Elective Application

Preclinical Electives

Preclinical electives are open to all first- and second-year students.  Many of these electives may also be taken by undergraduate PLME students. These electives are announced to students during the academic year at the beginning of each semester.  Most of these electives are faculty-led—organized and taught by Alpert Medical School faculty. Others are student led.  While each of these student-led electives has a faculty advisor, students design and implement these preclinical electives. Students choose to participate in either faculty-led or student-led preclinical electives based on subject area and pedagogical approach (didactic sessions, seminar discussion and/or community service). These electives may be associated and coordinated with Scholarly Concentration activities.

Preclinical electives are graded Satisfactory/No Credit.  A student receives a half-credit for successfully completing the course. While a preclinical elective appears on a student’s official transcript, the course does not count toward the MD degree.

Application Process

Faculty-led Preclinical Electives

Similar to the clinical elective application process, faculty who plan to offer a preclinical elective are required to fill out an application that must be approved by the Medical Curriculum Committee. The completed application should initially be sent to the chair of the Subcommittee for Electives. The chair either recommends to the Medical Curriculum Committee approval of the elective or returns the application to the course leader for revisions.  Once the preclinical elective is approved, the course leader may offer the course annually.  All faculty-led preclinical electives will be listed under the umbrella course: BIOL 3710.

Student-led Preclinical Electives

Each academic year, all student-led preclinical electives must be approved or recertified by the Medical Curriculum Committee. This policy enables the curriculum committee to track what student-led electives are offered each year, to assess their quality, and to disseminate this information accordingly to first- and second-year students and to undergraduate PLME students. A student-led preclinical elective must have a faculty advisor(s). The faculty advisor or other faculty such as guest lecturers are expected to attend at least 80% of the course sessions.

All approved preclinical electives will be listed under BIOL 3715:  Student-led Preclinical Electives.  Preclinical elective applications that are multidisciplinary, intellectually rigorous, and have measurable outcomes will be welcomed.

New Student-led Preclinical Elective.  To offer a new student-led preclinical elective requires the completion of an application and the approval of the Medical Curriculum Committee. 

Recertifying a Preclinical Elective. To offer a preclinical elective previously approved by the curriculum committee requires submitting an updated application that includes an evaluation of the course’s effectiveness and a statement on how the course will be revised and improved the next academic year. 

The chair of the Subcommittee on Electives initially reviews the new or recertification application. The chair will recommend approval of or the recertification of the elective or send it back for revisions before it is considered by the curriculum committee.

Curriculum Committee Review Schedule. Beginning in academic year 2009-10, student-led preclinical electives will be reviewed twice a year.

  •  At the  April or May  meeting  the curriculum committee will review  preclinical electives that will be offered in the fall  semester or given over the course of both fall and spring semesters.
  •  At the September or October meeting the curriculum committee will review  preclinical electives that will be offered in the spring semester.

Students  planning to submit a preclinical elective application, should contact the chair of the Subcommittee on Electives 10 days prior to submission of the completed application. The subcommittee chair will review the draft application and provide advice in addressing the application guidelines.

Proposals for a new elective should contain:

  •  general description of the elective
  •  outline of educational goals
  •  discussion of workload expectations
  •  draft of course syllabus and/or list of readings
  •  methods of  grading  student participants and evaluation of the  course

Proposals for recertification of an existing preclinical elective should contain:

  •  general description of the elective
  •  outline of educational goals
  •  discussion of workload expectations
  •  draft of course syllabus and/or list of readings
  •  methods of  grading student participants and evaluation of the  course
  •  evaluation report on the effectiveness of the course
  •  proposed revisions  of the course
  •  any new contact information for student/faculty course leaders

See below the preclinical elective application form. Please refer to the preclinical elective planning checklist for a step by step outline on preparing to offer a preclinical elective.

Clinical Electives

Application process

Offering a new clinical elective for the medical school requires approval by the Medical Curriculum Committee which meets on the second Wednesday of each month during the academic year.  The Subcommittee on Clinical Electives reviews the applications on a monthly basis and will either approve the elective or send it back for revisions.


Application process

The general purpose of a subinternship is to immerse the student in a simulation of the experiences of a first-year resident, thereby promoting the development of clinical skills, organizational abilities, the capacity to work as part of a medical care team, and an approach to integrating the demands of residency with the student’s personal life.  All of this is intended to help ensure a successful start of postgraduate training.

A subinternship should also provide the student with an opportunity to:

  • Enhance the communication skills so critical to medical care, including direct communication with patients and families, the writing of notes in the medical record, verbal communication with other physicians, communication with non-physician team members, and dictated notes, letters and discharge summaries.
  • Where appropriate and possible, development of skills in using electronic medical records and other electronic medical care systems (e.g., ordering) is desirable.
  • Advance his or her knowledge of disorders that are common in his or her chosen specialty.
  • Hone patient management skills, including the ability to perform routine but important procedures.
  • Enhance the skills associated with life-long learning and the practice of evidence-based medicine (reading and interpreting the medical literature, medical informatics, etc.).

To achieve the above educational goals, a subinternship should have the following characteristics:

  • If done at a Brown-affiliated hospital, it should be supervised by a Brown faculty member based in a clinical department of Brown Medical School.  This faculty member will take responsibility for evaluating students in the subinternship and for evaluation of the subinternship itself.  While this individual need not be the person responsible for the clinical service in which the subintern participates, the sponsor should meet with the subintern on a regular basis (minimum being weekly) during the rotation.
  • For subinternships done away, there must be a designated faculty member who assumes responsibility for evaluating the student.
  • The student’s role should be defined in such a way that he or she fulfills the role of a PGY-1.  That is, patients assigned to the subintern should not also be assigned to a first-year resident.  Furthermore, subinternship experiences will be confined to rotations in which PGY-1-level residents participate.
  • The student should be expected to assume the on-call responsibilities of a PGY-1, including the participation in cross-coverage arrangements.
  • The educational goals and plan for the subinternship should fulfill the requirements for certification of a minimum of 3 competencies, as defined by the Nine Abilities, at an advance level.

Additional requirements for a subinternship include the following:

  • The related core clerkship(s) must be successfully completed prior to the subinternship.
  • Students must be assigned for a period of 4-weeks to a single clinical service.
  • The subinternship must be an inpatient experience at a Brown-affiliated institution or at an institution affiliated with an accredited U.S. or Canadian Medical School.  In the case of away subinternships, the rotation must fulfill the subinternship requirement at that institution.
  • A subinternship must be considered and approved by the Medical Curriculum Committee prior to enrollment of any students.  Away subinternships and Brown-based specialty rotations will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

If you have any questions about the application process, please contact Dick Dollase. (Richard_Dollase@brown.edu).