Welcome to M4 Electives
Background: Electives are designed to allow medical students the opportunity to explore a variety of specialties not typically offered in the traditional MS3 clerkships (foundational electives) or to pursue a specific specialty at a higher level (advanced electives) in order to be better prepared for residency training. In addition, electives provide an opportunity for students to study areas of medicine for which they may never receive formal instruction so as to allow for a broad medical education. The following policy applies to the electives at VCU School of Medicine.
- Pre-requisites: None*
- Duration:2 weeks per elective
- Offerings: The elective catalog contained within e-curriculum includes all available foundational electives. If a student would like to complete a foundational elective which is not formally offered through the catalog, the student must submit a proposal to the Curriculum Office.
- Elective time: All students are provided 4 weeks of foundational elective time during the first 12 months of the clinical curriculum.
- Placement: A foundational elective lottery is run twice per academic year. The first lottery occurs after students have been placed into their core clerkships. This lottery places students in foundational electives which take place in the first half of the respective academic year. A second lottery occurs in the fall of the third year. This lottery places students in foundational electives which take place in the second half of the respective academic year. Students may not add or drop foundational electives.
*Students are required to complete the Surgery clerkship prior to enrolling in a foundational elective in a surgical subspecialty.
- Pre-requisites: 4 months of core clerkships AND any core clerskship which naturally precedes the advanced (e.g. students must complete the internal medicine clerkship before taking a medicine advanced elective) elective.
- Duration: 2-4 weeks per elective
- Offerings: The elective catalog contained within e-curriculum includes all available advanced electives. If a student would like to complete an advanced elective which is not formally offered through the catalog, the student must submit a proposal to the Curriculum Office.
- Elective time: Students are provided 44 weeks during the second 12 months of the clinical curriculum to complete advanced electives and acting internships. In addition, a student may elect to use designated foundational elective time for advanced electives if the student has met the pre-requisites for the advanced elective of interest.
- Placement: An advanced lottery is run once per academic year. The advanced lottery in the second half of the third year. Students may add or drop advanced electives up to two weeks before the start of the elective.
- Categories of advanced electives:
- Clinical advanced electives
- Rotations in which students participate in direct patient care clinical activities including clinic/consult months, domestic electives, international clinical rotations, and procedural skills electives. See individual requirements below.
- Non-clinical advanced electives
- Rotations in which students do not participate in direct patient care activities. These include but are not limited to: Interview block; USMLE Step 2 Study block; Vacation; Independent Projects; Reading blocks. See individual requirements below.
- Students may complete a maximum of 20 weeks of non-clinical experiences.
- Clinical advanced electives
Details on Elective Experiences
- Interview Block: Students may take up to 4 weeks for interviews.
- USMLE Step 2 Study Block: Students may take up to 4 weeks for Step 2 examination preparation.
- Vacation time: a maximum of 4 weeks may be taken over the course of the clinical curriculum; a maximum of 2 weeks may be taken in the first 12 months of the clinical curriculum
- Domestic electives: Students may take a maximum of 16 weeks of domestic electives (away rotations); each domestic elective must be approved by either the Assistant Dean for Clinical Medical Education or the Associate Dean for Student Affairs to ensure the site meets LCME requirements; domestic electives may count as an Acting Internship if they meet the requirements defined to qualify as an Acting Internship. See Acting Internship defined below.
- Independent projects: Non-clinical experiences including research experiences or other experiences not included in the elective catalog; must be submitted for approval to the Elective/Curriculum Office. All independent project forms must be submitted to the Electives Office at least two weeks prior to the beginning of the block.
An Acting Internship is a clinical experience completed at VCU or affiliated hospital systems* in which the medical student is expected to demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and attitudes expected of a first year resident. All students must complete 2 acting internships. One must be an "inpatient ward" acting internship. The other must be a "critical care" acting internship.
- Inpatient ward Acting Internship: Exclusively Inpatient-based experience at VCU or affiliated hospital systems (i.e. INOVA or the VA) in which the student performs at the level of a first year resident in the respective clinical setting.
- Critical Care Acting Intership: Critical care-oriented experience at VCU or affiliated hospital systems (i.e. INOVA or the VA) in which the student performs at the level of a first year resident in the respective critical care setting.
*"Away" Acting Internship may be considered on a case-by-case basis if they meet all the criteria included in the definition.