Senior Year Extramural Electives

AAMC Visiting Student Application Service Information

General Information

Extramural electives are electives that are taken at other medical schools or sites. You should discuss all plans regarding extramural electives with your clinical assistant dean, and obtain his/her approval. You are responsible for making all specific arrangements. The following procedures pertain to standard length (4 weeks) electives taken at LCME (Liaison Committee on Medical Education) accredited schools (USA medical schools).

No more than 8 weeks of away (extramural) electives will count towards the 20 week graduation requirement.

Restrictions on Who May Take Extramural Electives

Students on probation during the senior year of medical school are required to complete their electives at the SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University or a major affiliate hospital. Extramural (away) electives may be completed only with the prior approval of the student’s clinical assistant dean. A student on probation for the senior year must also meet on a monthly basis with his/her clinical assistant dean.

At the discretion of the Academic Promotions Committee, academic and/or clinical probation is noted in the Dean’s letter and/or the official college transcript.

Procedure for Applying For an Extramural (Away) Elective and Requesting Approval to Receive Clinical Elective Credit

To Apply to the Host Institution

  1. If the Institution is not a VSAS school, call or e-mail the institution at which the elective is offered and obtain an application. The AAMC Extramural Electives Compendium lists all 134 medical schools (which includes 4 in Puerto Rico as well as 17 others in Canada) and their contact information for doing electives at their institution and is available on-line only.

    The AAMC Extramural Electives Compendium is a database on the web that students are able to sort by geographic location and which also has links directly to each school’s visiting student web site.
  2. Bring the application to the Office of the Registrar for required certification, transcript, HIPAA certificate, and letter of good standing. Follow any other instructions in the visiting student packet from the institution. Most requests can usually be filled in one business day.
  3. Health Insurance Certification. Many institutions also require certification that you have health insurance coverage. The Office of the Registrar can certify that you have such coverage since all medical students are required to have health insurance. Either bring in the form the visiting school requires you to have filled out, or the Office of the Registrar can provide you with a letter.
  4. Health Records. Proof of immunization is also requested by most institutions. Your health records are kept in the Student Health Services. Letters certifying immunizations or health clearance must be obtained through the Health Service.
  5. All students must be covered for malpractice insurance in order to take an elective at an off-campus institution. To confirm whether the institution to which you are applying is covered for malpractice/liability insurance, check the Extramural Elective Agreements listing in the Office of the Registrar. If the institution is not listed, please inform the Office of the Registrar and they will make every effort to secure an agreement with that institution. If the institution is listed but does NOT cover our students — you will NOT be permitted to do an extramural elective at that institution.
  • All students must follow-up with the Office of the Registrar to make sure that a malpractice insurance agreement is in place for the institution they wish to attend. Every effort will be made to contact you by e-mail if a malpractice insurance agreement cannot be worked out between the institution you wish to attend and SUNY Downstate.

To Request Approval for Clinical Elective Credit

  1. Once you receive approval from the institution in writing, you need to receive approval for clinical credit. You can pick up the Proposal for Extramural/Tailor-Made Form from the Office of the Registrar to request approval and to register for the elective.
  2. Fill out the form in its entirety, including faculty or institutional information that indicates where the Office of the Registrar should send your grade/evaluation form and attach the letter of acceptance. You may be asked for a course description, especially if the elective is not being taken at an LCME accredited medical school.
  3. You will need to obtain two signatures, the corresponding department chair’s signature (i.e. if you are trying to do an Oncology elective at Memorial Sloan Kettering, you will need the SUNY Downstate Department of Medicine chair’s signature) and your clinical assistant dean’s signature.
  4. Return the form to the Office of the Registrar no later than one month prior to the start of your elective otherwise late fees will be assessed. The course will be created and will be added to your schedule. An evaluation form will be prepared for you and you may pick it up from the Office of the Registrar at least one week prior to the start date. You'll get an email when it is ready. You will take it with you in a signed sealed envelope to the visiting institution to be completed on your behalf . If you fail to return the form prior to your elective start date, you will not receive credit for it. There are no exceptions to this rule.

International Electives

You may take an elective abroad for academic credit (provided that the corresponding department at SUNY Downstate approves it as an extramural elective), or you can complete the experience on your own time (non-credit).

Due to the additional time required for overseas mail delivery (always use air-mail), you are advised to start these procedures at least six (6) months in advance. Also, contact the United States Department of State for their travel advisory for the country you intend to visit, and contact the Centers for Disease Control and/or the World Health Organization for a list of any additional vaccines or other health precautions you should obtain before you start your elective. You will also need to make certain that your health insurance has a "repatriation" section (the SUNY Downstate student health insurance plan has repatriation coverage). If it does not, "repatriation" insurance is available for a low cost from the SUNY International Student insurance (it also covers US students going abroad). This may be purchased through the Bursar’s Office. You must provide proof of this coverage before your elective will be approved. You will also be required to sign an "Agreement and Release" form, found in the Office of the Registrar. You will be required to meet with the Dean of Students to review these guidelines.

It is advisable to allow time during the months of November-January for interviewing at your residency programs. Therefore, the ideal time to participate in an away elective would be in April/May of your senior year.

How do you arrange for an international elective? You can contact a SUNY Downstate faculty member who may be from the country you are interested in. He/she may have colleagues or contacts in that country who can help you set up an elective. Or, you can write directly to a hospital department in the country you are interested in, explain what you are interested in doing, and ask for the name of someone at the hospital that might be interested in serving as your preceptor. The AMSA website has useful resource information about international electives.

Our College of Medicine (through the School of Public Health) offers an overseas elective- Global Health in Developing Countries - in the senior year for a limited number of students. Application is through the School of Public Health by December of your third year.

Please note that you have the option to participate in an overseas experience on your own. You can also have the person you work with send a letter of recommendation for inclusion in your academic file. You must provide proof that medical malpractice/liability insurance is not required.

Senior Year Research Electives

To obtain academic credit, the length of a research elective is generally limited to 8 weeks of full-time effort. If you are interested in a research elective, you should develop a brief, written research plan in consultation with a faculty mentor. Attach the plan, signed by the faculty mentor, to the Extramural/Tailor-made Elective form, signed by the department chair of the research department and your clinical assistant dean, and submit to the Office of the Registrar. Your plan must include:

  1. Specific aims. State the aims and discuss concisely the goals you expect to accomplish during the elective.
  2. Methods. Include the population to be investigated, controls, number of subjects, use of animals, study protocols, and techniques should be described, specific methods of statistical analysis, etc. Please note that any research involving human or animal subjects needs approval by the appropriate institutional committee prior to the start of the project.
  3. Significance and justification of the research.
  4. The faculty mentor's signature indicating approval of the plan. Your faculty mentor will be sent a course evaluation form that must be completed and returned to the Office of the Registrar for credit to be awarded.