Socio-Medical Sciences and Public Health



Tutorials in Socio-Medical Sciences, Public Health and Community Medicine

Instructor: Michael A. Grodin, M.D., Department of Socio-Medical Sciences and Community Medicine

Location: BUMC Talbot 3 West
Telephone: 638-4626

Number of Students: (To be arranged)
Period to be Offered:(To be arranged)

Description of Elective:

Upon request, individual tutorials may be arranged with any member of the Department of Socio-Medical Sciences and Community Medicine, to pursue in depth a topic of interest to the individual student. Examples of tutorial topics introduced in the first year curriculum include: the doctor/patient relationship, health beliefs and attitudes, care-seeking decisions, health promotion, law-medicine issues, ethical issues, human rights and health regulation and planning.


Health Law, Bioethics and Human Rights

Instructors: George J. Annas, J.D., M.P.H. and Michael Grodin, M.D.

Location: BUMC Talbot 3W
Telephone: 638-4626

Number of Students: One per month
Period to be Offered: One to two months

Description of Elective:

This course is designed to build on the Health Law, Bioethics and Human Rights material covered in the first year “Essentials of Public Health” course by giving the student an opportunity to become more familiar with a specific area of health law, bioethics, and/or human rights that has a direct impact on medical practice and/or health care policy, on the state, federal, or international level. The course consists primarily of directed readings, meetings with the instructor(s), participation in formal classes that are on-going, and participation in relevant activities of the Department of Health Law, Bioethics, and Human Rights, including working with the Department’s nongovernmental organization, Global Lawyers and Physicians (

Topics appropriate for study include defining and implementing the human “right to health”; improving patient safety through regulation; protecting patient rights, including the right to make reproductive decisions; the role of physicians in preventing torture and other human rights abuses; and other specific topics that are proposed by the student. It is expected that at least one of the products that the student will produce during this elective is a comprehensive written paper on the problem the student has choosen to study.

Programs can be tailored to specific interests, and students interested in this elective are advised to contact one of the instructors at least 3 months in advance of the anticipated starting date. A written plan for the elective must be developed and approved prior to beginning the elective.

705.0 International Health Elective

Instructor: Suzanne Sarfaty, M.D., Director, International Health Program, BUSM
Contact: Ana Bediako
Location: A-3
Telephone: 638-4167
Website: International Health Program (provides expanded details in relation to information below)

Description of Elective:

This is a clinical clerkship or research opportunity for medical students interested in the field of International Health (IH). BUSM has a few established affiliations with hospitals and medical schools overseas, but students may seek alternative sites for their electives. They must be conversant with the language spoken in the host country for maximal learning benefit unless there is a provision for translators as part of the elective.

Any student wishing to undertake an IH elective must complete a formal application and submit it for approval to Dr. Sarfaty or the designated faculty contact (e.g. Warren Hershman, M.D. for the Israel elective and Vassilis Zannis, M.D. for the Greece elective). A letter of acceptance from the preceptor under which the student will work is also required.

It is strongly recommended that the student initiate plans for the IH elective six months in advance, as logistics for arranging overseas electives can be difficult. Evacuation/travel insurance will be provided to medical students if deemed necessary after discussion with Dr. Sarfaty or faculty contact.

All students are eligible to apply for a stipend to support the cost of the IH elective. Applications are accepted twice a year (July 15 and October 15) and are funded through a competitive process. Awards typically range from $400 to $1500, although awards of less or more are given. Funding is by reimbursement and is intended to help cover airfare and other expenses related to the elective. A completed post-elective report and original receipts must be submitted in order for reimbursement to be granted. In addition, students should consult the website for other potential sources of funding.

