Elective Policies and Procedures

Scope

This policy impacts current students, course directors of IUSM electives, and faculty offering special electives. The policy provides information on policies and procedures for elective courses, both established courses offered through IU School of Medicine and special electives.

Policy Statement

The Elective Program provides students with the opportunity to select courses that will enhance their medical education. The program makes available extensive resources that allow students to gain deeper insight into their field of choice as well as to delve deeper into areas that may enhance their overall medical experience. The Elective Program allows each student great flexibility in planning an individual program.

Elective courses are offered in the advanced sciences, clinical practice, and professional development and serve to widen the student’s involvement in his/her medical education. Elective courses also provide each student with opportunities to strengthen areas of weakness and to pursue subjects of special interest. There is a wide diversity of faculty ranging from volunteer physicians in private practice to full-time academic clinicians and investigators. This large faculty, available at 9 different centers throughout the state of Indiana, provides a depth of background and represents a wide spectrum of medical interests.

The goals of the Elective Program as established by the IU School of Medicine are:

  • To facilitate the student's increasing responsibility for self-determination in education and lifelong learning.
  • To provide an opportunity for the student to augment previous experience in clinical, foundational and health delivery areas.
  • To enable the student to experience the practice of medicine in its various forms in a university and a community setting and to be exposed to opportunities for careers in medicine.
  • To allow the student to gain deeper knowledge and experience in the care and treatment of ambulatory and acute problems.
  • To provide the student with opportunities to acquire and utilize skills which will be helpful in his/her next phase of clinical training and beyond.
  • To provide the student with opportunities to enhance medical knowledge in areas which may complement their career aspirations.
  • To provide special experiences to meet the needs of students with specific goals, such as research experience, postgraduate or graduate education, and/or special training outside the state or country.

Electives Definitions and Approval Process

Elective Courses

The Elective Program Catalog lists the various elective courses that are offered on a regular basis and provides the students with the information necessary to allow them to make choices that fit their schedule and their educational needs. Each elective has been carefully reviewed and approved by the Elective Subcommittee and Clinical Component of the Curriculum Council Steering Committee. The catalog is reviewed on a yearly basis to make sure that the information that the students will need is updated and as accurate as possible. Each elective course that is offered must have a course number, title, description, and learning objectives. The number is not an official university academic course number but is assigned to aid in the identification of the various electives. These numbers are extremely important as they are used in stating elective preferences and in making course assignments.

Special Electives

A special elective is defined as any elective not listed as an elective course in the IUSM Elective Program Catalog for which a student requests academic credit. Special electives may be academic programs offered in the state of Indiana or out-of-state. In general, no out-of-state special electives will be approved unless it is established that the program is available to and selected by students of the medical school(s) in that state/region. In order to obtain IUSM academic credit a special elective request requires review by IUSM faculty and staff to insure academic integrity, compliance with IUSM standards, and appropriateness for the student’s academic program.

Elective Subcommittee Makeup and Activities

The Elective Subcommittee (ESC) is comprised of IU School of Medicine faculty from a variety of disciplines as well as educational/administrative staff. The main regular activities of the ESC include reviewing new elective course proposals and individual medical student special electives, and guiding these electives through the approval process. For proposal requirements for elective courses, see How to Create Electives; for proposal requirements for special electives, see Special Electives Procedures below.

Elective Parameters and Duration

One calendar month represents four (4) academic credits. All elective courses officially begin on the first day of the month and end on the last day of the month. A “full time” elective entails a full academic day, five days per week and may include weekend duty, night call, and/or weekend call. Duty hours for medical students while on clinical rotations will conform to the same restrictions mandated by the ACGME for residents and fellows. Medical students cannot be assigned clinical duty of more than 80 hours per week. Retroactive elective credit for previous experience in research, clinical practice or professional development will not be granted. Students are discouraged from scheduling any elective that would involve being taught and/or evaluated by a family member.

