Skip to main content

Preclerkship Electives

There is no elective requirement during the preclerkship years; however, students have the opportunity to take several courses approved for graduation elective credit. Please note that these courses cannot be taken during the clinical years for graduation elective credit.

A minimum of one, 4-week clinical elective will be required of all students in their 4th year regardless of the amount of elective credit accrued during the preclerkship years.

Students participating in preclerkship electives must earn a minimum grade of "C" or "Pass" in all required medical school coursework in order to register for, or continue with, these electives. Students not meeting this standard will not be permitted to register for, or will be withdrawn from, the course or program upon confirmation of a non-passing grade in a course. No partial credit will be awarded to students who are required to withdraw.

Participation in these electives is limited as follows:

Longitudinal Electives

May participate in no more than one (1).

  • Combined Accelerated Program in Psychiatry (CAPP)
  • Primary Care Track (PCT)
  • Social Justice Track (SJT)

Other Electives

If concurrent with a longitudinal elective, may participate in no more than one (1); otherwise, may participate in no more than two (2).

  • Medical Spanish
  • Humanism Symposium
  • Critical Issues in Health Care
  • Critical Issues in Global Health
  • Role of Personal Genomes in Medicine
  • Occupational and Environmental Medicine

Medical Spanish (SPAN 547)

Recognizing the demand for bilingual health care professionals, the School of Medicine offers Medical Spanish as an elective course for credit to first year medical students. The 10-week course is offered each semester for students with at least an intermediate level of Spanish speaking proficiency and is designed to elevate their skill level from lay conversation to the ability to conduct a full medical interview. Through classroom didactics the course focuses on medical vocabulary acquisition, comprehension, and insight into cultural nuances that impact the physician-patient interaction with the goal of helping them to become physician who are able to communicate clearly with Spanish-speaking patients who are not fluent in English. To receive credit, students must complete 40 weeks of Medical Spanish and 80 hours of practical experience where they apply their skills at Spanish-speaking clinics in the area.

The Medical Spanish curriculum is designed to be systems-based and parallels the students’ block schedule as much as possible. During the first year, students learn terminology and practice their ability to conduct a medical interview focusing on obtaining the chief complaint, history of present illness, review of systems, social and family history that may be pertinent to anything from cardiovascular disease, obstetrics and gynecology to gastrointestinal pathology. Second year medical students have the opportunity to strengthen these skills as well as learn to conduct a physical examination using appropriate direction in Spanish, as well as deliver recommendations and treatment plans in Spanish.

Medical Spanish was developed by Hugo Gonzalez-Serratos, MD, PhD, then Professor of Physiology. "One of my goals was to teach medical students culturally competent practical skills for them to be able to interview our growing number of Spanish speaking patients and their families," said Dr. Gonzalez, who led the team of bilingual course instructors until his recent passing. The course is now taught by Sandra Quezada, M.D., M.S., a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and current clinical instructor in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

By the end of the course students should be able to initiate and maintain conversations in Spanish, interview Spanish-speaking patients in their own language , and know and understand the cultural differences that affect the way physicians and patients communicate. Medical Spanish students are preferentially assigned to clinics and practices with Spanish-speaking patients for their fourth- year area health education center (AHEC) rotation.

"In addition to the obvious benefits to Latino patients and their families, medical students with bilingual ability are attractive to prospective employers," says Donna L. Parker, MD, associate dean for Student Affairs. "In states such as California, Texas and Florida, the ability to speak Spanish is almost a job requirement." With a 101% increase in the number of Hispanic Marylanders from 2000 to 2010 according to U.S. Census, this skill will undoubtedly become increasingly more relevant and vital to health care providers in the Maryland area.

Course Director

Sandra Quezada, M.D.

