Frequently Asked Fourth-Year Questions

When should I begin applying for extramural electives?

Most U.S. medical schools will not take any action on confirmation of visiting students until their students are fully scheduled, which in most cases is after March. The only programs that typically fill earlier are the Indian Health Service rotations. You should file applications for these as soon as possible.

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) has complied a list on the web of all LCME-accredited schools, addresses, phone numbers, and contact names in regard to setting up fourth year electives. The AAMC also has compiled an online extramural electives compendium containing essential information for medical students about planning for elective opportunities at LCME-accredited medical schools in the U.S.A. and Canada.

When should I begin applying for foreign extramural electives?

Foreign program applications also should be submitted as soon as possible due to their openings filling by the beginning of your senior year. Delay in mail delivery in some countries is another reason for early contact with programs in which you have an interest.

Where? You can go almost anywhere, provided it’s a real program approved by a recognized school of medicine.

WUSM students have gone to Canada, Chile, Cuba, Ecuador, Honduras, India, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Kenya, Malawi, Pakistan, South Africa, and the UK among other places.

Foreign program requirements:

  1. Have a course description and course master at the foreign site and at WUSM.
  2. You must complete a Request for Approval of International Elective for Academic Credit form and return it to the Curriculum Office at least 30 days prior to your scheduled departure.
  3. Purchase medical, personal and travel insurance. For international electives, you are not covered under WUSM health insurance. You must purchase this coverage from HTH Worldwide. Please include documentation of coverage when turning in the
  4. Request for Approval form to the Curriculum Office. Minimum insurance coverage requirements are also included in the Request for Approval packet.
  5. Make an appointment and obtain health recommendations from Student Health, e.g., about vaccinations and post-exposure prophylaxis for exposure to blood and bodily fluids.
  6. Sign a release form.
  7. Your personal safety is a very important consideration when arranging an overseas elective. Information regarding travel warnings issued by the State Department is available on the State Department website. A copy of the guidelines pertaining to the area you are visiting must be included in the application for overseas elective. The Career Counseling Office also has a safety checklist that is required reading before going overseas. (A student must confirm that he/she has received and reviewed this information.)
  8. If awarded a travel fellowship (see below), in addition to the above, you will also need to a) complete a log book and b) write a brief paper reflecting on what was learned (not a research or clinical paper).

How will I pay for the foreign rotation?

Travel expenses, room and board, etc., for foreign rotations are not covered by your WUMS tuition. Information on foreign rotation fellowships is available in the Career Counseling Office.

* How do I go about finding a foreign project?

  1. Start looking as soon as possible!! This will take time and persistence.
  2. Ask everyone for ideas. The initial overseas contact does not have to be through the Washington University community. You will need a mentor there and a mentor here, but you can find the two mentors separately.
  3. Visit the FIHTM website. Included in this website are email addresses for former WUSM students and their rotation sites.

There is a file in the Career Counseling Office containing summaries of previous foreign experiences.

Are there any contact sources for more information?

  1. Setting up extramural rotations:  Curriculum Office (747-3854)
  2. Foreign travel grants:  Career Counseling Office (362-6251)
  3. Information and links to other sites such as the CDC, AMSA, passport information, weather information, etc.

Visit FIHTM website »

Do I have to take extramural electives?

Absolutely not. Some students do all their electives here. The academic year is divided into 44 weeks, allowing eight weeks of free time and 36 weeks being required for completion of your final year and graduation. NOTE: You must take at least 24 weeks at WUSM and may take the additional 12 weeks off campus.

What must I do to take off-campus electives as far as the medical school is concerned?

If you plan off-campus work for academic credit, it must first be approved by the Associate Dean for Medical Student Education. In addition, you must have completed all course work in the first three years of the medical school curriculum in order to begin extramural (off-campus) electives. A description of the elective in which you are interested must be obtained. It should identify:

  1. medical school affiliation and location of the elective
  2. the course master who will supervise and evaluate you
  3. sufficient detail should be included to permit the proposed elective to be assessed ( ~1 page description)

This information must be submitted along with a form which is available in the Curriculum Office. Absolutely no credit will be granted for electives undertaken prior to approval of the Associate Dean for Medical Student Education.

How many weeks may be extramural for elective credit?

A maximum of twelve (12) weeks credit.  Or, a maximum of sixteen (16) weeks if one elective is an approved family practice rotation.

If I am in a military program, how many weeks may I serve with “active duty status” and how much credit may I receive?

Students in military training programs are allowed a maximum of 12 weeks during which electives may be taken which have prior approval of the Associate Dean for Medical Student Education.

May I take a stipend for doing an off-campus elective?

No remuneration is allowable for electives which are taken for academic credit with the exception of offsetting compensation for travel expenses, room and/or board.

Am I covered by medical liability when I am doing an away elective?

WUSM medical liability program covers students participating in electives on a for-credit basis only.

Am I covered by WUSM health insurance while doing an extramural elective?

Only while in the United States and for emergency room and hospitalization only; no medications, and no benefits for outpatient care unless referred by the emergency room. Emergency room and hospitalization covered at 80 percent less co-pay. Please visit the Student and Occupational Health website for further details.

Am I covered by WUSM health insurance during international electives?

No. For international electives, you are not covered under WUSM health insurance. See Foreign Program Requirements for more details.

If I require a signature, school seal, copy of transcript or letter from a dean for my application for an away elective, from which office should I get this?

The Curriculum Office furnishes all of the above and will have information regarding electives at some medical schools. Please bring all forms and information requests related to electives to the Curriculum Office.

May I take an away elective during the last period of the fourth year?

No, because retrieval of evaluations for these electives may make clearance for graduation uncertain.

If I have approval of my away elective, can I just leave when it’s time to start the rotation?

No, before you leave to participate in an off-campus rotation, you must complete a Request for Approval of Extramural Elective form and include a copy of the course description. This form is available in the Curriculum Office.

If I change career plans and need to change an elective or two after I have scheduled, will I be able to do this?

Yes, you will have an opportunity to change your schedule until November 30, 2005, with appropriate course master written approval. The logistics of adding or dropping electives is outlined in detail in your fourth-year Electives Book.

Does the Curriculum Office handle the residency match?

No, the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) for WUSM students is handled through the Career Counseling office (362-6251).

Who does my Dean’s letter  (MSPE)?

Dr. Kathryn Diemer, Assistant Dean for Career Counseling, handles the composition of our Dean’s letters (362-6251).

I have a friend in another medical school who wants to take an elective at WUSM; who handles that?

He/she should visit the MD Program web site for more information.