Saint Louis University

Elective Activities

Non-Direct Patient Care and Reading Elective
Students will be allowed to complete no more than eight (8) total weeks of non-direct patient care electives with no more than two (2) weeks of reading electives. If a student wishes to exceed this limit, they must have their advisor petition the Associate Dean for Curriculum in writing at least four (4) weeks prior to the start of the elective.

Included in the designation of "non-direct patient care electives" are research, teaching, and the Capstone courses. Each non-direct patient care and reading elective will be clearly marked in the course descriptions on the Office of Curricular Affairs website. Satisfactory completion of reading electives should include a written report, paper, or exam.

Extramural Course Work
Course work not selected from the OASIS catalog is EXTRAMURAL course work. Students require prior approval from the relevant department at Saint Louis University School of Medicine. In special cases, such as international electives or departments not represented at the school, the Assistant Dean for Curriculum will provide the necessary approval. An increasing number of schools publish their electives using the Internet (VSAS). Click here for a complete listing of the Extramural Electives Compendium published by the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC).

When scheduling your extramural course work, you may find that the institution to which you are applying requests a letter of good standing and verification of the University's Professional Liability Program and health insurance. The Office of Curricular Affairs (LRC 101) will be able to accommodate your requests. Should you need a copy of your transcript or the school seal affixed to your application, the Office of Academic Records (LRC 101) can assist you.

The academic performance of students during Year 4 is subject to evaluation. Students planning extramural electives must make arrangements to insure that their elective directors complete evaluation forms at the end of each extramural period. It is important that students provide the name of the evaluator and their correct email address on the add/drop form as all evaluations are completed on the OASIS system.

International Electives:  The School of Medicine encourages students to plan curricular experiences in foreign countries. The American Medical Student Association (AMSA) has published a catalog entitled International Health Electives for Medical Students. Availability and price information can be obtained from AMSA, 1902 Association Drive, Reston, VA 22091.

Students who are interested in pursuing an international elective are encouraged to consider taking the elective offered by the Department of Community and Family Medicine entitled Global Health: Cross Cultural/International Experiences or the elective office by Internal Medicine entitled Geriatric Care in China.

All students scheduling an international elective MUST meet with Dr. Gregory Smith in the Office of Student Affairs.

Away Electives
Away electives are senior year clerkships that you take at a Medical Education Institution other than Saint Louis University School of Medicine and its affiliated hospitals. Military clerkships are an example of away electives. Many civilians will also want to do one or several electives. A common reason for doing an away elective is to audition for a position in the residency program at that same institution. Students applying in the most competitive tier of specialties usually opt to do two electives at institutions to which they are making application. There is some evidence in the Medical Education literature to indicate that those who do two electives have a higher success rate in matching into at least some program in that specialty. What literature there is, would suggest that beyond two electives there is probably no additional benefit to be gained. Many students trying for programs in the middle tier also feel that it is wise to do away electives. This is especially so for OB/GYN applicants. Students who are applying for the third tier, those programs where there are plenty of spots for everyone, do not need to do any electives in order to maximize their chances of getting an appointment somewhere in that specialty. However, some students going for these applicant-friendly specialties, will still choose to do an elective or two if there are one or two programs into which they would particularly like to match.

When should you do away electives? Conventional wisdom says that if you are going to do audition electives, you would first want to do the senior year floor service or other appropriate senior year clerkship in that same discipline, here at SLU to raise your skill levels up to those expected of someone who has already completed that clerkship. Then, soon thereafter, you would do your electives. This is especially true of the people going into the early match specialties or the military matches, because those residency programs hold the applicant ranking meetings often as early as December. Prime interview months for these kinds of electives are July, August, September, and maybe October. Students in the NRMP match often use the same months, however, they may also use November, December, and occasionally, even January, for audition electives, because NRMP specialties do not call for the residency programs to have their ranking meeting until early February.

In order to obtain an away elective, you have to make application to the away institution. You will generally indicate on this application the specialty of your choice, and also the time frame in which you would like to do it. If you are planning to do audition electives in September or October, when you fill out your Year 4 course request list with the Office of Academic Records, you obviously would not ask to be given important Saint Louis University-based clerkships in those months. However, you might want to ask for some SLU electives that you would be willing to give up if you got your away elective appointment, and sign up for those SLU electives through our matching process. This way, you have a back up position in place while you wait to hear if you have been accepted for your away elective. Keep in mind that almost no school will give you an affirmative answer until they have accommodated all of their own students. Most schools have a May or June date as the first date that they will start granting elective opportunities to students from other medical schools.

AAMC's On-Line Elective Compendium- Website

Interview Times
Students are not allowed to leave town to go to residency interviews during weeks in which they have scheduled senior year coursework. Therefore, you will need to schedule time in your senior year in which you have no coursework, so that you will be able to attend interviews. The part of the academic calendar in which you should schedule your interviews depends upon which of the matches you are using.

Students on military scholarship, almost without exception, do two senior year military clerkships, usually, but not always, at two different military medical centers, in the specialty of their choice. These are usually undertaken in the months of July, August, September, or October at the latest. During the clerkships at these two different military medical centers, you will ordinarily interview for a position at that program. You may also interview at other military programs at which you don't have the time to do an away elective. This is usually done either right before your military clerkships, or immediately after. You need to make sure that you have completed all your interviewing before your service branch holds its residency ranking meeting. The precise date that the boards meet varies a little from year to year, so you need to stay in touch with the contact person in your branch of the service. In general, the boards tend to meet in late November or early December, and you would certainly need all of your interviewing to be completed prior to that date.

The civilian specialties which have their own early match tend to do their interviewing in the months of October and November. Because all of the early match specialties are in the first tier of competitiveness except Neurology, many programs are very inflexible on precisely what date they will interview you. It is not uncommon to get a letter that says "Congratulations. You are one of the limited numbers of applicants we have chosen to interview. However, because of time demands and the large number of interviewees, we can only interview you if you can be here on such and such a date. Take it or leave it." In such an environment, students going into these specialties, in my opinion, need to leave the entire months of October and November free of any coursework, so that they may maximize their chances to say 'yes' to invitations to interview.

The prime interview months for students who are applying for specialties that utilize the NRMP match are December and January. Residency programs that participate in the NRMP match do not have to hold the meeting at which they rank their candidates until early to mid February. Surgical subspecialty programs that use the NRMP match, such as Plastic Surgery and Orthopedic Surgery, may also be very inflexible in their invitations to interview and students applying to these specialties need to leave six to eight weeks during these months open, so that they are able to interview at every program which extends them an invitation. For those students applying to second tier and third tier programs through the NRMP match, most programs will usually be highly flexible and allow you to interview at a time that is convenient for you.

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