Combined Accelerated Program in Psychiatry (PSYH 548)

The Combined Accelerated Program in Psychiatry (CAPP) was initiated in 1970 by the Department of Psychiatry as a major effort to explore new approaches to medical education. This behavioral science-psychiatry track allows selected students to enroll in basic psychiatric specialty training, beginning in and concurrent with the Freshman year and continuing through the four years of medical school. In addition to participating in the psychiatry program, students are required to fulfill all of the requirements of a standard four-year medical curriculum. In admitting students to the program, there is no requirement for any pledge of a career interest in psychiatry.

Students are selected from among applicants with an interest in the social and behavioral aspects of medicine. Twelve students are admitted to the program per year. The track provides, from the first month of the Freshman year, an unfolding progression of combined didactic and clinical experiences in the behavioral sciences and in clinical psychiatry. Most teaching occurs in the 12-member group, seminar-style, and is conducted by senior faculty members. Completion of this four-year program provides two months of Senior-year elective credit and enables the student to graduate from medical school with a foundation of knowledge and skills that is envisioned to be at least equivalent to that provided by one year of traditional residency training in psychiatry. Only about 1/3 of the CAPP students go into Psychiatry.

A maximum of two months senior elective credit will be awarded to students who successfully complete CAPP.

Course Director

Ann Hackman, M.D.


Brendella Hawkins

Primary Care Track (PCT 547)

The Primary Care Track (PCT) will allow students who show an early interest in primary care to better determine their ultimate career path. This longitudinal tract allows for mentorship by family medicine physicians, general internists and general pediatricians while providing the interested student with an opportunity to learn via ongoing relationships with patients.

Course Directors

Richard Colgan, M.D.
Family & Community Medicine

Adam Spanier, M.D.

Nikkita Southall, M.D.
Internal Medicine


Barbara Perez Marquez

Social Justice Track (SJT 547)

The Social Justice Track is a four-year elective course that will offer students the opportunity to learn and better understand the meaning of social justice. In this track, we will incorporate an understanding of what social justice means in different populations, evaluate the social factors that increase disparities, and discuss ways we can effectively address these issues. This curriculum will be tailored to students and will intertwine societal issues and social determinants of health. Educating and exposing students to issues that marginalized groups face is important in developing skills to treat all patients effectively. This track will incorporate guest lecturers, class assigned readings, discussion blogs, and service learning. A themed lecture series will occur each semester that will include six 2-hour lectures per semester.

Course Director

Darlene Robinson, M.D., M.P.H.
Emergency Medicine

Role of Personal Genomes in Medicine (MEDC 540)

Prerequisites: Successful completion of Year 1 curriculum

This course will expose trainees to the use of personal genetic and genomic information in clinical medicine.  It will cover principles of advanced medical genetics and genomics, complex disorders, laboratory design and execution, as well as ethical, legal, and social issues associated with decision-making, consent, and individualized genomic testing. The laboratory component will afford hands-on experience to allow an appreciation of genomic testing and bioinformatics.  This will include exposure to DNA extraction and quantitation, microarray technology using a drug metabolism panel (on their own or an anonymous sample of DNA);   and an opportunity to see ‘next-generation’ DNA sequencing using a panel for cancer and/or other common adult conditions.  The data will be used to discuss how identification of specific mutations can impact the choice of treatment for cancer patients, but also challenge students to investigate how information about an individual’s genome will profoundly change how a physician may manage health and disease in the near future.
Number of Students: 5-20 (rising MSII students but MSIV may also be interested, but appropriate for both.)
Time of Year Available:  Summer (June/July)
Hours: 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. (with assignments, lab experience, etc.)

Course Director

Miriam G. Blitzer, Ph.D.
Professor and Head, Division of Human Genetics, Pediatrics


Rhea Cosentino
Program Manager, Program in Personalized and Genomic Medicine

Humanism Symposium (MSPR 500)

The Humanism Symposium is an elective course that offers medical students, SOM faculty, and members of the Baltimore community the opportunity to examine the full range of what it means to be a humanistic physician. The course is led by a select group of junior and senior students (by application only) with faculty leadership from Drs. Luneburg, Kaysin, Thom, and Shah. Humanism meets for 2.5 hours once per week for 16 sessions from October to April. It addresses topics across specialties, from medical ethics to cultural differences, spirituality to physician self-care. Over the six-month course, students will engage in roundtable discussions, learn about the intersection of art and medicine at the Baltimore Museum of Art, get acquainted with their peers and the city of Baltimore through organized outings, and design a final creative project. This course enables and encourages students to explore the joys and challenges of medicine and to strengthen their sense of empathy and duty as they face the rigors of medical school. For the faculty who lead classes or participate in sessions, we hope it will serve as a reminder of the compassion that the practice of medicine demands.

