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Though still early in its pilot, IU School of Medicine’s Scholarly Concentrations Program has realized significant progress.

Scholarly Concentrations Enters Year Two

Statewide Scholarly concentrations graphic

Though still early in its pilot, IU School of Medicine’s Scholarly Concentrations Program has realized significant progress. Since its launch in early 2019, program offerings and medical student participation have expanded greatly. Scholarly Concentrations provide medical students statewide more options to participate in an extracurricular program designed to enhance their educational experience through a parallel curriculum delivered during their four years of study. More than 220 students are enrolled in 17 scholarly concentrations, about half at regional campuses. An additional 125, primarily first-year medical students, have indicated their intention to enroll in Spring 2021 or began a concentration this academic year. The first six students will graduate this May.

“Concentrations are a fantastic way for MD students to customize their education, receive unique mentorship opportunities, and engage in experiences that lead to multidisciplinary scholarship and community engagement,” said Deb Birnbaum, MBA, who directs the Scholarly Concentrations Program. “Students get to study a topic of interest, complete a scholarly project and most will produce a manuscript to be submitted for publication.”

“Being in the Public Health Scholarly Concentration program has provided me with invaluable interdisciplinary education,” said Rebekah Roll, MS 4 and one of the first to complete the program. “I know I will carry this knowledge forward with me to provide better care for, and with, my patients.”

Students who successfully complete the required course work, scholarly project and scholarly product earn two non-clinical elective credits toward graduation and a Scholarly Concentration designation, suitable for their curriculum vitae and other professional documentation. Certificates will be presented at graduation.

“I could not be more pleased with the response to the Scholarly Concentrations program by our faculty and our students,” said Executive Associate Dean for Educational Affairs Paul Wallach, MD. “Participation in a Scholarly Concentration enhances professional growth and development and can help students stand out in the competition for residency positions.”

The program was launched in May 2019 with 11 concentrations representing all nine campuses. Six additional concentrations were subsequently approved to start in 2020 or 2021, expanding the program to 17 concentrations. Thirteen are hosted at one of the School’s nine campuses and four are considered “statewide”; all draw upon faculty expertise and community characteristics of each campus. Topics are distinct from residencies and are not well covered in the core medical curriculum. The program has also allowed for expanded partnerships with Purdue University’s Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering, the IU Kelley School of Business and Fairbanks School of Public Health. New partnerships were established with the world-renowned Kinsey Institute on the Bloomington campus and the Medical Humanities and Health Studies Program in the School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI.

During the first two years of the Scholarly Concentrations Program, both current and prospective students have had the opportunity to apply and enroll in the program. For regional campuses, the program is part of a strategy to shine a spotlight on areas of excellence and unique opportunities to attract and retain students for all four years of medical school. The invitation-only Priority Placement Program offered admission to IU School of Medicine Class of 2024 and a regional campus scholarly concentration for four years. Thirty-four matriculated, with an average GPA of 3.8 and 512 MCAT. This results in 9 percent of the class choosing a regional campus and its scholarly concentration.