UMass Chan Medical School-Baystate PURCH Courses

PURCH Coursework

VISTA Curriculum

New PURCH students will participate in the UMass Chan Medical School VISTA core curriculum.

The VISTA curriculum breaks the traditional 2 + 2 model of medical education and instead organizes your four years of medical school into three phases: Discovery, Exploration, and Horizons. Vista at a Glance (pdf)

> PURCH: How We Are Different

What Courses Do I Take at Which Campus?

  Discovery Exploration Horizons
Baystate Campus in Springfield, MA Early Clinical Learning Experiences

Physical Diagnosis

Longitudinal Preceptor Program

Hospital Sessions

Multidisciplinary Rounds

Ultrasound Training
Core Clinical Experiences

Internal Medicine
Family Medicine

Flexible Professional Experiences
Emergency Clinical Problem Solver

Advanced Biomedical and Translational Sciences

Acting Internship (except Family Medicine)
Main Campus in Worcester, MA All Discovery Courses, except Early Clinical Learning Experiences

Comprehensive Core Clinical Assessment

Flexible Professional Experiences
Acting Internship in Family Medicine


Grading and Assessment

PURCH students will be evaluated using the same metrics and grading scales as the non-PURCH track students. You will also need to successfully complete any additional sessions and/or activities that may be required for the PURCH Track.

The Vista Curriculum in PURCH

Discovery Phase

Early Clinical Learning Experiences (ECL)

During the 18-month Discovery Phase, you'll have several early clinical learning educational sessions on Wednesdays at the Baystate campus. The ECL education components are: Small Group Sessions, Physical Diagnosis, Longitudinal Preceptor Program, Hospital Sessions, Multidisciplinary Rounds, and Ultrasound Training.


You will develop a strong foundation in the Discovery Phase as you begin to form your professional identity as a physician. Through this mentored, skills-based curriculum you will integrate the 5 PURCH principles into your identity as a student, a citizen, and a physician.

These sessions are taught by Baystate Community Faculty, core clinical and non-clinical faculty from Baystate Health, and Brightwood Learning Community Mentors. Content covered in these sessions includes: the reflective practice, the medical interview, teamwork, advocacy, clinical reasoning, and oral presentations. You will also interact with patients, cultivating the skills to interview, examine, diagnose, treat, and educate them about their medical conditions and treatment recommendations. The impact of social determinants of health, social history, community influences, and resources on disease processes—with a focus on medically underserved communities—is emphasized in this course.


You will work with your Learning Community Mentors to develop expertise in the physical examination and acquire skills to maintain efficiency, respect, and trust. This includes the integration of trauma-informed physical exam concepts which incorporate specific language and behaviors that aim to enhance patients' sense of safety, autonomy, and trust.


You will be paired with a faculty physician preceptor in the beginning weeks of medical school, and will work with that same provider for 18 months as you practice the skills you learned in Small Group Sessions and Physical Diagnosis under direct supervision.


You will build on the interview and physical examination skills learned through a series of observed hospital-based patient interview experiences at Baystate Medical Center. You also learn and practice the oral presentations and documentation.


Working with nursing and pharmacy students you will come to understand the value of the interprofessional team. You will work through cases in small groups, practicing team-based patient-centered care. You will learn how to identify roles and responsibilities while embracing the PURCH principle of “ leaders who can be led”.


You will run simulation cases and learn hands-on skills in point-of-care ultrasonography using standardized patients and models.

Summer Community Health Assistantship (SCHA)

UMass Chan Medical School's optional Summer Community Health Assistantship offers students the opportunity to work in a wide variety of community-based health, education, and human service organizations during the summer months.

Exploration Phase

Core Clinical Experiences

During the exploration phase, you will participate in a variety of flexible professional experiences . There is a diverse offering of pre-designed experiences or you also have the option of creating your own week-long experience. These experiences can be clinical or non-clinical (e.g. education, community service) and provide the opportunity to form mentorships, cultivate and develop interest in the specialty, gain intrinsic motivation for further learning in chosen fields, and explore potential career paths.

"I really appreciated how the PURCH track fostered the relationship between students and their community in western Massachusetts. With two full years to get to know the Springfield area, students can become active members of their community and feel empowered to participate in community advocacy projects. And by rotating through various specialties in their third and fourth years at Baystate, students have the opportunity to see the same patients across disciplines. They also get a view of the healthcare system from multiple perspectives."
.—Nathan Taber, Class of 2023


Clerkships in PURCH are organized in four 12-week blocks just as they are on the UMass Chan Medical School main campus:

  • Pediatrics and OB/GYN
  • Surgery and Radiology (1 week)
  • Psychiatry and Neurology
  • Internal Medicine

In addition, the Family Medicine Clerkship occurs longitudinally throughout all 4 blocks. You will have 1-2 week Family Medicine outpatient experiences per block.