Course Directors

Paige Luneburg, M.D.
Assistant Professor

Alexander Kaysin, M.D.
Assistant Professor

Critical Issues in Health Care (PREV 645) On hold, will resume Spring 2022

This course is open to students from the Schools of Law, Medicine, Social Work, Nursing, Pharmacy, Dentistry and the graduate schools at UMB and UMBC. The course is designed to: (1) provide students with an opportunity to reflect on the legal, ethical and policy issues surrounding a number of health care delivery problems; (2) expose participants to the basic skills necessary to analyze problems from a legal, ethical and policy perspective; and (3) offer participants from different disciplines an opportunity to interact and share information and perspectives about their professions with one another. A variety of teaching techniques, including case studies, simulations, and video clips will be used to explore such topics as medical malpractice, rights of patients to refuse treatment, informed consent and substituted consent in medical decision making, regulation of experimental drugs, and health care reform. The course will be taught by faculty from a variety of disciplines. During the course, students will have an opportunity to work in multidisciplinary teams to analyze a particular health care problem and develop a position paper on a health care policy issue. More...

Course Director

Diane Hoffmann, J.D.

Critical Issues in Global Health (PH 727) (previous PREV 664)


None for medical students: PH 603 and PH 608 for MPH students only


University of Maryland School of Medicine

Description and Goals

Learners: Interprofessional graduate students from the SOM, MPH, School of Nursing, Pharmacy, School of Social Work and School of Law.

Overview: This course is designed to give advanced, interprofessional and MPH students an overview of the global health problems facing the world today. The World Health Organization's (WHO) Social Determinants of Health Model will be applied to teach students to critically analyze the root social and organizational determinants of global population health and equip them with the essential tools and skills needed to navigate the world of global health. Drivers of global health outcomes will be examined including globalization, the political economy, governance, global health actors, health systems and workers, and the cross-cutting issues of gender inequality, climate change, conflict, migration and refugees. Using seminars, lectures, readings, case studies and interactive assignments the course will leverage interprofessional faculty across the UMB campus (e.g. Law, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Nursing, Medicine, Social Work, and Graduate School) as well as external global health experts from international agencies.

Goals: This course is designed to give advanced, interprofessional and MPH students an overview of the global health problems facing the world today.

Objectives: Course Learning Objectives

A. Analyze the roles, relationships, and resources of the entities influencing global health.

  1. Identify the major finders influencing global health
  2. Classify the function and impact of entities influencing global health
  3. Identify major public health efforts to reduce inequities in global health (such as Sustainable Development Goals and Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria)
  4. Describe the interactions among political and economic history, power, participation and engagement globally

Additional Information

Elective credit will be granted for one or the other PH 723 or PH 727, but not both.

Number of Students


Time of Year Available



Evenings ~ Face to face and/or virtual-if needed

Course Director

Yolanda Ogbolu, Ph.D., CRNP, Chair PPEP


Nancy McDowell
Program Manager


Global Burden of Disease (PH 723)


None for medical students; PH 603 and PH 608 for MPH students only


University of Maryland School of Medicine

Description and Goals

Learners: Interprofessional graduate students from the SOM, MPH, School of Nursing, Pharmacy, School of Social Work and School of Law

Overview: This course is designed to provide advanced, interprofessional and MPH students an overview of the global burden of disease focusing on communicable and non-communicable diseases facing the world today. Topics central to global non-communicable and communicable disease will be addressed and the impact they will have on health outcomes globally. Modes of transmission, geographic distribution and prevention will be considered from an epidemiological perspective. Using the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals this course will also teach students to critically assess the burden and causes of desease morbidity and mortality globally and equip them with the essential tools and skills needed. The course will use seminars, lectures, readings, case studies and interactive assignments while leveraging interprofessional faculty across the UMB campus (e.g. Law, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Nursing, Medicine, Social Work, and Graduate School) as well as external global health experts from local and international agencies.

