Tools for Diagnosis and Therapy


Introduction: As you know, much of the second year curriculum is organized in an integrated manner based on organ systems. Although this is a logical approach to teaching human pathophysiology, all things need an introduction, a beginning. That is the purpose of this block. The overall theme of the block is to begin to introduce you to diagnostic tools and how such tools are evaluated. The tools discussed will include clinical epidemiology, geriatrics, pathology and laboratory medicine, and radiology. Introductory material from the clinical epidemiology course will explain how diagnostic information is evaluated and integrated into patient care. Geriatrics will be introduced to emphasize that medicine is patient oriented. Different groups of patients (based on age, cultural background, and other variables) may well require a specialized approach which is concerned with the patient as a person in a particular cultural setting. Of course these issues will be “threaded” through all of the subsequent blocks. We hope to provide background and introductions. Because of the nature of this introductory material, it will not be as “integrated” as many of the other “organ blocks” you will experience during the year. To demonstrate how this information is integrated into a paradigm of patient care we have included two cases based on geriatric patients (designed by Dr. Kizer).. The cases will allow you to integrate and apply what you have learned. We have chosen to use geriatric cases to emphasize the “patient specific” nature of quality medical care and also to emphasize the growing importance of this sector of our population to the physician.

Objectives and Goals

Organization: The course will contain formal lectures, laboratories and small group learning experiences. Attendance is required in all sessions and exercises will be included in all pathology laboratories to be handed in for grading during the session (see below). There are also required readings which are available on-line. Because the venue for teaching and sessions times will change for different parts of the course, please be attentive to the schedule we have included. (We hope your instructors will be equally attentive!) Although we attempt to be an integrated block, clinical epidemiology will also continue later in the year. Because clinical epidemiology must teach a specific set of tools necessary for later work there are special aspects to this part of Block 1. We have included a separate section for details on this part of the block.

Clinical Epidemiology Component, Tools for Diagnosis and Therapy


There are three sessions in the Tools course devoted to content from Clinical Epidemiology. Classes will be in the seminar rooms to which students are assigned for the Clinical Epidemiology component of the Tools course.

All of the sessions in the Clinical Epidemiology component of the Tools course include material related to diagnostic testing and screening. In the Clinical Epidemiology course in the spring semester, we teach students how to evaluate the validity, importance and applicability to their patients of clinical research articles.


By the end of the course, students will be able to select diagnostic tests using rational principles, and interpret the meaning of diagnostic test results in the context of the patient’s overall clinical picture. In addition, students will be able to evaluate, based on key principles, whether specific screening tests should be used. There are specific learning objectives for each seminar and those objectives are listed in the syllabus.