Duration of elective: one to three months

Prerequisite: Student must be in good standing, confirmed by the Office of the Registrar

707.0 Health Care Entrepreneurship Program

Instructor: Peter Russo

Location: School of Management-595 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA  02215

Telephone: (617) 353-6164     E-Mail:

Number of Students:1
Period to be Offered: 4 weeks

Description of Elective:

The elective at the Health Care Entrepreneurship Program (HCEP) exposes the medical student to the health care system from the perspective of the Clinician Entrepreneur. It provides insight into the world of business focusing on the start-up phase of health care companies. It offers exposure to the process of building a company from the moment of idea inception; through the stage of business plan writing, to the point of financing and initiation of operations. While at HCEP the student will join the team and contribute in one of three ways:
§ Critically evaluate new business opportunities presented to HCEP,
§ Actively assist HCEP ventures by conducting clinical and market research necessary to advance the project, or
§ Develop the student’s own ideas for a business opportunity
In addition to the tasks above, the elective will challenge and enhance the student’s analytic abilities, written and verbal communication skills, and his/her ability to function in a professional business environment. HCEP’s current areas of business interests include information technologies, health data and informatics, quality of care, clinical guidelines, cost containment, and delivery system efficiency.

Responsibilities will include:
1) Written report to senior staff members regarding analysis of business plans, research results, and/or a business proposal outline of their own specific health care business idea
2) Interviews with HCEP staff concerning their business experiences as needed
3) Weekly meetings with  to discuss ideas, insights, and progress

Participation in this elective requires:
1) A letter of intent written by the student and submitted  along with a current resume
2) An interview

The above requirements should be met at least 8 weeks prior to beginning the elective.


709.0    Critical Reading and Analyses of the Medical Literature

Department of Urology & Division of Graduate Medical Sciences

Boston University School of Medicine

Instructor: Abdulmaged Traish, Ph.D., MBA

Contact Information: 617-638-4578,  Fax 617-638-5412;  email:

Location: Students are expected to report to Dr. Traish’s office A building (A502) on the first day at 9 am, to discuss the overall elective requirements and to receive the first assignment.

Number of Students: 4-6 students (This block is designed as an elective for 4th year medical students. )

Period to be Offered: Block 19 (This elective is offered in the spring semester and is organized to accommodate the medical school schedule of electives. )

Length of Elective: 4 weeks


The goal of this educational elective is to provide medical students with a unique opportunity to develop critical thinking skills in reading and evaluating basic and clinical research literature.   This elective will provide students with an historical perspective in the art of reasoning and critical thinking in the pursuit of answers to biomedical questions.  Students will be given the opportunity to develop and understand the process of reasoning and refinement of research evidence leading to acceptance or rejection of formulated hypotheses.  Advancements in hypothesis development, methodological and technological approaches, and how such advances are used to solve fundamental questions in basic and medical research will be discussed.


The elective will be comprised of a series of assignments and presentations on selected contemporary basic and clinical science literature articles.  Dr. Traish will meet with students twice a week. The first meeting will be devoted to giving the students an overview of the elective and what is expected from them.  On this first meeting, Dr. Traish will hand the students their first assignment to discuss some key questions that need be addressed in formulating their presentation and summary for the assignment.  In general, at the beginning of the week, each student will meet with Dr. Traish to receive an assigned clinical research article and discuss a set of questions that need be addressed. The students will have several days to read and critically analyze and appraise the research question, methods, results and evaluate the findings and conclusions presented in the assigned article.  The students are expected to formulate a brief oral presentation (15 minutes) and a written summary of their conclusions on the assigned research article.  During the second meeting of the week, the student will orally present the summary of their analysis and findings and this becomes the basis for the discussion (45 minutes).  At the end of this discussion, Dr. Traish will meet with the student one-on-one to provide feedback on the presentation and discussion of the article and review the conclusions made and evaluate the progress made by the student.  A grade will be assigned to the performance on each presentation and discussion and will be used to account for the summative grade.  The summative grade is comprised of the grades for each of the 4 assignments.

