Finding an idea is the most intuitive part of creating a specialty project. For many students the idea is the medical specialty in which they hope to have a career. For others it is a wellness related practice which has always been a passion. There are no limits on what makes an idea a good idea: in or out of the medical realm or traditional osteopathic training, there is a world of things to know.

You can find some ideas on the Specialty Track Project Ideas page. You can also get ideas by viewing the gallery of projects students have already completed. (COMING) or viewing the Sample Project Descriptions page.

Using the Same Topic of Study for CD I and II

There is no restriction on doing the same project or using 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 students interest.

Here 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 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 which 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 a 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 simply the same idea but different activities in CD I and II.

I talk more about the requirements and paperwork for these type of combined projects in the design section in this website – be sure to read it before you decide on your project idea!


Activities make up the work of your Clinical Distinction Project.

Each student is asked to select the type of activities they will complete during the specialty project. There are different logistical requirements and different learning resources and capacities associated with different types of activities.

Types of Activities

There are 3 primary categories of activities

  1. Independent study or Scholarship
  2. Clinical Activities
  3. Relational but non Clinical

Research can fall into any of the above categories.

Within each of the three primary categories there are many many options:

  1. Independent study
    • Online modules
    • Research*
    • Reading
    • Literature reviews
    • Software or hardware development
    • Writing
    • Artistic endeavors
    • Physical development activities
  2. Clinical
    • Clerkship style
    • Observing advanced clinical activities
    • Research*
    • Patient questionnaires or research
    • Global Health Program activities
    • Patient advocate activities
  3. Relational
    • Work outside health field with people
    • Questionnaires*
    • Community service
    • Observation outside of medical settings
    • Presentations or teaching the public
    • Curriculum or educational projects

These are just some examples of the activities that fall into the three primary categories.


For any specialty project activities within and between the three primary categories can be combined. There is no limit to the types of activities that can be chosen.

Why Specify Activity Types ? What are the implications of this choice?

Selecting your types of activities allows you and your CD advisor to better assess what paperwork and approvals you need before your project starts. It also impacts who your faculty sponsor might be. Finally, if you are interested in showing competency through improved entrustment, you can’t do  authentically that without being in a workplace setting.

  • Clinical activities require site or preceptor credentialing or accreditation
  • Clinical activities allow entrustment improvement
  • Global health activities require Global health program approval
  • Research may require an IRB and research proposal approval*
  • Different activities can be better assessed by different faculty sponsors.


*Does the Project Include Research?

Doing research can be part of a clinical activity, or a non clinical activity. It can include literature searches, or questionnaires outside of healthcare setting. But any time research includes human subjects it is possible you will need IRB approval.

In order to determine if you need IRB approval, you can consult several resources:


A Short Video on the information in this webpage

This next video is about resources which can be found here: Specialty Track Resources. Make sure you check out the resources as you plan your project.