Extracurricular Enrichment Activities

What is an Extracurricular Enrichment Activity (EEA)?

An Extracurricular Enrichment Activity (EEA) – formerly labeled as a ‘free-time elective’ – is a scholarly undertaking created by and for B.U. medical students that is not part of the formal medical school curriculum. These informal classes may not be labeled or presented as “electives” (as was done in the past) because this term causes confusion with credited, graded electives that appear on the medical school transcript. Extracurricular enrichment activities are not included on a student’s transcript and grades are not assigned.

If you are interested in developing an EEA at BUSM, see Procedures for Approval of EEAs.

Requirements for Participation in EEAs

Students must be in good academic standing in order to undertake an EEA, and they must continue to be in good academic standing throughout the length of the class. Students are encouraged to meet with a dean in the Student Affairs Office if there are questions regarding their academic status and suitability for participation.

For questions, contact Ana Gregory.

Descriptions of Extracurricular Enrichment Activities at BUSM

All classes are listed below. Each has a specific person who handles sign up. Contact this person directly to enroll.

  1. The Healer’s Art
  2. Introduction to Surgery MS-1
  3. Surgical Immersion Opportunity (MS-2 )
  4. Medical Spanish
  5. Narrative Medicine Workshop
  6. Spectrum of Physician Advocacy (SPA-1)

The Healer’s Art

[spring, 2019]

Information is available via the Department of Family Medicine’s page on The Healer’s Art.

Introduction to Surgery MS-1

[spring, 2019] 

 >>> Sign-up: Go to:


Faculty: Tejal Brahmbhatt, MD, Tracey Dechert, MD, FACS

Goals: This class provides an opportunity to expose 1st year medical students to the science and art of the surgical discipline.


  • The learner will be enabled to develop an understanding of the various roles of a clinician surgeon.
  • The learner will be exposed to various sub-specialties within surgical medicine to garner the true reach of this discipline.
  • The learner will begin to be exposed to various forms of requisite skills necessary to provide surgical care including surgical suturing and knot tying; basic laparoscopic skills.
  • The learner will begin to understand leadership and interpersonal skills necessary to practice surgery.

This class is a requisite for the MS-2 course, Introduction to Surgery MS-2 (see below).


  • There will be two groups (Group A & Group B) with 30 students each.
  • The groups will alternate weeks so that each group will have two sessions per month.
  • Each series will be comprised of four 60 minute sessions: 3 lectures and 1 workshop.
  • The workshop will be a procedure-based session.
  • Meeting locations to be determined.

Grading Criteria:

  • Essay assignment: 1 page essay on your perception of the art of surgery.
  • 80% Attendance


Surgical Immersion Opportunity (MS-2)

Faculty: Tejal Brahmbhatt, MD; Tracey Dechert, MD, FACS

Goals: This enrichment activity is designed for students who expressed interest in the Introduction to Surgery enrichment activity in their first year. It will enhance their understanding of surgery while providing them with an insider’s view of the surgical practice.


  • The learner will be immersed in the clinical world of surgery through direct interaction with surgeons and attendance at Grand Rounds and M&Ms.
  • The learner will be paired with a surgical mentor (resident or attending) and be required to shadow at least two procedures with their mentor.
  • The learner will build on the skills they learned in the first year surgery elective with an advanced skills session.
  • The learner will further understand leadership, professionalism, and interpersonal skills necessary to succeed in the field of surgery.
  • This enrichment activity is only open to students who expressed interest in the Introduction to Surgery MS-1 Enrichment Activity in spring.


The enrichment activity will run from September to December and will comprise of the following:

  • Pairing students with residents/attendings in various surgical specialties for a personal shadowing experience with the opportunity for one on one shadowing and mentoring. Students are required to shadow a minimum of two (2) surgeries, however students can arrange further shadowing with their faculty/resident mentor. PLEASE NOTE: It is the responsibility of the students to reach out to the surgeon they are assigned to and decide the dates and times of shadowing. If the students fail to contact their assigned surgeon, they forego the opportunity to shadow.
  • Attend at least ONE Surgery Grand Rounds and M&M conference (professional attire mandatory, please arrive on time to not interrupt the presentations)
  • Surgery M&M take place Friday, 7 – 8 am, room L-110, Grand rounds take place following M&M, also in room L-110.
  • Three Didactic sessions
  • One Advanced Skills session

Grading Criteria: The enrichment activity does not have any assignments for grading, however, attendance and completion of the requirements are necessary to advance to future surgical enrichment activities.

Completion Requirements:

  • Shadowing at least two surgeries with assigned mentor
  • Attendance at ONE surgery Grand Rounds and M&M conference
  • Attendance at the three didactic sessions
  • Attendance and participation in the advanced skills session


Medical Spanish

[spring, 2018; not updated for spring, 2019]

To apply: By Sunday, January 8, 2017, take this ~15 minute placement test to help us determine the Intermediate and Advanced levels, and fill out this form to sign up and help us schedule classes and tweak the class to what participants are interested in.

Questions? Email spanishbusm@gmail.com

Description: Clinically oriented Spanish skills are invaluable in the health profession as we strive to improve patient care by better communication between providers and Spanish-speaking patients. Through the Medical Spanish class, students will learn and practice key Spanish vocabulary necessary to perform an effective H&P. In addition, students will improve their fluency and confidence in Spanish by practicing with native Spanish speakers from the community. Students are expected to commit 2 hours per week to the class and are asked to miss no more than 1 class session.

