A medical school is any institution of education in medicine. In the United States, and in most other countries, a medical school confers the degree of Doctor of Medicine (abbreviated MD for the Latin name Medicinae Doctor) at the end of a four-year course of training. But some medical schools confer the rival degree of Doctor of Osteopathy, abbreviated DO.
The typical four-year course leading to the medical degree divides its years as follows:
- The Basic Sciences. These include anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, and cell biology. This last is often called microanatomy, to distinguish it from the "gross anato" of the human body.
- The Clinical Sciences. These include pharmacology, immunology, and other courses that treat the various disciplines of medicine strictly in the classroom or in specially equipped laboratories.
- Clinical Clerkships. A clinical clerk is a junior medical student assigned as the most junior member of a clinical team in a hospital. The most common core clinical clerkships are in internal medicine, surgery, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, and psychiatry. In addition, most medical schools require their students to take any of several eligible clerkships, or "selectives," in pathology.
- Externships. An extern is a senior-level medical student who also might be assigned to a clinical team in a hospital. An extern will carry responsibilities higher than those of a clinical clerk but less than those of a resident. The name extern distinguishes the student from an intern, who today is a first-year resident.
All medical schools run residency programs. A resident is any recent graduate of medical school undergoing specialized training to prepare him for practice in a particular discipline of medicine.