Optional Enrichment Electives (OEE)
Optional Enrichment Electives are elective courses offered in addition to the
regular, required and elective/selective curriculum, which the student
elects to take. Optional, unlike regular electives, in that the students may choose not to take any of them.
The courses are scheduled during the "independent study" time
in the schedule.
Participation in these courses is mentioned in the dean's letter and appears on the transcript by name of course, with two hash marks (##) in the "grades" column and a notation on the transcript as: "## Optional Enrichment Course. The student has elected this course in addition to the regular curriculum requirements."
Requires approval by the Educational Policy Committee in order to be so designated and appear on the transcript.
Failure to complete course requirements results simply in the course not being listed on the student's transcript. It is not possible to "fail" such a course. A listing of current Optional Enrichment Courses is as follows:
- Adoption and Foster Care: Considerations for Medical Practice
- Clinical/Translational Research Pathway
- Complementary and Alternative Medicine
- Exercise Medicine
- Global Health Topics in Action
- History of Medicine
- Medical Creative Writing
- Pathway Program: Serving Underserved and Multicultural Populations
- Understanding and Improving Our Health Care System
Adoption and Foster Care: Considerations for Medical Practice
This elective is sponsored by the Center for Adoption Research. The course is designed to help students develop their clinical skills to work with children in foster care, foster parents, birthparents, adoptive parents, and individuals who were adopted; to introduce awareness of the biological, psychological, and social issues related to adoption and foster care; to provide an opportunity for participants to consider their own attitudes about adoption and foster care; to introduce awareness of community resources available for patient education and referral; and to allow students to consider research directions related to adoption and foster care. The course meets for 8 weeks for 2.0 hours per week, and is taught by faculty from both the Center for Adoption Research and the Medical School. For further information on this elective contact the Center for Adoption Research.
American Sign Language
This elective offers students beginner and intermediate level of American Sign Language (ASL), a visual/gestural language used by Deaf people in the United States and Canada. Students will develop receptive and expressive skills in ASL. The students will learn basic rules of grammar, general vocabulary, vocabulary specific to the medical setting, and the use of facial expression, and body movements. The course will also focus on the proper use of a qualified interpreter in the medical setting. There will be role-playing of medical situations and of how to resolve some communication problems. There will be class discussions, guest lectures, and students will have the opportunity to meet a few Deaf people from the Deaf Community.
Basic Skills for Working with Smokers: An Online Training Course for Health Professional Students
The purpose of this course is to prepare students in the health professions: to educate patients about the health risks of tobacco use; motivate those who seek treatment; and advise patients about basic treatment strategies, including pharmacotheraphy. Upon course completion, a student will be able to administer a brief intervention using the "5 As". The course provides an overview of the information and skills necessary to treat nicotine dependance.
The course includes two components. The first component is an eight-module online course that provides background on the health consequences of smoking, appropriate use of pharmacotherapy, and information about how to conduct a brief 5A intervention for patients who use tobacco. The second component is "putting the course into action" at the student's preceptor's office. The student also will observe the systems used in the preceptor's office for tobacco education and smoking cessation and complete an assessment of them.
Care of the Seriously Ill
The “heart and soul” of this elective is the visits you will schedule with your patients. However, much of the success of this component of the course is beyond our control: it is difficult to find 50± terminally ill patients who want to participate in this course, some patients die before they are contracted some become too sick to meet their students, etc. The main goal of this course is accepting and understanding the ultimate reality of the human condition: we are mortal. By the end of the course each student should acquire new skills and knowledge, and continually practiced (and examined) values and attitudes. In this course we hope to give you multiple opportunities to explore, to practice, to discuss and to reflect on how physicians might “Promote Excellence in the End of Life Care.”
Clinical/Translational Research Pathway
This course will introduce methods and concepts in clinical/translational research to medical students and to provide a training platform in the basics of clinical/translational research through a longitudinal, structured program throughout the four years of the medical curriculum.
