Alpert Medical School offers its students a wide variety of elective opportunities in clinical medicine, research, the liberal arts, and the basic sciences. These may be pursued at Brown or at other universities, in our member hospitals, in associated community institutions, or in approved, off-site preceptorships.

Guidelines and Resources for Planning Electives

Students' initial enrollment in established clinical electives for a given academic year take place in the spring of the preceding academic year via a computer lottery system done via the OASIS scheduling system. Once students complete their initial enrollments, students from other U.S. and Canadian medical schools and some foreign medical schools may be accepted into any remaining elective openings. In planning electives, students should consult faculty members and staff to discuss a plan for electives that corresponds to their career goals and interests.

Enrollment in clinical electives after the lottery has taken place is done through the OASIS scheduling and evaluation system. Sign-up is required to take place at least two weeks before the start date of an elective. Some rotations require additional advance notice to enroll, including subinternships. This information can be found in the course catalog section of the OASIS system.

The Oasis course catalog also provides descriptions of elective opportunities appropriate for each level of study. 

Oasis Course Catalog (requires log-in) 

Visiting medical students may consult the clinical elective list to view available elective opportunities: Clinical Elective Listing

Extramural Electives

Many students spend a portion of their elective time at another institution. This is often a part of the residency selection process. There is a limit of 12 weeks of away electives that can be taken without reducing vacation time. Students may wish to speak with their faculty advisors in choosing away electives.  Students who wish to schedule more than 12 weeks away requires permission from The Associate Dean of Medical Education, Dr. Allan Tunkel.   Third- and fourth-year students should keep in mind that they must complete at least 26 weeks of clinical electives at Brown

The American Association of Medical Colleges has a website to assist students applying for extramural electives.

To register for an away elective, the student should first write to the institution in question. In addition to indicating the elective of interest, they should indicate that a written evaluation of their performance will be required by the Alpert Medical School, and they should request written confirmation of acceptance into the elective. A copy of such confirmation must be filed with the Clerkship Coordinator before the program is to begin.

Please note - If the extramural institution to which you are applying requires a Criminal Background Check (BCI), this is the responsibility of the student. Alpert Medical School has an account with Barada Associates, an outside company. Please contact Lori Avallone in the Clerkship Office to obtain specific instructions for the BCI. Students are required to reimburse Alpert Medical School for the cost of the BCI, which generally ranges from $30 to $35.

Students who will be away from AMS for electives should leave a temporary address with the Clerkship Coordinator. They should also make arrangements with the mailroom for the handling of their notices and correspondence.

Note: All medical students in Years II through IV are covered by comprehensive personal liability insurance that covers them during activities at other institutions as long as they are formally enrolled in an education exercise previously approved by the Clerkship Coordinator. AMS students are covered under our malpractice insurance plan when they are writing orders so long as they are countersigned by a licensed supervising physician.

Restricted Electives

Certain clinical electives in the Medical School are restricted to students who agree not to drop the elective after enrolling in it. This restriction has been deemed necessary by the course leaders for two reasons. First, some electives, such as subinternships, are planned to involve the student as an important component of the health care team. Residents' schedules are determined with the presence of the student in mind. If a student drops this elective, it leaves the team short-staffed.

Second, some electives, such as the clinical nephrology elective, are in great demand both by Brown students and students from other medical schools. When a slot is selected by a Brown student, it is not available to others. If a student drops this elective, it is often impossible to fill the slot and thus unnecessarily denies the opportunity to other students.

Students selecting restricted electives must have a firm commitment to take the elective as scheduled. Likewise, course leaders for restricted electives must be willing to offer students a firm commitment that the slot for the elective will be available during the time selected by the student. Some restricted electives (e.g. subinternships) make slots contingent upon the results of the third-year clerkship lottery. In those circumstances, the student may assume the slot in the restricted elective is guaranteed two weeks after the fourth-year lottery, unless notified otherwise within that two-week period.

Students who are enrolled in restricted electives are expected not to drop that elective within one month of the scheduled starting date of that elective, except in extreme circumstances which must be approved in advance by the Director of Medical Student Affairs. (See below for a delineation of circumstances that would permit students to be excused.)

A student who is not excused but who fails to honor his or her commitment will be denied permission to enroll in any courses during the time allocated originally for the restricted elective, whether or not the courses are taken at Brown or at another institution. Furthermore, a letter will be entered into the student's permanent file, noting the student's failure to fulfill his or her obligation.

Students who believe that their absence from the restricted elective should have been excused or permitted but was not may appeal the decision of the Associate Dean to the Appeals and Grievance Committee under the usual rules governing appeals. The Appeals and Grievance Committee will make its decision based upon evidence that excusable circumstances did or did not exist (see below).

Excusable Circumstances Permitting Dropping of Restricted Electives

  1. A student may drop a restricted elective without penalty anytime prior to one month of the starting date of the course by notifying the Clinical Coordinator in the Office of Medical Student Affairs.
  2. A student may drop a restricted elective without penalty if approved by the Director of Medical Student Affairs. Approval may be given for the following circumstances:
    1. Injury or illness that precludes or might preclude full participation in the course;
    2. Compelling family crises such as illness in a close family member or transfer of a spouse's job to another state;
    3. Mental illness or emotional/behavioral problems that would impair the student's ability to perform adequately in the course or would not be in the best interest of the student's mental health or would have an adverse effect on the clinical service;
    4. Other circumstances of an extreme, unanticipated, and compelling nature.
  3. A student may drop a restricted elective without penalty if approved by the course leader. In this case the student must notify the Clinical Coordinator in the Office of Medical Student Affairs.