Topics to be covered in class include:

  • Chief complaint and HPI
  • Past medical history and chronic disease
  • Family history and habits
  • Social and occupational history
  • Basic physical exam
  • Head and neck
  • Thorax, lungs, and circulatory system
  • Abdomen and GI system
  • Musculoskeletal system
  • Reproductive system/GU

Narrative Medicine Workshop

[fall, 2018]

Questions? E-mail: jcarlopasco@gmail.com (Carlo Pasco)


  • The Narrative Medicine Workshop will develop students’ oral and written communication skills through a collaborative peer-led environment over a 10-week period. Students will meet in groups of 12 with a facilitator once each week in a 2-hour session. The student is expected to complete in-class readings and respond in discussion to a number of literary texts for a range of themes that target competencies in communication, collaboration, and multicultural compassion needed for future clinical work. They will also critique student writing and each produce a final work of writing for workshop and revision by the end of the elective.
  • Value: The practice of narrative medicine is founded on the idea that knowledge of narrative structure from the study of literature and the experience of writing and discussion with classmates can drive the clinicians’ understanding of patient stories. Through this workshop, students will advance their competencies in communication through readings, discussion, and writing. In addition, giving students time to discuss topics that do not lend themselves well to a didactic classroom format will drive students to develop their own unique voices, foster wellness, and help to prevent burnout.
  • Educational skills targeted:
    • Oral and written communication
    • Cultural humility
    • As opposed to “discrete mastery traditionally implied by the static notion of” cultural competence, “cultural humility incorporates a lifelong commitment to self-evaluation and critique, to redressing the power imbalances in the physician-patient dynamic, and to developing mutually beneficial and non-paternalistic partnerships with communities on behalf of individuals and defined populations.” (Tervalon, Murray-Garcia 1998)
    • Creativity  
  • First day: Sessions will be in a BUSM classroom, Wednesdays 5:00-7:00pm
  • Student requirements: Attend weekly sessions and complete reading and writing assignments. There are no prerequisites for writing or literary skills.

Educational Class Goal: The purpose of the narrative medicine elective is to provide a learning opportunity to develop communication skills by interpreting, analyzing, and discussing works in literature as it relates to future clinical practice.


By the end of the Narrative Medicine Workshop, students will be able to:

  1. Apply narrative skills of close reading (such as identification of form, voice, or mood) to stories of all natures, written or spoken, at least once per assigned reading as observed by facilitators in workshop discussion sessions (C)
  2. Analyze critically stories of all types, written or spoken, against wider narratives of sociopolitical and cultural power through thoughtful and respectful discussion with classmates as observed by facilitators in workshop discussion sessions (B)
  3. Identify how their own backgrounds affect the ways they interpret the views and values of others through completion of written and spoken reflection as observed by facilitators in workshop discussion sessions (B)
  4. Generate, self-assess, and revise individual creative writing pieces with a clear mind to narrative skills discussed in workshop for submission to facilitators by the end of the 10-week period (E)


  • Facilitators: Carlo Pasco (BUSM ’21), Priya Cherukuri (BUSM ’21), Joey Stromberg (BUSM ’21), Ravi Agrawal (BUSM ’21)
  • Faculty mentors: Dr. Margaret Lee (Margaret.Lee@bmc.org)

Curriculum: Workshop sessions will meet weekly for 2 hours per session over the course of 10 weeks. Each session will focuses around a theme that combines medical and literary ideas, around which students will interact through assigned reading, discussion, and writing exercises. To examine the breadth of ways people tell their stories, learners will use discussions of philosophy, memoir, fiction, poetry, and the graphic novel and examine the detailed and individual perspectives of the authors. This close examination assists with understanding to peer writings as well as future patients’ spoken stories. Students will be encouraged to share their writing from generative tasks throughout the session in a low-pressure, safe setting.

Each student will submit one long piece to be workshopped by the peers over the course of the class. During this time, students will examine each other’s work with the same care that they took in discussing published stories, giving constructive feedback for use in revision. Reviewing peer work is an exercise in empathy, thus workshopping is intended to benefit both the student whose work is being critiqued as well as the students who are giving feedback. At the end of the course, student will revise their pieces for final submission.


In the span of 10 weeks, students will be expected to:

  1. Attend at least 7 out of the 10 sessions with readings prepared before class.
  2. Discuss in-class readings.
  3. Write 1 longer (up to 4,000 word) creative work to be submitted for workshop on a due date to be assigned.
  4. Revise their long creative work, applying the skills learned in class and the feedback from their workshop, for final submission.

Spectrum of Physician Advocacy (SPA-1)

[spring, 2018; not updated for spring, 2019]

Questions? E-mail: buatp@bu.edu

Description: The Spectrum of Physician Advocacy (SPA-1) is a 10-session (non-graded) class that introduces students from different allied health professions to how healthcare providers can advocate for individual patients and contribute to conversations about social and health policy. Students will deepen their knowledge of the interplay between social factors and health and explore how to work as a healthcare provider to uncouple disadvantage from adverse health outcomes. Each session is student-taught with faculty approval and will have a different speaker who does advocacy work related to the particular topic. We also hope that students will connect with a community of their peers who are interested in health inequities and advocacy. This semester’s class will begin on January 9, 2018 and will be on Tuesday evenings.

The following topics will be covered:

  • Introduction to Social Determinants and Advocacy
  • Poverty and Health
  • Race and Health
  • Housing and Health
  • Gun Control and Community Violence
  • Substance Use and Harm Reduction
  • Correctional Health
  • LGBT Health
  • Immigrant and Refugee Health