Complementary and Alternative Medicine
The goal of this elective is to expose allopathically-trained medical students to various complementary and alternative treatment modalities. This exposure will allow future physicians to better communicate with patients about complementary and alternative medicine. It will also help future physicians make better-informed medical decisions regarding patients who may already be involved in, or may benefit from, such modalities.
Specific objectives include:
- Knowledge of the underlying principles of each treatment modality
Knowledge of clinical applications of each treatment modality
Knowledge of Evidence Based CAM
Awareness of the cultural relevancy of alternative treatment and practices
Appreciation of current research topics involving complementary and alternative medicine
Familiarity with some available resources for physicians and patients
This course is meant to explore topics in the field of sports medicine. In a hands-on way, we would like to integrate students' personal interest in exercise with an academic component including anatomy, physiology, psychology, and wellness.
Global Health Topics in Action
The goal of this course is to introduce students to major global health topics and issues surrounding global health work to increase their ability to advocate and build awareness as future health professionals. The first goal is to expose students to the basic prevalence and incidence of major global health diseases including childhood illness, maternal mortality, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, chronic disease, and water and sanitation. The second goal is to encourage students to think critically on issues and themes in global health today including community-based approaches to global health, donor funding and its impact on programmatic interventions and alignment with disease burden, and incorporating evidence-based solutions to global health challenges. Each session will highlight a major global health disease topic with a special focus on an issue or theme in global health.
History of Medicine
This elective is intended to incorporate the history of medicine into the process by which medical students engage in their own professional indentity formation. Its goals include helping students to acquire a deeper understanding of the historical context for the pressing issues of today's health care system. Through a better understanding of medical history, students can gain needed perspective on the social, professional, and moral climate in which they will be practicing.
Maternal Child Health
This elective allows students to understand both areas of OB/GYN and Pediatrics by following the mother through the term of her pregnancy. Each student is assigned 2 patients due to deliver within the 12 week time period of the elective. During that time period the student will be responsible for:
- Attending all pre-natal and pediatric visits during the 12 weeks.
- Attending the labor and delivery of each mother.
- On call 24 hours to mother for questions.
Medical Creative Writing
This elective will allow you to explore different forms of writing - essays, creative nonfiction, poetry and short fiction - to sharpen your skills of observation, description, and analysis, and to enhance your ability to understand, from your own perspective and that of others, the experience of becoming a doctor. The course meets a total of seven (7) sessions. Each session is 1.5 hours in duration.
Medical Interviewing in Spanish
This elective allows students to improve their abilities to communicate with Spanish speaking patients. Students meet in groups with standardized patients and trained medical interpreters to practice interviewing skills. Students self evaluate into 3 groups; beginner, intermediate, or advanced. The beginner group has 45 minutes of grammar instruction, followed by 45 minutes of practicing interviewing skills with a standardized patient and interpreter. Intermediate students spend the first hour practicing interviewing, and spend the last 30 minutes receiving grammar instruction. The advanced group spends the entire 1 ½ hour practicing interviewing skills. Students also attend 2 cultural sessions during the course of the academic year, and must spend 1 hour shadowing and interpreter in a clinical setting.
*Students must have some knowledge of Spanish, cannot take as a beginning Spanish course.
Pathway Program: Serving Underserved and Multicultural Populations
The main goals of this elective are to develop the linguistic and cultural competence of pre-clinical medical students. Cultural competence, in this context, can be defined “as a process that requires individuals and systems to develop and expand their ability to know about, to be sensitive to, and have respect for cultural diversity.”