Goals: This course is designed to give advanced, interprofessional and MPH students an overview of the global burden of disease focusing on communicable and non-communicable disease challenges facing the world today

A. Assess the burden of communicable and non-communicable causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide

  1. Identify the relationships among patters of morbidity, mortality, and disability with demographic and other factors in shaping the circumstances of the population of a specified community, country, or region.
  2. Critically analyze how demographic and other major factors can influence patterns of morbidity, mortality, and disability in a defined population.
  3. Describe the major causes of morbidity and mortality around the world, and assess how the risk for desease varies with regions.

Additional Comments

Elective credit will be granted for one or the other PH 723 or PH 727, but not both

Number of Students


Time of Year Available



Evenings ~ Face to face and/or virtual - if needed

Course Director

Charlotte Nwogwugwu, PhD, MPH
Assistant Professor


Nancy McDowell
Program Manager

Occupational and Environmental Medicine (OEM 547)




  • Field trips TBD
  • Movie night seminars at homes of faculty


“I think my work caused my cancer.”
“Would you please sign this disability paperwork?”
“I got lead poisoning at work. Could my child be at risk?”
“How soon can I get back to my truck driving work after this heart attack?”
“I just found out our well water is contaminated and I’m pregnant. Is my baby safe?”
“The work I do makes my back ache.”
“Can this employee safely operate a forklift while taking opioid medication?”

Most physicians, no matter what specialty, will wind up making decisions related to their patients’ work life. Even though most such decisions are made by doctors who are not specialists in occupational and environmental medicine, there is very little training in how to make such decisions, which can have a large impact on patients.

In this new two-year elective, the first of its kind in the nation, you will learn how to think about your patients’ work as an important social determinant of health. You will consider case studies involving the organ systems you are studying, to apply what you are learning to clinical situations. You will learn to evaluate work and environmental hazards as causes of illness. You will learn important principles of prevention, including how to prevent avoidable work disability. Considering cases as sentinel events, you will learn to apply population health principles to prevent similar cases in others, which will include issues such as reporting and interacting with public health agencies. Case studies will map to the MS 1/2 curriculum, for example, when learning about brain and behavior, we will apply this information to decision making around opioid prescriptions and impact on work. When learning about the heart, we will discuss decision making around returning a commercial truck driver to the road following a heart attack and consider issues around federal regulations and liability.

This elective emphasizes adult learning principles and has minimal lecture content. In the first year, there are 60 hours of content, which will include structured self-study problem-solving exercises, interactive e-learning modules, some reading, with six monthly 3-hour small group seminars from November through April. Seminars will include some lectures (including guest faculty experts in organ or system of interest) but will largely consist of team-based learning and presentations of topics. First year education will also include three field trips (workplace walkthrough or other field experiences such as Workers’ Compensation Commission hearings), with advance preparation and debriefings. Second year will have 40 hours of content similar to first year but minus the field trips. Second year 3-hour small group seminars will be held monthly from August through January. Both first and second year students will come together for “movie night” seminars at faculty homes, including dinner.

Examples of some of the self-study e-learning content:

Movie nights will feature selections with occupational or environmental medicine themes and will include dinner and cameo appearances (in person or via web meeting) of experts in the issues addressed in the films. These will be held in the homes of core and guest faculty and will often include Occupational Medicine or Preventive Medicine residents rotating with the Division at the time.

Additional Comments

This course requires a two-year commitment over first and second years. First year students are expected to attend 3 Movie Night seminars and second year students are expected to attend one.


Marianne Cloeren, MD, MPH

Revised: July 29, 2021