Curricular integration represents collaborations between disciplines to establish a coherent curriculum and has become the dominant recommendation for medical education in the second half of the twentieth century. Vertical integration specifically is the integration between the clinical and basic science parts throughout the program. Vertically integrated curricula present basic sciences imbedded in a clinical context from the start of medical school.The authors briefly discuss vertical integration in relationship with context theory, motivation theory, professional identity formation, transition to practice and the continuum of education and practice. They conclude that vertical integration, rather than horizontal integration, extends far beyond curriculum structure. They consider vertical integration a philosophy of education, with impact on students' maturation and engagement with the profession, and which applies not only to undergraduate education but to the lifelong learning of professionals. The definition of vertical integration as "an educational approach that fosters a gradual increase of learner participation in the professional community through a stepwise increase of knowledge-based engagement in practice with graduated responsibilities in patient care" is more comprehensive than its older conceptualization.