Clinical Distinction

Your future, by you

Comparing Clerkship Tracks to Specialty Tracks

You get out what you put in. Specialty Tracks are definitely more work than a Clerkship track, but the benefits are much more too.

Let’s look at the differences:

Clerkship Track:

A clerkship track requires that you find a clinical site willing to take you for four weeks. You show up and you do whatever the attending asks of you – just like a core rotation except you get to pick where! It’s a great opportunity and you’ll get to do it again during your 716A/B or 715A/B/C/D course in your third year and often in your fourth year. Once the rotation has ended you’ll get evaluated. The proof of this rotation will reflect in your Dean’s Letter with the listing of the rotation and any comments made by the preceptor in your Clinical Performance Evaluation (CPE). (check out this sample MSPE – look for elective rotations and you’ll see how the clerkship track will appear.)

Because it is a clinical distinction course and not an elective, the rotation is not eligible for honors, even if the preceptor marks honors on the grading sheet (CPE). Because Clinical Distinction is a four-week course it cannot be divided into two two-week blocks, an elective can (ie: 715A/B/C/D).

As with electives, students who choose to do the clerkship can use this time for:

  • A clinical rotation
  • MPH completion work
  • Research
  • Global health program activities

However, you can also do all those same activities during a specialty track!

Specialty Track

The specialty track requires more work and planning. You have to determine your learning outcomes and criteria for passing, write a contract, find a sponsor (hopefully your preceptor), get the contract approved, and draft a self-evaluation. It’s your course so you have to direct the learning.

Why do more work?

Because of the outcomes.

  • First of all, you will most definitely get more out of the experience. Take my word for it.
  • Second, it will be featured in your residency application.
    • Check out this sample MSPE (if you haven’t already) and see how Clinical Distinction specialty tracks make you look incredible!
  • Third, you can choose how your clinical activities fit into your course. For example, you might make a plan, and talk to your preceptor about spending Monday mornings at home reading PubMed or writing a medical student curriculum and your Friday afternoons volunteering at a kindergarten class to teach nutrition. Perhaps there is a conference you want to attend or you want to be involved in surgeries that happen during the time you are there. As long as you can find a willing sponsor you can make the clinical work, work for you.