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Student Handbook

Academic Calendar and Curriculum

The academic calendar shows key dates that include late fees.

For additional curricular information, please visit this page as well as this presentation on Program Competencies and Curricular Milestones (PDF).

Longitudinal Integrative Clerkships
The 3rd year curriculum is primarily composed of a 46-week longitudinal integrated clerkship (LIC). The LIC has six core disciplines; family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, OB/GYN, general surgery, and psychiatry with additional content in neurology. Students will interleave work in these areas of medicine each week for the duration of the LIC. The LIC is designed for students to learn from the same small number of faculty in each of those disciplines for the duration of the LIC. Each student will also have a panel of continuity patients. Students will follow and participate in coordinated and comprehensive care for this group of patients. The underlying principal of the LIC is for students to have continuity with both preceptors and patients during this important educational period. The Clinical Education Directors have developed a defined body of content, both in terms of types of cases to be seen as well as procedures that each student will be required to experience, and the student’s progress through this material will be monitored throughout the LIC. Additionally, there will be a half day of academic time each week when students will gather at the clinical campus to present interesting cases and review basic science content.

Clinical Rotations
The 4th year consists of a series of the more traditional block rotations, each 4 weeks in duration. Each student is required to participate in a sub-internship rotation in one of the six core disciplines covered in the LIC. All students are required to do a rotation in emergency medicine and either a rural rotation or an underserved rotation. Students are required to do six additional 4 week elective rotations for a total of nine 4 week rotations. There are 10 blocks of time to complete these 9 rotations plus time allocated for travel for residency interviews. There will be opportunities for students to do a rotation in most all recognized medical specialties, but they may need to travel to one of the other clinical campuses depending upon available resources. Students will also have an opportunity to do away rotations and to design their own rotation, as long as it is approved by the administration.

Research and Scholarship
All MD students will be required to complete a scholarly project as a graduation requirement. The College of Medicine required research and scholarship project is founded on the principle that investigative experiences promote problem solving and sharpen critical reasoning. Providing opportunities to develop skills in research and scholarship will prepare you to be a physician who is clinically astute, responsive to community problems, and compassionate toward clinical and community needs. Beginning Year 1, you will be introduced to foundational research and scholarship principles in your coursework. Outside of class, you will be given time and support to select a medicine-related project and connect with a project supervisor, who will assist you in planning and implementing your project. During Years 2 – 4, you will dedicate a total of 320 hours to executing your project, which will be completed by December of Year 4. Your project will have an end-product, referred to as a deliverable, that will be presented in December of Year 4 as tangible evidence of the completion of the project. The focus of the scholarly project experience is the learning that has occurred. To support this type of learning, you will collect artifacts that will serve as benchmark indicators of your progress throughout the project, which will be compiled into a Scholarly Projects Portfolio. Assessment will be based on this Portfolio and the evidence it shows of your learning and growth over the course of the entire process. The College of Medicine program will provide support for you and your project every step of the way, ensuring that you are provided with all the resources necessary for success.

All students will be required to complete a scholarly project. In order to meet the requirements of the scholarly project, each project must meet the following criteria:

  • Must involve at least 320 hours of work
  • Project may begin at the end of Year 1 and must be completed in Year 4
  • Project proposals must be approved by the scholarship committee prior to engagement in the project
  • All students must have an identified project supervisor
  • Assessment will include both formative and summative components.

A mid-point formative progress report will occur at the end of Year 2 and an end of project summative assessment point will occur at the end of Year 4. Summative assessment of the project will be based on a Hons/Pass/Fail system. The rubric used to complete the assessment will be comprised of 10 criteria. Students must meet the requirements of 7 of the 10 criteria to achieve a Pass. Students meeting the requirements of 9 or more of the criteria will achieve Honors.


The College of Medicine portfolio is a four-year educational and assessment tool that will provide the students with the opportunity to use individual learning experiences to inform their continuous professional development and monitor their progression towards meeting core program competencies.