Specific goals for students include:
Develop the abilities to speak the language of a prevalent newcomer population, immigrant, refugee, and undocumented) in Massachusetts:
Develop cultural sensititivity, through first hand-experiences, to the hardships of a new country;
Develop understanding of the culture and the health beliefs of a newcomer growing problem the face in accessing health care and other services in the United States
Promote a career preference to serve underserved and multicultural populations
Roads to Recovery: Substance Abuse from Patients' Perspective
Physicians often the medical ramifications of substance abuse, but not necessarily the reasons it began, the criminal activity to obtain the substances, the effects on the family and the efforts of local community organizations. This course will give students a greater understanding of addiction and recovery from the perspective of patients and their families. This elective will consist of two components: an on-campus speaker series and off-campus enrichment trips. Faculty, community organizations and patients will give students a broad view of substance abuse that extends far beyond the clinic.
The goals of this course are to help students:
1. Gain a greater understanding of addiction and recovery from the perspective of patients
and their families.
2. Recognize abstinence and recovery as life-long commitments and the role of physicians in
supporting patients’ efforts to achieve them.
3. Become familiar with local and regional resources for assisting patients in achieving and
4. Experience the positive aspects of working with patients with addiction by listening to
patients talk about successful recovery as well as providers who enjoy taking care of
patients with addiction problems.
Rural Health Scholars
The goal of this course is to foster medical students' interest in rural health issues and to equip them and encourage them to practice in rural or small areas.
To identify and then nurture the interest of medical students who would like to pursue a career in rural health.
To help participating students acquire the skills and develop the attitudes necessary to become effective physicians in rural and small town communities.
To expose students to the important linkages between medical practice and public health in developing healthy rural communities.
To foster relationships among student Scholars and introduce them to others in the medical, public health, and governmental sectors who are working to meet the needs of rural communities.
To introduce students to physicians who are practicing in rural and small town communities in Massachusetts and New England.
Students as Educators
This elective will provide a formal curriculum for students seeking to become student educators at UMMS. The focus of this elective will be on the teaching and learning process. It will help student acquire important knowledge and skills in these areas, toward enhancing their teaching skills. The elective has been designed to include interactive and inter-professional experiences, observations, discussions and debriefings, and will include topics such as learner assessment, procedures and clinical teaching, and giving feedback. Students will have the opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills learned throughout the course to an end-of-course teaching experience in the simulation center or in the Physician, Patient, & Society course, depending in the track selected. The course will provide a pool of student educators for other foundational and clinical science courses in which students as educators are needed, and it will be this group of students that will be called upon for teaching opportunities as they arise (e.g., in the simulation center, PPS).
The Bigger Picture: Health Issues Affecting the Community of Worcester
The goal of this optional enrichment course is to expose medical and nursing students at UMass to the health needs of the community in which they live, study, and train, with a particular focus on underserved communities. In traditional medical training, students see only individual patients, and are not exposed to the problems of the community within the broader context. The Bigger Picture optional enrichment course aims to augment the elements of the University of Massachusetts Medical School curriculum which prepare students to address the needs future patients’ needs holistically, such as the unique Community Health Clerkship (CHC), the Patient, Physician and Society course, and the “Physician as Patient and Community Advocate” core competency, among numerous other opportunities.
Understanding and Improving Our Health Care System
This elective will provide students will a basic understanding of how the health care system work, as well as integrate health care policy issues to prompt physician advocacy. This elective couples lectures with clinical correlations and allows students to ask the questions that we all have about how the system works. This elective will address access to health care, rising costs, current events, policy, and advocacy among other things.
Wilderness Medicine and Recreational Emergencies
This elective will teach first and second year students to identify and manage common injuries and illnesses in wilderness and recreational settings. The principles and practice of wilderness medicine will be presented through a combination of classroom-based didactic sesssions and outdoors-based simulated medical scenerios. Participants will learn to provide care as a team, and experiential learning will be stressed throughout. The course will be led by 4th year students, with additional instruction by UMass ED residents and attendings. Those who take the course will have the opportunity to create a longitudinal experience in wilderness medicine during their 4th year by teaching the course themselves and/or enrolling in the wilderness medicine elective, for which they will receive preferential placement.
For further information and questions regarding Optional Enrichment Electives please contact OME OEE at: OMEOEE@umassmed.edu