Special Electives: Special electives must be a minimum of 26 calendar days in duration to earn 4 academic credits. Special electives of less than one month may be approved to meet special needs for 2 or 3 weeks duration or in multiples of 2 or 3 weeks. A special elective of 2 weeks (2 credits) must be a minimum of 12 calendar days in duration. Special electives of 3 weeks (3 credits) must be a minimum of 19 calendar days in duration. Students will be allowed to do no more than 2 special electives of less than 4 weeks duration. Shortened versions of established IUSM electives are classified as special electives and will require the same reviews and approvals as typically required for special electives.

Eligibility

Elective Courses: Students enrolling in an elective course must comply with its prerequisites, as listed in the Elective Program Catalog. Though most electives require fourth year status, some electives are open to first, second and third year students.

Special Electives: Students developing and enrolling in a special elective (as defined above) must have third or fourth year status and must be in good academic standing.

Graduation and Enrollment Requirements

To graduate, each student must satisfactorily complete a minimum of seven (7) elective months (28 academic credits). A minimum of four (4) elective months must be established courses (non-special electives), as listed in the Elective Program Catalog.

Time Off During Electives

During the fourth year, a brief time off from electives (1-3 days per unit) for residency interviewing or other purposes may be allowed at the discretion of the elective course director. Time off during an elective, whether regular or special, must conform with the IUSM Policy: Scheduling Conflicts/Request for Time Away/Religious Accommodations.

Reenrollment in Electives

Electives classified as Clinical Practice (CP) and Professional Development (PD) may not be taken more than one time. Electives classified as Advanced Science (AS) can be taken up to two times, unless otherwise noted on the elective description. Exceptions can be made for purposes of remediation.

Grading and Evaluation

Assessment guidelines for all elective courses are included in the Elective Program Catalog. In order to be approved, Special Electives (see Special Electives Procedures below) must include the means by which the student will be assessed for that elective. The elective course director is responsible for assessment of the student and the assignment of a final grade within 30 days of the end of the elective. All failures or isolated deficiencies will be referred to the Student Promotions Committee for review.

Students evaluations of electives are due upon completion of the elective. Aggregate evaluation reports are made available to course directors in order to evaluate and improve the elective experience.

Additional Electives

Students may take more than the seven (7) months of required electives, but additional electives beyond the required seven (7) months must also be completed prior to certification of their graduation. The deadline to drop any additional elective(s) corresponds with the final change dates identified in the Schedule Changes as noted below.

Graduation Dates

Students will graduate, once all requirements are satisfactorily completed, on the last day of the month in which the final elective or rotation is completed. Commencement will be held in May of each year for all graduates. Students who participate in an elective or rotation after April of the current academic year will not receive their actual diploma until the completion of their last scheduled course and verification that all requirements are satisfactorily completed.

Reason for Policy

The rationale for this policy is to communicate the requirements and procedures for both elective courses and special electives.

General Procedures

Scheduling of Elective Courses

Fourth Year

Once the required 4th year clerkships (Emergency Medicine, Internal Medicine Sub-Internship, and Radiology) are scheduled, electives are scheduled in E*Value. Student requests for electives are processed based on order requested and availability. After elective and fourth year clerkship schedules are completed and made available to elective course directors and administrators, schedule changes may be made in accordance with procedures listed under Elective Schedule Changes.

Third Year

Instead of taking a vacation month in the third year, students may take any IUSM elective that is approved for third year students. In order to be added to the elective, a student must get approval from the elective course director and forward that approval to the Registrar’s Office. Third year students might also be eligible for special electives. Please refer to the Special Electives section below for details.

