Highlights of our center:

   Problem-based learning

   Accessible, dedicated faculty

   Half-day schedule (most of the time)

   Early patient contact

   Small class size


The Northwest-Gary Campus of IUSM is located in Gary, Indiana, just off I80/94. Housed in the Medical Arts Building, our new facilities include a student lounge, state-of-the-art anatomy lab, classrooms, tutorial rooms, individual study rooms, and a computer lab with video conference capabilities. Twenty-four hour access provides student study space whenever they need it.

The Northwest-Gary Campus is unique in that our curriculum is developed around problem-based learning. If you like the television show House, you are going to enjoy this...

Our Problem-Based Learning Sessions, which we refer to as “Case,” are held three times a week. In groups of 5-8 people, we discuss the diagnosis and treatment of a patient's disease in a paper case. Although a case tutor (faculty member) is present in each group, all discussions are lead by students. On the first day of Case, we are introduced to our patient. Additionally, students are provided with the chief complaint, the history of the present illness, a medical history, and a physical exam. When the case includes information (basic science, diseases, lab tests, etc.) that students are unfamiliar with, the material is referred to as a “learning issue”. Every student is responsible to independently research all learning issues before the next case session.

On the second day of case, students return to their small group to discuss the learning issues from the last meeting and clarify any remaining confusion among the group. Students are then presented with new developments, symptoms, and lab results. We continue to identify learning issues, formulate hypotheses, and discuss the relevant basic sciences. On the final day of case, we confirm the diagnosis and learn of our patient’s prognosis. We also review the case objectives, discuss them, and take a short quiz. (The quizzes usually count for 5% of the course grade, but this can vary depending on the Step). Overall, the purpose of case is to encourage self-directed learning and to provide students the opportunity to integrate basic science content and apply it to real-life clinical scenarios. 

At the Northwest-Gary campus, we are finished with classes by noon at least three days a week, freeing up our afternoons and evenings for studying. Additionally, our professors are available for tutoring in the afternoons and at our request. We often schedule lab and general review sessions with our professors before tests, and they are always willing to oblige.

We begin seeing patients during the first weeks of medical school. Each student is assigned to a primary care physician preceptor and spends one afternoon a week observing the doctor and interacting with real-life patients. In addition, each student is assigned to a chronically ill patient with whom they meet with once a month. Students then give a presentation about their patient's chronic illness at the end of the first year. This Chronic Patient Program is one of a kind and provides students with a unique opportunity to see what it is like to care for chronically ill patients early on in their medical careers.

How to survive your first year at the Northwest-Gary campus:

1.  Make friends with the second years right away. They will be your best reference and can answer ALL your questions. Food bribes accepted.

2.  Class notes for the midterms. Board Review Series books for standardized shelves/National Board of Medical Education (NBME) finals.

3.  Participate in Case, it is 20 -30% of your final grade.

4.  Purchase FIRSTAID for USMLE Step 1 at the beginning of the year and take notes in it for every class—this will be handy for boards 2nd year and in general for concise final reviews each step.

5.  Keep up with the class—don’t get more than two or three days behind in work, especially in pharm and anatomy.




Before going into detail on individual classes, here is some general information you should know:

The midterm exams are written by our professors and the final exams are standardized “shelf” exams written by the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME).

Board Review Series (BRS) and Pretest are two review book series that are good review for final (NBME) exams. Pretest is essentially all practice questions, whereas the BRS series are concise review books for each subject, with a few questions at the end of every chapter.

The Molecular Basis of Medicine (6 weeks)

STEP 1 deals with biochemistry and molecular biology as they apply to medicine.

Textbooks: Lippincott’s Biochemistry, Marks Basic Medical Biochemistry, BRS Biochemistry, BRS Cell Biology/Histology

Advice: Most students purchase Lippincott or Marks. Marks covers some material that is not in Lippincott’s, but either book will get you through Step 1—which one you choose depends on whether you prefer a concise text (Lippincott) or a more in-depth explanation (Marks). Lippincott’s is about an inch thinner, but Mark's reads like a storybook. The lecture notes should be a primary source for the midterm exam. The BRS books are great review for shelf final exams. BRS Histology/Cell Biology includes cell biology topics that are not covered in any of the books above. It is important to read the cell biology chapters (Chapters 1-3) before the shelf exams because one of the tests covers cell biology.


Human Structure (12 weeks)

The goal of STEP 2 is to familiarize the student with the structures of the human body from gross to subcellular. This step integrates cell biology, histology, gross anatomy, embryology, and radiology. This course especially relies on self-motivation, therefore autonomous study sessions with classmates (especially for the Histology portion) and/or replacement of class lectures (for the Gross Anatomy portion) with Indy lectures is highly recommended.