Core Clinical Clerkship Clerkship Structure Clerkship Director
Pediatrics 4 weeks inpatient
1 week ambulatory
Christine Marrese, MD
Jenny Horowitz, MD
OB/GYN 4 weeks inpatient
1 week ambulatory
Elizabeth Morgen, MD
Surgery 8 weeks inpatient
1 week ambulatory
Gladys Fernandez, MD
Radiology 1 week
Psychiatry 4 weeks inpatient
1 week ambulatory
Sonia Riyaz, MD
Neurology 4 weeks inpatient
1 week ambulatory
Sharjeel Panjwani, MD
Internal Medicine 8 weeks inpatient
1 week ambulatory
Raquel Belforti, DO, MEd
Family Medicine 5 weeks outpatient over the course of 48 weeks
Katherine Gerstle, MD

The core UMass Chan Medical School curriculum content, grading requirements, and testing are the same as for non-PURCH students.

Population & Community Health Clerkship (PCHC)

PCHC provides you with a meaningful 2-week, community-engaged experience in western Massachusetts to complement your preclinical coursework.

This is an immersive experience—you will partner with a community-based organization that provides services in communities within Baystate Health’s primary catchment areas—Franklin, Hampshire, and Hampden counties.

It is also an interprofessional experience—learners from other disciplines may be on your team.

To provide a meaningful longitudinal community-based experience, community partners are identified who can expand upon topics covered in the Discovery Phase. Examples may include: food insecurity, transportation justice, and veteran’s health and housing.

PCHC explores public health concepts such as, the effects of social determinants on the health of the population served by your community organization, how to examine populations as units of care, and how you might apply knowledge and understanding of community resources to advocate for your population of focus.

Embedded in a community organization, you will gain an understanding of how different health professionals and other local advocates work separately, and collaboratively, within their communities.

As part of your PCHC field experience you will work with a community faculty preceptor and an academic faculty preceptor to:

  • Collect, synthesize, and manipulate relevant population-level data
  • Identify interprofessional teams of care available to a population
  • Explore ways organizations can advocate for a population
  • Apply your knowledge toward a meaningful service project in the community

Throughout the two weeks you will reflect on your experiences and encounters with community members, advocates, and other organizations or care systems that you collaborate with.

At the end of the PCHC, you will present to UMass Chan-Baystate faculty, Baystate Health leadership, and community stakeholders, with the goal of recommending actionable strategies to advocate for your population of focus.

Flexible Professional Experiences

During the exploration phase, you will participate in a variety of flexible professional experiences . There is a diverse offering of pre-designed experiences or you also have the option of creating your own week-long experience. These experiences can be clinical or non-clinical (e.g. education, community service) and provide the opportunity to form mentorships, cultivate and develop interest in the specialty, gain intrinsic motivation for further learning in chosen fields, and explore potential career paths.

PURCH Interstitials

The PURCH-specific interstitial curriculum is based at the Baystate campus in collaboration with community partners. This curriculum for for all PURCH MS 3 students and takes place on selected Wednesdays 3:30-5pm.

Previous topics have included:

  • Culture of Safety
  • Care of LGBTQ+ Patients
  • Spirituality
  • Caring for Patients with Substance Use Disorder
  • Palliative and Hospice Care
  • Trauma Informed Care
  • Nutrition for the Hospitalized Patient
Horizons Phase

Horizons Phase Required Coursework

An Approved Acting Internship

You are required to complete your Acting Internships in Internal Medicine, Pediatrics and Surgery at UMass Chan-Baystate. The Family Medicine Acting Internship is completed at the Main Campus in Worcester.

Emergency Clinical Problem Solver (ECPS)

You are required to complete your ECPS course at UMass Chan-Baystate.

Information about ECPS on the UMass Chan website.

Critical Care Selective 

One Month Experience in Critical Care

Pathway Elective

One month to engage in with a pathway venture community partnership and work on scholarly activity


While you may choose to do electives on any campus, the advantage of completing them at UMass Chan-Baystate is that many PURCH-specific options are offered here. Some recent examples include:

  • Urban Community Health
  • AHEC/PURCH Rural Health Elective
  • Care of the Underserved
  • PURCH Preventive Care: Design Your Own Mobile Health Clinic as a Model for Underserved Communities
  • Medical Education and Leadership Elective

You also have the opportunity to design your own elective based on your interests.

> Complete list of Baystate electives.

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