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Medical Distinctions

Distinctions provide optional pathways for Saint Louis University School of Medicine students to pursue their interests and passions alongside the regular curriculum. Each of the six distinctions offers M1 and M2 electives, along with seminars, activities, projects, and opportunities for focused engagement in the summer between SLU medical students’ first and second years. 


Mentorship is an important aspect of each distinction. Each community functions as a collective of students and faculty with shared goals and interests. The mentorship process is tailored to each area's needs, providing another excellent opportunity for students to pursue an area of special interest. 

Distinctions are offered for each of the following: 

Global Health  

Grounded in longitudinal service work with an underserved international population, students in the Global Health distinction may serve an overseas or local immigrant group.  Through lectures, small-group discussions, electives, outreach, and internationally focused projects across all four years of medical school, the Global Health Learning Community strives to connect our local community to the global community and to help students realize their potential, not just as providers in their home towns, but as students, teachers, and medical practitioners anywhere around the globe.  

Health Care Ethics  

Recognizing students' dedication to furthering their understanding of Health Care Ethics, this distinction provides avenues for students to further explore and deepen the integration of ethical consideration in their medical training and future practice.

Medical Education  

Medical students of today are the medical faculty of tomorrow. Students pursuing a distinction in Medical Education are interested in developing as future educators and helping to improve the medical curriculum at Saint Louis University School of Medicine. Students explore and invigorate medical education through such activities as tutoring, community education outreach, journal clubs and podcasts, curriculum content creation and research project.    

Medical Spanish

The Distinction in Medical Spanish is a program designed for students who are passionate about providing services to the Latinx/Hispanic communities and are committed to addressing healthcare disparities. The mission of this distinction is to equip students with the knowledge and skills necessary to address health disparities experienced by the Latinx/Hispanic communities. During the first year, students will have the opportunity to participate in the Medical Spanish Elective, which will enhance their language skills and introduce them to medical terminology specific to Spanish-speaking populations. This foundational course will set the stage for their involvement in local organizations and initiatives dedicated to promoting health care awareness within the Latinx community of St. Louis.


Providing opportunities to explore new ideas, challenge assumptions, and innovate, students in the Research distinction work to grow our understanding of medicine for the greater good. Research projects require commitment and can be very rewarding and broadly applicable. Basic science research involves working in a lab with expert principal investigators and other laboratory personnel, while clinical research involves working directly with physicians, either in the hospital or remotely.  

Urban Community Health

The goal of the Urban Community Health Distinction is to prepare our students, to lead purpose-driven and fulfilling careers in service to people and populations that are not well cared for in our current healthcare system. Our vision is grounded in the Jesuit value of cura personalis: that all people will live in healthy communities and receive high-quality care that honors the full person in body, mind and spirit. Students apply for this distinction in the fall of their first year. They are then partnered with community organizations where they will provide longitudinal service over the full course of their time at SLU. These long-term commitments allow students to form deep collaborative relationships with these organizations and to learn firsthand about the multiple factors that affect the health and well-being of people in the St. Louis community.


Fostering a culture of self-care and wellness for students throughout their medical education in support of cura personalis, or care for the whole person, students in this distinction support wellness across multiple domains including academic, professional, mental, physical, and social/interpersonal. This involves educating themselves about holistic health opportunities, sharing wellness practices with the St. Louis community, and improving their personal health so they have the energy to treat their future patients with compassion and wisdom. Activities include orchestrating wellness events, engaging in wellness-related outreach, supporting student wellness organizations, assessing student body mental health, and providing health-related resources.