it for this course as well.

MEDS 532 Nervous System

Course Description:

This course is similar to the ones given in the second year in that it is organized around an organ system rather than a discipline in medical science. Much of the time is devoted to neuroanatomy, but the functions of the various parts of the central and peripheral nervous system receive just as much emphasis as the structure. The course builds upon what you know about cellular neurophysiology (MedS 512) and provides the foundation for the study of neurology during the clinical years. You will learn why strokes cause the symptoms and signs that they do. You will learn much about disorders of vision, hearing and other senses. Much of what you learn will help you understand the components of the neurological examination that you are learning in physical diagnosis.

There are lectures and laboratories. During the laboratories you will have the opportunity to dissect a human brain and to examine microfiche illustrations of the nervous system. In addition, students will learn neuroanatomy with the use of a CD-ROM brain atlas program. The course also includes a section on neuropathology and numerous opportunities for clinical correlation.

The amount of information seems overwhelming, especially at the beginning of the course; however, you will return to many of the important concepts again and again during the course. You will be amazed at how much you can learn about the brain with only a brain to work with.

MEDS 533 Systems of Human Behavior

Course Description:

As noted in the Foreword for the required text for this course, in a 2004 report the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences discussed the importance of improving medical education with respect to behavioral and social sciences curricular content, stating that, “Approximately half of all causes of morbidity and mortality in the United States are linked to behavioral and social factors.” Recommendations by the IOM were that medical students should demonstrate competence in domains including: mind-body interactions in health and disease; patient behavior; physician role and behavior; physician-patient interactions; social and cultural issues in health care; and health policy and economics. In great part, MEDS 533 Systems of Human Behavior is designed to enhance your knowledge base in these domains and to be able to appreciate and utilize knowledge of psychosocial factors in diagnosing and treating disease and illness in your future as a physician.

The structure of this course is conceptual, leading you from the “micro to the macro” in behavioral medicine. That is, topics progress from: biological mediators of behavior in medical practice (e.g., genetics, brain physiology & function) [Unit One]; to human life-cycle development as relevant to behavioral medicine [Unit Two]; to principles of patient behavior and individual-environment interactions (e.g., learning, motivation for behavior change) [Unit Three]; to mind-body interactions in behavioral medicine, with a focus on relevant and exemplary disorders and experiences (e.g., stress & illness, chronic pain, placebo effects) [Unit Four]; to issues in addressing psychopathology in primary care, including psychopharmacological treatments [Unit Five]; to sociocultural and healthcare system determinants in health and wellness (e.g., ethnocultural origin, language, U.S. healthcare system) [Unit Six]; to physician-patient encounters/interactions (e.g., taking a psychosocial history, treating challenging patients) [Unit Seven]; and to a potpourri of societal health topics and challenges (e.g., obesity, domestic violence, rural healthcare) [Unit Eight]. In Unit Nine, we will apply your growing psychosocial knowledge to yourselves, addressing psychological wellness of medical students and physicians, as well as self-awareness and self-discovery of being a “biopsychosocial” person, as well as professional, yourself.

The course will include lectures by Dr. Cory and guest lectures by a host of excellent professionals involved in research and clinical areas relevant to our topics, as well as by interactive class discussions of the these topics as well as of assigned readings, primarily from the above referenced textbook but also a few other assigned articles, as determined. You will also benefit from teaching and learning from one another in the form of a small-group project researching and later presenting [during Unit Eight] on a health topic from the “biopsychosocial model” perspective. Your enthusiasm collectively makes this course a pleasure to teach, and both enjoyable and valuable to you as a student and future physician! Feedback will always be welcome, with a goal of making this course be all you need it to be as such an integral part of your medical education.

MEDS 551 Musculoskeletal Anatomy

Course Description:

This course is designed to teach detailed medical musculoskeletal anatomy of the human back and extremeties using laboratory dissections coupled with lecture presentations. The material will include numerous correlations with clinical application of the knowledge in the practice of medicine, as well as the anatomy revealed in common imaging techniques like X-rays and CAT scans.

Performance is evaluated in bi-weekly quizzes that include both lecture and lab material, and a comprehensive final exam common to all WWAMI sites. The quizzes include tag or "show me" examinations in the laboratory, and written quizzes use short answer questions, some involving drawings or relationships.

MEDS 591 Medical Information and Decision Making

Course Description:

This course is an introduction to methods for identifying and retrieving Web-based high-quality, relevant evidence, and to methods for describing and applying rigorous criteria when reading primary research studies or reviews of primary studies that report on the effectiveness of therapeutic or preventive interventions.