Elective Planning and Requirements

About Elective Study
During the Major Clinical Year, students begin a series of decisions, culminating in a particular residency program for postgraduate education. During October, November, and December of their Major Clinical Year (MCY), students plan their Differentian and Integration (D&I) curriculum, which includes both electives and a Scholarly Project. To make the best choices, students must consider their interests and then decide what to study, at which institution, and at which point in the year. Program directors, chairs, residency advisors, advisory deans, senior students and the Senior Associate Dean for Student Affairs provide information regarding suitable electives for each career choice.

Requirements for Elective Schedules

P&S students in the classes of 2014 and 2015 will have different graduation requirements; however, some components remain the same regarding subinternships and restrictions on specialties. Please visit the following links for more information:

Students in the "Scholarly Projects Plus" program who wish to complete more than six months of full-time scholarly work must meet with the Senior Associate Dean for Student Affairs and the Associate Dean for Curricular Affairs to develop an Individualized Learning Plan (ILP) as part of their project review process.

Note About Away Electives and Transfer of Credit
The Classes of 2015 and 2016 may receive credit for up to three electives that are full time, four weeks in duration, and supervised by an MD at LCME schools or at a Columbia international exchange program. All other away electives must be approved by the Senior Associate Dean for Student Affairs.

Elective Study and Career Planning
To increase student awareness of upcoming decisions and the options available, the Senior Associate Dean for Student Affairs provides information in the form of memoranda and class meetings beginning in the middle of the Major Clinical Year and throughout the D&I period. Advisory Deans and Residency Advisors also provide numerous opportunities for students to meet with them and learn about different specialties. Students are also supported by the class head as well as the Dean’s Office. A comprehensive website on career planning is available to all students by visiting the P&S Career Advising CourseWorks page.

The following events provide career and elective counseling for each student:

  • In November of MCY, the Senior Associate Dean commences meetings with each student individually to review academic achievements and discuss plans for the D&I period as well as residency applications
  • In January after MCY, students register for the first Spring semester of the D&I curriculum
  • In March (after MCY), fourth-year student panels advise the third-years on how to plan their D&I schedules and discuss the various specialties in a series of scheduled meetings 
  • In April, students gather in a series of small-group discussion sessions ("Pizza Dinners") with 4th year students, individual program directors, and department chairs in the various specialties of potential interest
  • In May, the Senior Associate Dean for Student Affairs meets with the class to review the residency application process in step by step detail
  • In October of the fourth year, students register for the Spring semester of the D&I curriculum (January through April).

To assist students with their decision-making, the P&S Electives Catalog is available for review. In addition, a comprehensive website on Career Counseling provides information for specialty and residency selection as well as elective choices.

By the start of their fourth year, all students apply for residency, including registering for the National Residency Matching Program (NRMP), requesting letters of recommendation from faculty members, and researching online programs that might fit their needs. In addition to working with their Advisory Dean and the Senior Associate Dean for Student Affairs, students are strongly encouraged to select a faculty advisor in the field of medicine students plan to pursue in their careers. With the help of the advisor, students identify residency programs they may be interested in and follow the necessary procedures for applying.

Most interviewing for residency programs occurs during December and January, with some in October, November and February. By the third week in February, the various programs and applicants across the country have ranked each other in order of preference and submitted their rank order lists to the National Residency Matching Program. Each applicant is then matched to the most preferred program on their rank order list that offers him/her a position, and each program matches the most preferred candidates who accept its offer of a position. The final match is announced on Match Day in March of the fourth year.

Elective Schedule
Electives are offered year-round, unless otherwise specified in the course description [See "Months Offered" within each course link in the P&S Electives Catalog]. All electives run from the beginning of the month to the end of the month, and are a minimum of 4 weeks in length. Depending on the elective, this may be the first day of the month, or the first Monday of the month. To be sure, please consult the P&S Electives Catalog for more information regarding each course.

Electives Offered at P&S
P&S students have the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of electives during their D&I phase. For the entire listing of P&S elective offerings, please visit the P&S Elective Catalog page. For P&S students, there are also options for global health electives, self-arranged preceptorships, as well as self-arranged research electives. Please contact pselectives@columbia.edu for more information about these types of electives.

Types of Electives

  • Subinternship (Clinical): Often referred to as a "sub-I", the student will function as part of a team on a teaching service with responsibilities closely mirroring those of an intern. Students will have primary responsibility for patient care and may be required to take night calls. The most common subinternships are in Medicine, Pediatrics, Surgery, Neurosurgery, Orthopedic Surgery, Otolaryngology, Urology, Neurology, and Emergency Medicine.

  • Consult (Clinical): The student will be under the direct supervision of house staff and attendings and will provide consultation to other in-hospital services. Students present cases and are responsible for follow-up of their patients. 

  • Preceptorship (Clinical): The student will work directly with one faculty member during the course of the elective, performing or observing all the duties of that faculty member.

  • Research (Nonclinical): Research electives are self-arranged opportunities for dedicated study on a topic agreed upon with a research supervisor. They are not available to visiting students except where listed in the elective catalog.

OASIS: Registration and Scheduling

The Class of 2016 will use OASIS for registration, scheduling, and evaluations: https://oasis.cumc.columbia.edu/. The Class of 2015 will use OASIS for their March and April 2015 rotations, as they overlap with the Class of 2016.

Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons Affiliated Hospitals/Sites**

Allen Pavilion**
5141 Broadway
New York, New York 10034
250 Pleasant Street
Concord, New Hampshire 03301
Basset Health Care/Cooperstown
One Atwell Road
Cooperstown, New York 13326
Northern Navajo Medical Center
PO Box 160
Shiprock, New Mexico 87420
Harlem Hospital
135th Street and Lenox Avenue
New York, New York 10037
Presbyterian Hospital
622 West 168th Street
New York, New York 10032
Helen Hayes Hospital
Route 9W
West Haverstraw, New York 10993
Milstein Hospital
177 Ft. Washington Avenue
New York, New York 10032
Indian Health Service
PHS Indian Hospital, PO Box 860
Whiteriver, Arizona 85941
St. Francis Hospital
100 Port Washington Blvd.
Roslyn, New York 11576
Indian Health Service
PHS Indian Hospital, PO Box 467
Zuni, New Mexico 87327
Stamford Hospital
Shelburne Road at West Broad Street
PO Box 9317
Stamford, Connecticut 06902

**The Allen Pavilion of Presbyterian Hospital is located at 5141 Broadway (near West 220th Street). It is not on the main Presbyterian Hospital site.

Please note that electives at NH/Dartmouth, Basset Health Care/Cooperstown, Northern Navajo Medical Center, Helen Hayes Hospital, Indian Health Service, St. Francis Hospital, and Stamford Hospital are not available to visiting students.

Location Codes
Code letter Location
P New York Presbyterian Hospital
C Mary I. Bassett Hospital
S Stamford Hospital
H Harlem Hospital

Additional Elective Information
Course codes consist of a two-letter prefix, a sequence number, and a one-letter suffix. The prefix indicates the specialty and the suffix indicates the location of the elective. For example, UR01P is an elective in Urology at New York Presbyterian Hospital.

All independently arranged preceptorships and research electives not found in the P&S Electives Catalog also require the submission of a Permission to Add Form (for the respective type of elective) as do all away electives.

Enrollment in electives at Bassett Healthcare must have approval from Bassett before registration is finalized. Contact the Office of Medical Education at the hospital at (800) 852-4566 for more details.