Elective Schedule Changes

After initial electives schedules and rosters are released, schedule change requests may be submitted using the Manage Requests tool in E*Value. Students should follow the steps outlined below to request elective schedule changes:

  1. Students request new electives using the Manage Requests tool in E*Value. Students must secure course director or administrator permission in order to add a course. Students must attach the permission as a document to the request to add in E*Value. Requests to add electives will not be processed without course director or administrator permission. Students are also encouraged to get their faculty advisor’s approval for any schedule change, but documentation of that is not required.
  2. Students must put a drop request in using the Manage Requests tool in E*Value for any elective they wish to drop and are REQUIRED to notify the course director or administrator that they wish to drop the elective.
  3. All requests to drop or add an elective must be made ONE MONTH PRIOR to the start of the elective, unless otherwise noted in the course description. If a change is approved by the course director or administrator less than one month prior to the start of the elective, email approvals should be sent to one of the Assistant Registrars: Nancy Mitchell (nanmitch@iu.edu) or Judy Casper (jucasper@iu.edu)
  4. Students can view their current elective schedule using the Roster Report tool in E*Value. Course directors and administrators automatically receive notification when schedule changes are made.

Special Elective Procedures

ALL COMPLETED FORMS AND SUPPORTED MATERIALS MUST BE SUBMITTED TO NANCY MITCHELL (nanmitch@iu.edu; MS 162) BY THE DEADLINES DESCRIBED BELOW For purposes of review and approval, special electives are classified in four categories:

  1. Special Electives (away rotations) offered through the AAMC Visiting Student Application Service (VSAS)

    ***All completed forms and supporting documentation must be submitted as soon as approval has been received for the rotation.*** Please note that an affiliation agreement with the host institution or clinical location may be required, so submit your paperwork as early as possible for electives within this category.

    This category includes special electives offered through the AAMC Visiting Student Application Service (VSAS). Please review the VSAS host institution list for participating schools. Academic credit for an elective in this category accredited requires completion of all of the following:

    • Special Elective Request Form, which includes:
      • A course description from the host institution (via VSAS or the school website). The course description must include detail regarding the educational experience of the course and a statement noting the number of duty/work hours expected for the student to spend weekly on the elective. The course description should also include course goals and objectives, and plans for assessment.
      • Approval from the appropriate Indiana University department chair. Interdisciplinary offerings or electives not classifiable under a clinical or basic science department must be approved by the Chairperson of the Elective Subcommittee or his/her designee.
      • Approval from the student's faculty advisor.
    • Written approval for the rotation from VSAS (via letter or email)
    • Elective schedule change request (see above) if this elective is to replace one that was previously scheduled
  2. Special Electives at IU School of Medicine and other LCME-accredited institutions

    ***All completed forms and supporting documentation must be submitted no later than ONE month prior to the 1st day of the month in which the elective is scheduled to take place.*** For example, if a special elective of this type is set to take place in November, all forms and supporting documentation must be submitted by no later than October 1st. Please note that an affiliation agreement with the host institution or clinical location may be required, so submit your paperwork as early as possible for any “away” electives within this category.

    This category includes special electives affiliated with the IU School of Medicine and all LCME-accredited institutions not using VSAS. Academic credit requires completion of a:

    • Special Elective Request Form, which includes:
      • A course description from the instructor. The course description must include detail regarding the educational experience of the course and a statement noting the number of duty/work hours expected for the student to spend weekly on the elective. The course description should also include course goals and objectives, and plans for assessment.
      • Approval from the appropriate Indiana University department chair. Interdisciplinary offerings or electives not classifiable under a clinical or basic science department must be approved by the Chairperson of the Elective Subcommittee or his/her designee.
      • Approval from the student's faculty advisor.
      • Approval from the proposed special elective course director.
    • Elective schedule change request (see above) if this elective is to replace one that was previously scheduled
  3. Special Electives at non-LCME accredited US and Canadian schools or sites

    ***All completed forms and supporting documentation must be submitted no later than ONE month prior to the 1st day of the month in which the elective is scheduled to take place.*** For example, if a special elective of this type is set to take place in November, all forms and supporting documentation must be submitted by no later than October 1st. Please note that an affiliation agreement with the host institution or clinical location may be required, so submit your paperwork as early as possible for electives within this category.

