Clinical Distinction

Your future, by you


Questions the Specialty Track

Forms and Links

Where are the forms for Clinical Distinction?

All the forms you need can be found in Canvas in the Clinical Distinction Organization.

Who is my assigned Course Director?

The list of students and assigned Course Directors can be found in Canvas in the Clinical Distinction Organization.

I already submitted a rotation request form. Why am I being asked for more documentation by the CED?

A frequently confusing issue is the difference between the rotation request form and the contract for Clinical Distinction. For each of your four green blocks, two of which will be Clinical Distinction, one of which will be a vacation, and one of which will be an elective course, you need to complete a rotation request form. Clinical Distinction courses which are independent studies, require that you document the work you do by committing to a contract and writing up what you completed in a narrative evaluation. For the board review, the specialty, and the generalist tracks you access the documentation through a link that is different from the rotation request link and can be found in canvas. For the clerkship style tract and for selective, and vacation, you don’t need to use these additional forms. See the respective requirements pages on this website for more details.

Sponsors and Others on Your Support Team

It seems like it’s easier to get Touro faculty to be my sponsor for my specialty tract than to ask a doctor from one of my clerkships. Is there any reason why I shouldn’t just have Touro faculty be my sponsor?

The best person to be your sponsor is someone who’s potentially interested in the project you’re doing, but most importantly is able to actually see you do work. In most cases, Touro faculty are happy to sign off on your project but they can’t really do more than simply say “it looks like you did what you said you did.”

On the other hand, your clinical faculty at your clerkship site can actually say that they observed you completing entrustable professional activities. If your evaluation, at the end of the specialty tract includes comments from adjunct faculty it is more meaningful to residency directors than Touro faculty. Why? Because, unlike Touro Faculty, adjuncts have no investment in residency match rates, in a way they can be more objective, so if they praise your work it carries more weight. Read more about this on the Faculty Sponsor page


How do I know if I need IRB approval?

If the project you are doing includes any research with human subjects, including, questionnaires submitted to members of the public or patients, gathering data from patients or charts it will likely need IRB approval. The Ideas and Activities page on this website has more details.

Using the Same Topic of Study for CD I and II

If I do 2 specialty tracks will both show up in my Dean’s letter?

Yes absolutely! But most of the co2023 will be doing Board Success Block one. If you are intrigued by this idea you must reach out to Dr. Weiss for approval.

Most of the co2023 will be using CD I for Board Study so this question won’t apply to you. However, there is no restriction on doing the same project or using the same idea or area of study for both Clinical Distinction I and II. This can take various forms depending on the project design and the student’s interest.

Here are some examples:

  1. For both CD I and II the student signs up to participate in a research project on Alzheimer’s in an existing lab.
  2. For CD I a student does a clinical clerkship in a diabetes clinic and for CD II the student does an independent study on diabetes
  3. For CD I a student does the longitudinal medical Spanish curriculum, collecting data during their core rotations and writing up a new curriculum that they can teach their fellow students on rotation. For CD II the student joins the global health program and travels to a Spanish-speaking country.
  4. For CD I and II a student develops an elective course which they deliver to second-year students.

Notice that in some cases it appears that CD I and II are a single project and in some cases it is simply the same idea but different activities in CD I and II.

Board Success Track Questions

Contract Questions

Where do I find this contract?

Here’s the Link: Board Success Contract Link.  It’s inside canvas in the Clinical Distinction Organization.

When do I have to complete the contract?

It’s due on the first day of the course. You should start working on it before the course starts!

  • Plan ahead to decrease stress!
    • Meet with your academic mentor to discuss your plan at least 2 weeks before the start of the course.
    • Submit your contract one week before the start of the course.

Is there a sample contract I can look at?

Yep – scroll back up to the Documents section.

What’s in a contract and why do I have to do it?

  • Components of the Contract: This contract is an online form which asks you to describe your course of study
    • why you’ve chosen it
    • what you are going to study
    • how you are going to study
    • what schedule you are going to follow
    • how you will determine if you should pass the course
  • Collaboration with your Academic Mentor is Key: Collaboration on your study plan is a tool for success offered to students through this course.
    • You can complete this form independently and send it to your Academic mentor for review by selecting the right option in the online form when directed.
    • You could also draft some ideas and then make an appointment with your Academic mentor to review them before submitting the form.
    • The contract is signed electronically by you and your sponsor

Once I submit this form, how will I know my Academic Mentor got it?

Once you submit your contract your faculty sponsor (academic mentor) will be immediately, via email, asked to review it and submit their approval. When this happens you’ll be notified by email immediately that you are approved to start your study plan. You’ll know they got it when they approve it.

How many times can I do the Board Success Track?

This track can be used once during third year. Most students who self-select this track do it during block one if their schedule allows, however it can be used to prepare for any examination during third year.