Our portfolio will use educational and assessment activities in combination to allow students to identify patterns, construct their own learning objectives, develop the habit of reflective practice, and connect their experiences to lifelong learning and quality improvement.

How do portfolios support learning?
The College of Medicine portfolio will provide a central place for collecting curricular artifacts that represent evidence of learning. It will also provide a structured space and defined activities that encourage students to integrate multiple sources of feedback to inform their learning and development.

Our portfolio will explicitly incorporate assessment as a major component and will make use of both formative and summative assessment activities to support the development of self-monitoring and self-reflection skills. Students will also be provided with an academic portfolio coach who will work with them to integrate feedback and support the students as the develop their skills in self-assessment and self-reflection.

How do portfolios fit into the curriculum?

ESFCOM programmatic assessment plan

As a specific assessment modality, portfolios provide a structured space and specific activities for students to learn and receive feedback about their self-assessment, self-reflection, and development in the core program competencies.
What happens in the portfolio?

Students will use the portfolio to:

  • Triangulate multiple sources of evidence and use that evidence to inform a self-assessment
  • Self-reflect on their strengths and weaknesses
  • Develop learning plans to address knowledge gaps or areas of weakness

Coaches will use the portfolio to:

  • Review the evidence and self-assessments
  • Review the self-reflection
  • Support the development of learning plans
  • Provide formative feedback on the development of self-regulated learning
  • Connect students with any required support

What is the role of the Academic Portfolio Coach?

The primary role of an Academic Portfolio Coach (APC) is to provide feedback and support that will help inform self-assessment, self-reflection, and self-regulated learning. The Academic Portfolio Coach will provide a safe place for your students to reflect and you will support and facilitate the process of exploring strengths and blind spots, enable self-challenge and focus on goals.

Portfolio coaches are experts in process
Academic Portfolio Coaches are considered experts on the processes that are required to achieve success. In other words, their focus is to support the learner in improving their performance. As a coach, you will take a learner through a process of discovery and skills development, promoting inquiry and reflection to support learners in working toward their desired goals. The partnership you build with your student is structured and established to work toward goals, understand and resolve challenges, and focus on growth and learning. As an Academic Portfolio Coach, your job is not dependent on you having all the answers. Instead you provide a supportive yet probing/stimulating perspective for the learner.

Providing feedback on the learning and self-assessment process

As an Academic Portfolio Coach will be to provide formative feedback (both written and verbal) to your students on their self-assessment and their self-reflection. We will be defining self-assessment as “a personal, unguided reflection on performance for the purposes of generating an individually derived summary judgment of one’s own level of knowledge, skill, and understanding in a particular area, (Eva and Regehr 2008).

There is an extensive body of research that shows that most of us are inaccurate with self-assessment and that there are several mechanisms by which we fool ourselves into believing that we have privileged insight into our own capabilities. The Academic Portfolio Coach provides support for students as they begin to gain insight into their own strengths and weakness. The Coach is not to point out a lack insight but to work with the student when there appears to be a disconnect between their self-assessment and the data they use to inform that self-assessment. The focus of discussions should center around strengths and areas for improvement. And how to address those areas that may need some improvement.

The feedback the Coach gives the student will be guided by a self-regulation rubric that describes student advancement through various developmental stages of learning. The focus of the rubric is self-directed learning and self-assessment and personal growth.

Student and Coach Workflow
Students will meet with their academic portfolio coaches at two points during each course; at the mid-course point for a formative review and at the end of the course for a follow up discussion.

Mid-course formative portfolio review session 1:

The following diagram is a high-level overview of the four-steps involved in the formative review process. More details for the formative portfolio review session will be included in the documentation that will be released prior to the formative portfolio review.

Four step process
Figure 1: Four-step process involved in the formative portfolio review.
Step 1: Prior to meeting with coach: student review assessment evidence collected in gradebook and use that evidence to inform a self-assessment. Step 2: Coach will review the evidence and the self-assessment with the student. Student-coach discuss strengths and weaknesses and develop a learning plan to address gaps or weaknesses. Step 3: Student to reflect on learning and post to portfolio. Step 4: Coach to review the reflection and provide feedback on the self-assessment and self-reflection process.