    This category includes electives taken at non-LCME accredited institutions and with private practice physicians not directly affiliated with IUSM. Academic credit for an elective taken at a non-LCME accredited school requires completion of all of the following:

    • Special Elective Request Form, which includes
      • A course description from the instructor. The course description must include detail regarding the educational experience of the course and a statement noting the number of duty/work hours expected for the student to spend weekly on the elective. The course description should also include course goals and objectives, and plans for assessment.
      • Approval from the appropriate Indiana University department chair. Interdisciplinary offerings or electives not classifiable under a clinical or basic science department must be approved by the Chairperson of the Elective Subcommittee or his/her designee.
      • Approval from the student's faculty advisor.
      • Approval from the proposed elective course director.
    • Non-LCME Special Elective: Course Addendum
    • Non-LCME Special Elective: Instructor Addendum
    • Elective schedule change request (see above) if this elective is to replace one that was previously scheduled
  4. Special Electives at International Locations, including Schools with IUSM Affiliation

    ***All completed forms and required supporting documentation must be submitted no later than TWO months prior to the 1st day of the month in which the elective is scheduled to take place.*** For example, if a special elective of this type is set to take place in November, all forms and supporting documentation must be submitted by no later than September 1st.

    In congruence with the guidelines for Individual IUSM Students Planning International Travel, academic credit for electives at international locations require completion of all of the following:

    • Special Elective Request Form, which includes:
      • A course description from the instructor or from the host institution. The course description must include detail regarding the educational experience of the course and a statement noting the number of duty/work hours expected for the student to spend weekly on the elective. The course description should also include course goals and objectives, and plans for assessment.
      • Approval from the appropriate Indiana University department chair. Interdisciplinary offerings or electives not classifiable under a clinical or basic science department must be approved by the Chairperson of the Elective Subcommittee or his/her designee.
      • Approval from the student's faculty advisor.
      • Approval from the proposed special elective course director or institution.
    • Special Elective Request Form– International Elective Addendum
    • Non-LCME Special Elective: Course Addendum
    • Non-LCME Special Elective: Instructor Addendum
    • International Travel Verification Form
    • Elective schedule change request (see above) if this elective is to replace one that was previously scheduled

    Additional documentation requested by Medical Student Education and the IUPUI Study Abroad office may include but is not limited to:

    • IUPUI Student Information Form, including emergency contact information
    • IUPUI Medical History Form
    • IUPUI Waiver and Release Forms
    • Proof of orientation for foreign travel conducted by either the IUPUI Study Abroad office or appropriate IUSM faculty

Definitions

LCME – Liaison Committee for Medical Education is the accrediting body medical education programs leading to the MD degree in the United States and Canada

  • VSAS - The Visiting Student Application Service (VSAS) is an AAMC application designed to streamline the application process for senior "away" electives. VSAS enables medical students to submit just one application for all institutions, effectively reducing paperwork, miscommunication, and time. Please visit the VSAS site for more information

Sanctions

Students’ failure to comply with this policy will impact enrollment in and completion of electives.

Specific Contacts

Subject Contact Phone Email
Elective Course Proposals Neelum Safdar (317) 274-4742 nrsafdar@iu.edu
Elective Subcommittee Hadley Ritter, MD (317) 688-2790 heritter@iupui.edu
Electives Enrollment Amanda Ybarra (317) 274-1971 ajybarra@iu.edu
Special Elective Requests Nancy Mitchell (317) 274-1973 nanmitch@iu.edu

Forms

Schedule Change and Special Elective Forms: http://mse.medicine.iu.edu/student-affairs/student-records/elective-forms.html

Elective Program Catalog: https://www.iu.edu/~iusom/electives/

History

Originated January 2010
Revised and Approved by CCSC June 12, 2012
Revised and Approved by ESC August 21, 2015
Revised and Approved by CCCC October 6, 2015
Revised and Approved by CCSC December 8, 2015

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