GOAL: The goal of the Critical Reading and Analyses of the Medical Literature elective is to provide medical students with a unique opportunity to develop critical thinking skills in reading and evaluating basic science and clinical research literature. Further, we hope to engage students in meaningful discussions on how to identify potential sources of bias, relevant to the study design (prospective cohort vs. retro cohort vs. case-control vs. randomized clinical trials.


By the end of the Critical Reading and Analyses of the Medical Literature , the BUSM IV student will be able to:

  • Develop a proactive approach to seeking newly emerging evidence in the medical and research literature (U)
  • Demonstrate critical reading and thinking skills in order to stay abreast of current findings in the medical and research literature (R, U)
  • Assess the rationale for undertaking a research study, relevance of the question under investigation, quality of study design, validity of results and applicability of outcome to the practice of medicine (U).
  • Acquire, assimilate, and interpret basic and clinical research data via a clear summary through oral presentation of key findings (U).
  • Present effectively research analysis and findings (C)
  • Develop and refine their research literature skills to participate in small group discussions and evaluate the quality and accuracy of clinical and basic research data (U, C, R, S).

Apply current medical literature to improve methods of diagnosis and management of patients (R, U).


The curriculum includes reading of assigned clinical research articles, summarizing the key findings of the article in a presentation and discussing the findings.

The first meeting will set the stage for the rotation, to determine in small group interaction, the experience of the students with concepts in analyzing medical literature.   This includes providing articles for background reading on discussion of critical thinking and analyses of the data in the medical literature. The elective will use small group feedback from the students to determine areas of medicine of interest to the students and use this information to compile a set of articles in the literature to evaluate in discussions and presentations as part of this course.

The choice of the clinical research articles that will be used for discussion and presentation will be based on a set of criteria, such as: importance of the study, impact of the study on practice of medicine, the journal in which it is published, the significance of the conclusions of the studies and how will they impact medical practice, commentaries, and letters to the editors that followed publication of the study, the impact of the study/trial on the direction of research, and others as indicated by the papers themselves.


The individual learner will be evaluated based on fulfilling the elective learning objectives and specifically on his/her ability to:

  • Present clearly the summaries and key findings of the research articles
  • Appraise critically the data of research articles.  The following questions are used in the process of appraisal and comprise student evaluation assignments.  They must be answered appropriately in the written assignment and discussion sessions in order to achieve a passing grade for each assignment:
    • What type of study is this, and discuss the Evidence Based Medicine level
    • Was the research question to be investigated well defined and stated accurately?
    • Were the primary and secondary outcome measures defined and discussed?
    • Were the confounding factors taken in the consideration in the analyses?
    • Were missing and relevant information addressed?
    • Were the data explained in a clear manner? Was the authors’ analysis discussed?
    • Are there errors of fact and interpretation? Is discussion of the data relevant? Are there ambiguous statements?
    • Was the outcome of this study contrasted with data from other trials?
    • Is the pertinent literature cited?
    • Were the authors’ objectives in their discussion of the topic and the related data?
    • Do you agree or disagree with the final conclusions?
  • Participating actively in the discussion of the research articles is required in order to pass each assignment and to achieve a passing grade in this course.  Immediate feedback will be given to the student during discussion sessions, and if any of the above elements are not answered satisfactorily, then this will be communicated to the student along with a plan on how to improve and achieve a passing performance.
  • Depending on the article being reviewed for a particular assignment, other review questions may be developed which are tailored to that article, and will be shared in advance with the student along with expectations for correctly addressing those questions.

Each presentation discussion will constitute 25% of the total grade and must receive a passing grade in at least three out of four assignments over the course of the block. The student will receive an evaluation of their performance by the participating faculty (elective director) halfway through the elective and at the end of the elective.  Any assignment not receiving a passing grade will be reviewed with the student in order to help them improve their performance and knowledge base.  The student will be given the opportunity to update their assignment and engage in a new discussion in order to gauge their improvement and provide remediation if necessary.  This may require extra tutorial sessions.