No grades will be assigned at the formative portfolio review; however, the Coach will receive a mid-course progress report from the assessment unit that provides the Coach with data regarding student performance at that point in the course. If the student is struggling academically and/or has received multiple notifications of concern from the program, the Coach will work with the student to identify the areas of concern, develop learning plans to address those areas and the Coach will connect the student with both the Course Director and with Student Affairs for mid-course support. A suggested communications plan has been included below.

Formative Portfolio Review 2:
The second review will be a brief check-in to follow up on learning plans and a chance for the students and the coaches to check in on progression through the course. More details regarding the second check-in can be found in the specific sessions plans.

Learning Plans

Self-directed learning will mark a shift from the usual teacher-focused learning environment to one which is learner-centered where students take the lead in identifying their own strengths and weaknesses and develop a learning plan to address any identified knowledge gaps and weaknesses.

The development of a learning plan will introduce the students to process of developing learning goals and learning objectives, as well as identifying criteria for determining “successful” completion of the learning activity. Putting students at this center of this process will facilitate their autonomy as a learner seeking to meet their own individual learning needs. This will facilitate the life-long learning skills essential to their career as a physician.

Both coaches and students will be provided with a learning plan package that includes the learning template and a “Tips and Tools guide” for developing a learning plan. An example of the learning plan materials has been provided in Appendix A.

The Self-Regulated Learning

self regulated learningFostering a student’s abilities to integrate learning is one of the most important goals for higher education. The need for health professionals to engage in effective self-regulated learning is well documented and pressing, given the links between continuing medical education and the quality of health care.

Although the definitions and the usage of self-assessment and self-regulated learning do vary in the literature, we will be viewing self-regulation as a two-step process:

  • self-assessment of knowledge and skills
  • self-regulated learning to address areas of concern or weakness

Self-regulated learning is an active, constructive process whereby learners set goals for their learning and attempt to monitor, regulate and controls their cognition, motivation, and behavior, guided and constrained by their goals and contextual features on the environment.

The Self-Regulation Rubric

The purpose of the self-regulation rubric is to answer the question of ‘to what extent is your medical student developing the skills, abilities and attitudes’ desired, with the purpose of providing forward-looking feedback. This is in contrast to a rubric that asks the question of whether ‘the medical student has achieved the required skills, abilities and attitudes that collectively represent self—regulated learning. In essence, it becomes a way for the medical student and Academic Portfolio Coach to track progress and development of skills, abilities and attitudes.

The Self-Regulation Rubric is a two-dimensional rubric that focuses on self-directed learning and self-assessment and personal growth. Within each dimension, we have identified skill/behaviors that “define” the development of student from “Level 1 (introductory) through to “Entrustable (mastery). The levels are loosely associated with years; i.e. Level 1 is an introductory level of skills/behaviors that we can expect to be associated with a Year 1 student.

In determining the current level of your student, the Coach should look for a general fit with the rubric. Students may fall between two levels, and Academic Portfolio Coaches should use their judgement to choose which criteria, within the developmental area, best describes the level of performance of the student. There are no formal grades associated with the formative portfolio so please provide the student with the feedback they need to develop as self-regulated learners.

Feedback and The Educational Alliance
Providing students with a long-term Academic Portfolio Coach will facilitate the establishment of a solid educational alliance that will promote the integration of feedback and support the development of self-monitoring and self-reflection in our students.

Academic support:

  • If Coach and student have identified an area of weakness that requires some academic support, the Coach should develop a learning plan with the student and encourage the student to reach out to the specific component director for tutoring opportunities.
  • If your student has received any notice(s) of concern and/or the Coach feels that the student is struggling academically, the Coach should work with the student to develop a learning plan to address the areas of concern and the Coach should connect the student with the appropriate course or component director. The Course/component director will work with Student Affairs to determine the problem and connect the student with the appropriate tutoring support.

Electives (TBD)

Clerkship Duty Hours Policy