Second Year


Second-year students at Duke rotate through eight core clinical clerkships, including both inpatient and outpatient care. Schedules are randomly generated, though students requiring a specific schedule due to particular dual-degree requirements (e.g. MBA/MD) are able to work with faculty coordinators to ensure they can begin their classes on time. All students are able to swap up to one clerkship with another student. 

All required clerkships and selectives are completed predominantly on the wards and in the clinics of Duke University Hospital (DUH), Duke Regional Hospital (DRH), and the Durham Veterans Administration (Durham VA). Some clerkships, such as Family Medicine or Psychiatry, may also send students to approved non-Duke partner sites. 

Required Clerkships

  • Medicine (8 weeks) 

  • Surgery (8 weeks) 

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology (6 weeks) 

  • Pediatrics (6 weeks) 

  • Psychiatry (4 weeks) 

  • Neurology (4 weeks) 

  • Family Medicine (4 weeks) 

  • Radiology (4 weeks) 

All required clerkships are graded using the Honors/High Pass/Pass/Fail system. Each clerkship has didactic sessions to complement clinical learning. With the exception of Radiology, all required clinical clerkships end with NBME Shelf Exams, giving students plenty of practice for the Step 2 Clinical Knowledge board exam taken before graduation, usually during their third or fourth year.


During your Ob/Gyn and Pediatric rotations, you will have the option of choosing a selective from the list below. A selective is a 2-week clinical rotation of your choosing that is Pass/Fail. The purpose of selectives is to provide students with exposure to clinical fields that are not included in the traditional clerkship experience. The list below is provided to give you a sense of the variety that is offered. The list is subject to change from year to year. 

  • Clinical Anesthesia 

  • Pain Management

  • Intro to Dermatology

  • A Taste of Palliative Care

  • Gastroenterology

  • Intro to Endocrinology

  • Intro to Consultative Cardiology

  • Adult Nephrology​

  • Intro to Infectious Diseases

  • Intro to Rheumatology

  • Interventional Pulmonology

  • Neurocritical Care

  • Neurosurgical Intervention

  • Prenatal Diagnosis

  • Ophthalmology

  • Ortho Surgery Experience

  • Surgical Treatment of Diseases of the Head and Neck, Ears, Nose, and Throat

  • What Does a Pathologist Really Do?

  • Clinical Genetics & Metabolism

  • Child Abuse & Family Violence

  • Overview of Pediatric Hematology - Oncology

  • Developmental Care of Sick Newborns - A Multidisciplinary Approach

  • Pediatric Neurology

  • Adolescent Medicine

  • Pediatric Gastroenterology

  • Pediatric Congenital Cardiology

  • Clinical Intro to Child Psychiatry

  • Geriatric Psychiatry

  • Vascular & Interventional Radiology

  • Clinical Radiation/Oncology

  • From Cosmesis to Reconstruction, From Infants to the Elderly

  • Surgical Critical Care

  • Modern General Thoracic Surgery

  • Modern Cardiac Surgery

  • Urology

  • Emergency Medicine

  • Trauma & Acute Care Surgery

  • Essentials of Pediatric Surgery

  • Intro to Endocrine Surgery

Additional Curricular Elements

Clinical Skills Intensive (CSI) 

CSI is a three-week block of concentrated teaching designed to introduce incoming MS2 students to information that will help them succeed on the wards and is immediately relevant to clinical care. This is held during the first three weeks of the second year prior to the start of students’ first clerkships. CSI includes didactic teaching on key topics (e.g. how to interpret labs), procedure training, physical exam sessions, practice H&P and SOAP notes, and small group discussions. 

Cultural Determinants of Health and Health Disparities 2 (CDHD 2)

CDHD 2 serves to build on the introduction to health disparities in the first-year course CDHD 1, expanding to include clerkship-specific explorations into relevant material. CDHD 2 meets once per eight-week block (e.g. once for Surgery and once for Neurology/Psychiatry). Topics include strategies to improve patient care, peer-to-peer interactions, and professionalism, and how to recognize and mitigate bias. 

Clinical Skills Foundation 2 (CSF 2)

CSF 2 is a continuation of CSF 1, the first-year course aimed at teaching students important clinical skills such as the physical exam, how to interview patients, and much more. In CSF 2, a wide range of more advanced topics are incorporated, including how to share bad news, the importance of empathy in healthcare, and spirituality and religion in medicine. Students delve into these topics through small group discussions, didactic sessions, and practice with standardized patient actors – allowing them to get immediate feedback from the patient actor, their peers, and faculty preceptor. This course meets periodically throughout the second year in rotation with CSC. Students remain with the same small group they had in CSF 1 to maintain the comfortable community built during first year, and each CSF 2 small group has a faculty preceptor and an upperclassman student leader to provide the student perspective and advice.

Clinical Skills Course (CSC) 

CSC is a course designed to complement clinical knowledge from the students’ experiences on the wards. We discuss topics that relate to patient care such as interpreting lab values, statistics, and epidemiology. During this course, students work in small groups of approximately eight students with a faculty preceptor and upperclassman student leader to complete cases and problem sets that are then discussed as a class. This course meets periodically throughout the second year in rotation with CSF 2.