Medical School Information Page for

Medical School Performance Evaluation (MSPE)

Unique Characteristics of the Educational Program:

Advising--COM Learning Communities: Our medical school classes are divided into smaller cohorts that have community-established identities. Each community is made up of students from each of the four classes and is facilitated by a team of faculty and professionals.

The Rural Medical Scholars Program (RMSP): The Rural Medical Scholars Program is a multi-departmental program organized and coordinated through the Department of Family Medicine. Its purpose is to enhance the educational experience of students who may wish to practice in a rural or small town community. The RMSP seeks qualified applicants with an interest in rural health, provides special training and support in the preclinical years, and includes training in a rural community in the clinical years.

MD/PhD Program: Upstate Medical University’s MD/PhD Program is designed for individuals interested in pursuing a career as physician-scientists in academic medicine. During the students first two years of training they complete courses in the College of Medicine. They then advance into the laboratory where they spend three to four years completing additional coursework and dissertation research under the auspices of one of the faculty members in College of Graduate Studies. The time in the laboratory culminates with the defense of the doctoral dissertation, after which students re-enter the College of Medicine to complete their training in the various clinical clerkships. The total time spent in the program should be no more than eight years. Throughout the training students will also participate in MD/PhD specific coursework and activities.

MD/MPH Program: A joint degree program in which a student interested in both medicine and public health can obtain both degrees in five years. Recognizing the impact that public health issues have on patient health and healthcare, this joint degree is designed to train medical students to be effective physicians using both patient-based medical education coupled with population-based public health training. All students in the MD/MPH program must meet the same graduation requirements as traditional MPH students.

Average Length of Enrollment of Students in this Graduating Class: 4 years

Compliance with AAMC Guidelines for Medical Schools Regarding Academic Transcripts: The College of Medicine at Upstate Medical University is in compliance with the guidelines.

Description of Evaluation System: 

Years 1 & 2:  Beginning in academic year 2013/14, all required courses and electives taken in the first two years of medical school are graded pass/fail:

  • Pass (P) - Successful completion of all requirements for the course.
  • Credit (CR) - The CR grade is assigned whenever credit is awarded for work completed at another institution or another college within the Upstate Medical University. 
  • Fail (F) - Failure to meet all the requirements of the course successfully.
  • Conditional (CO) - A failure requiring specific remedial work for part of the course requirements that was not successfully completed in a first attempt. Standards for remediation attempts for a conditional grade should not vary from original requirements.
  • Incomplete (I) - The requirements of a course have not been completed.
  • Withdrawal (W) - Withdrawal from a course prior to the completion of 50% of the allotted time for the course.
  • Withdrawal/Passing (WP) - Withdrawal while passing from a required course after 50% completion.
  • Withdrawal/Failing (WF) - Withdrawal while failing from a course after 50% completion or not officially withdrawing from a course. The "WF" is considered an academic deficiency and is subject to review under the rules of promotion and graduation.
  • Fail (Academic Dishonesty) (XF) - Student was found guilty of academic dishonesty by judicial process.

Clinical Years: In addition to the grades above, in the clinical years the grading system evaluates a student's academic performance relative to their peers;

  • Honors (H) - Outstanding performance in the subject area, far exceeding the requirements of the course, limited to the top 10-20% of students.
  • High Pass (HP) - For performance significantly above expectations, up to the top 40% of students, but not qualifying for honors.

Note: Honors and High Pass grades will total no more than 40% of the class.

  • Commendation - Commendation may be awarded to students for outstanding performance in the required clerkships. To qualify, a student must earn at least 24 credits of honor in any of the required clerkship courses and have no deficient grades in the required clerkships. Regardless of the number of credits of honors earned, a student may not be commended if the transcript records any violations of the Student Code of Conduct or if there have been concerns about unprofessional behavior. A student who earns Commendation will receive a letter from the Dean of the College of Medicine and a permanent notation will be recorded on the academic transcript.

GATEWAY Exam:
All students are required to pass an Upstate Medical University administered Gateway examination at the end of the first year of medical school for promotion to the second year. The Upstate Gateway examination is a comprehensive examination of the integrated content of the first year curriculum. Scores on the Upstate Gateway examination are not factored into academic standing.

USMLE Requirements: 

Step 1 
Upstate Medical University requires that all students pass USMLE Step 1 before entering the clinical years. Students are allowed up to three attempts within one year of completing the basic science curriculum to pass USMLE Step 1. 

Step 2 Clinical Knowledge and Clinical Skills
Upstate Medical University requires that all students pass both USMLE Step 2 Clinical Knowledge and USMLE Step 2 Clinical Skills examinations to graduate. Students must sit for both exams by December 1st of their fourth year. Students are allowed up to three attempts and one year from the original December 1st deadline to pass both the USMLE Step 2 Clinical Knowledge and USMLE Step 2 Clinical Skills examinations.

Objective Structured Clinical Evaluations (OSCE): 
All students are required to pass an Upstate Medical University administered comprehensive OSCE at the beginning of the fourth year of medical school to assess the core clinical skills of communication, data collection (history and physical exam), and clinical reasoning (differential diagnosis, diagnostic therapeutic plan). In addition, most core clerkships require passing a subject specific OSCE as part of the overall evaluation of the medical student performance and to pass the clerkship.

Use of Narrative Comments with Grades and in MSPE’s: 
Students are evaluated through examinations, both oral and written, and by direct observations in laboratories, discussion groups, and in the clinical setting. Summative evaluation results in a grade for each course, and may also include a narrative evaluation of the student. All of the clinical clerkship grades are accompanied by a narrative. Basic science courses may include a narrative if the amount of personal contact between the faculty and student allows knowledgeable assessment of performance that is not otherwise captured by the course grade. Grades and clinical narratives are printed, verbatim in the MSPE.

MSPE Composition and Student Review: 
The MSPE for each student is comprised of all objective and subjective formal evaluations during medical school. Other information is provided by the student regarding their co-curricular and research experiences. The MSPE process is facilitated by the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs and MSPE writers include members of the Dean’s staff. Students are permitted, and encouraged, to review the MSPE prior to transmission.