Textbooks:  Histology class notes: Wheater’s Functional Histology A Text and Color Atlas, BRS Cell Biology/Histology, Color Textbook of Histology (Gartner & Hiatt), Clinically Oriented Anatomy (Moore), Netter’s Atlas of Human Anatomy, Rohen’s Color Anatomy Atlas, Netter Flash Cards, BRS Gross Anatomy, High Yield Anatomy, High Yield Embryology

Advice: For histology, the class notes will be one of your primary sources. It’s recommended that you print these out ahead of time or bum a copy off of a 2nd year. An additional histology book is not absolutely necessary, but many students used Wheater’s or Gartner, both of which have lots of pictures that are helpful when learning to identify tissues. For anatomy, the majority of students bought Mark’s Clinical Anatomy (for reference) and an atlas (either Rohen and Netter). Rohen’s is a photographic atlas that uses real cadavers. It is a great way to prepare for lab exams. Netter’s on the other hand, is a great first look at anatomical structures—it shows you how things “should” look. Some students bought both atlases, but either one is sufficient to get through Step 2. Netter Flash Cards are an extremely helpful study tool and the many students found them helpful. They provide direction by illustrating the most relevant features that you need to know; whereas, the Netter book will show many more details. BRS Gross Anatomy is not as helpful as some of the other BRS books. Some students found High Yield Anatomy to be a helpful review for the final. High Yield Embryology is a highly recommended for review before the final exam.

Systemic Function (6 weeks)

STEP 3 builds on the information learned in the first two steps. It utilizes the problem solving skills and scientific knowledge thus far acquired. This step uses the organ system approach.

Textbooks: Physiology class notes, Costanzo’s Physiology, BRS Physiology

Advice: Midterm material comes directly from lecture notes. Costanzo is a great textbook, concise and thorough—a favorite among students. BRS Physiology is a great review, also written by Costanzo and a strong abridged version of the textbook. Many students used Pretest-Physiology to review for the final exam.

Neural Control and Disease (6 weeks)

In STEP 4, students will study the central nervous system through the assimilation of anatomical, physiological, and chemical information. The focus will be on the basic principles of neurological disorders and neurological examination.

Textbooks: Class notes, Neuroanatomy Through Clinical Cases (Blumenfeld), High Yield Neuroanatomy, Haines’ Neuroanatomy Atlas

Advice: Dr. Marfurt’s notes are extraordinarily excellent and thorough. They will be your primary source throughout the step. (Once again, It is highly recommended that you have your rep mass print them at Kinkos ahead of time). The Blumenfeld text is not a necessary resource, but very helpful for additional information. Also has great pictures and is helpful for PBL. Haines’ Neuroanatomy Atlas is helpful for lab and contains great pictures and diagrams for mapping out pathways. The majority of students purchase this book for lab. High Yield Neuroanatomy is a good review book for the final. Some students occasionally referred to Nolte’s The Human Brain, and BRS Neuroanatomy. Many students also used Pretest-Neuroanatomy for the final review.

Medicines and Disease (6 weeks)

STEP 5 is an intensive and systemic study of the drugs used in diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of human diseases. Although you will not have had a Microbiology course, anti-microbials including anti-fungals, bacterials, and virals will be included on the final exam. But don’t worry, most of the information tested on these portions has less to do with the pathology of microbes and more to do with pertinent interactions and side-effects of drugs.

Textbooks: Lecture notes, Lippincott’s Pharm Cards, Katzung and Trevor's Review of Pharmacology, Lippincott’s Pharmacology, all of the Pharmacology & some of the Microbiology sections in FIRSTAID.

Advice: The lecture notes will be a primary resource for the midterm. The pharmcards get mixed reviews from students, but are generally a good way to review the drugs and quiz yourself. They have a lot of information on them, so try not to get overwhelmed. Many students bought Katzung and Trevor’s review book. It is a helpful resource to help clarify concepts from the class notes. It also has questions at the end of each chapter. The microbiology section of FirstAid will be extremely helpful for learning antimicrobials.  

Behavioral Science

The behavioral science curriculum deals with a systemic introduction to human development involving learning, conditioning, and perception.  Similar to a traditional psychology course, this course deals with the clinical approach to somatic behavioral disease and subsequent pharmacological intervention.

Medical Ethics

Medical Ethics consists of a series of seminars devoted to discussion of various topics including, patient autonomy, disclosure, confidentiality, informed consent, and death and dying.


History Taking and Physical Diagnosis

This course consists of weekly lectures and practice sessions with standardized patients seen in the clinical learning center on campus and with patients seen at the practice of the student’s preceptor. Students become familiarized with standard Hx/P format and CERTT forms. The preceptors and course instructors critique and evaluate the student’s write-ups and provide feedback so improvement can be made on their history taking skills. Standardized patients at the H&P Learning Center do the final evaluation.

Physical Diagnosis continues this instruction in the second semester. This portion of the curriculum consists of weekly lectures on each component of the complete physical exam and practice on standardized patients. Students will learn how to properly perform a head-to-toe physical examination and to record the information gained from the exam in a write-up. Standardized patients evaluate the student at the end of the term.

Where to study

   The Center (24 hour access)

   Your apartment

   Crown Point Library



   Spill the Beans


Where to buy books

   IUN bookstore-stocks the books that the professors “suggest” for class, but they are a bit over-priced -searches bookstores to find the best used price 

   2nd year students


635 N Barnhill Dr | Indianapolis, IN 46202 | Ph: (317) 274-1965 | Fax: (317) 274-4309