When can I use the Board Success Track?

The Board Success Track exists because students regularly ask for more time to study for the boards. Most students who self-select this track do it during block one if their schedule allows, however it can be used to prepare for any examination during the third year.

What if I don’t get notified by email that my contract was approved?

If you don’t receive a notification email one of the following has happened:

  1. You didn’t submit it or it was not filled out correctly. Key mistakes include not putting the right email of your mentor and not selecting “send this to my Academic Mentor for review” on the last page or not clicking submit.
  2. Your Academic Mentor didn’t see the email – occasionally it goes to junk mail, sometimes mentors don’t check email.
  3. Your Academic Mentor didn’t fill it out correctly or just didn’t fill it out at all.

What should I do if I don’t get notified my contract was approved?

First reach out to your Academic mentor – ask them to check their inbox for the form, and to check their junk mail too. The easiest way is to search email for the word Formsite or your name. Remind them gently this is a requirement that you need to complete to take this course. If they don’t have it, or don’t respond, reach out to Candyce Sullivan via CED Connect, the administrative assistant who handles Clinical Distinction. She can determine where in the process the form got stuck. If this doesn’t resolve the issue, please reach out to the Course Director, Dr. Jennifer Weiss.

My Mentor asked me to modify my plan, which I did. I re-submitted the form, but my mentor is getting an error message when she/he uses the link:

An error message means the link has already been used and submitted. This mentor is probably using the original link from your first submission. Have them delete that email and search their inbox again. If there isn’t another email with a new link, reach out to Monica Delgado for troubleshooting. Probably the wrong button was selected on the last page of the form. If the question – shown below – isn’t answered correctly before the form is submitted, the form won’t go to the right place.

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What if I need to change my plan of study? 

Reach out to your Academic Mentor and let them know you are making changes. Most likely this will be just a formality but they may have some advice for you. When you complete your self-evaluation you’ll be asked to describe any changes to your plan. Document your changes in the appropriate place in the completion form.

Completion Form Questions

When is the final form due?

The Last Day of the course which should fall on the last day of the block.

Where do I find the form I need to complete at the end of my Board Study time?

The notification email you received when your Mentor approved your contract has the link to complete the documentation at the end of the course!

I can’t find the notification email but I know I got it.

First search your email, including junk and trash for Formsite. If you still don’t find it, reach out to Monica Delgado, the CED administrative assistant who handles Clinical Distinction. If this doesn’t resolve the issue, please reach out to the Course Director, Dr. Jennifer Weiss.

My course ends a few days before I take the boards.

Should I wait to complete the final form for Clinical Distinction? No, the form describes your study experience. It’s a requirement for the course. You don’t have to take the exam, or have your score back to complete this final form.

Grades and Residency Application Process

I didn’t pass the Boards…yet. Can I still pass Clinical Distinction?

You set the passing criteria for this course when you answer this question on the form: What is your criteria for passing this course? Basis for pass/fail decision: Describe how you want your work evaluated. It’s not recommended that you use passing the boards as a criteria. Clinical Distinction is asks you to plan your month, your study plan and decide what success means to you. You pass by creating the plan and evaluating it in collaboration with your Mentor.

What does the form ask me to write?

The online form will review what you contracted to do and ask you to describe:

  • If you did anything differently than you planned
  • If you were successful in your plan
  • If you think you passed the course
  • The online form also gives you ample room to discuss your experience in a narrative form.

Who decides if I pass or fail?

In a sense you do, by setting criteria and deciding if you met your goals. Your mentor, however is responsible for the final pass/fail determination, based on your agreement with them. That’s why collaboration with your Academic Mentor is key. Getting quality feedback through discussion of your form is an option for the Board Success Track. After you submit your self-evaluation the form will be sent to your Faculty Sponsor to review and they will be asked to submit a pass/fail grade or they can ask you for revisions before submitting your grade.

If I do a board review will that be represented in my dean’s letter?

Generally not. In some cases, students who are required to do board review by SPC may end up having some information about the board review track in their Dean’s letter but if they have done a specialty track also, this does not happen.

Other Questions

I don’t think I need this time to study and I’ve heard specialty tracks are better for my residency application – can I do one instead?

You can’t change when your green blocks happen but you do get to decide what you do with them. Most students don’t need extra time to study for boards!

  • Option 1. You could take a vacation.
  • Option 2: You could do a Specialty Track – if you are considering this, please read all the pages on designing a specialty track before scheduling a meeting with Dr. Weiss. This way you can decide if its a realistic plan for you.
  • Option 3: You can do a selective. Check out the CED Canvas pages to learn more about scheduling a selective.

Faculty and Professional Development Questions

Send us your questions

Don’t hesitate to reach out with the contact information below, or send a message using the form.