Frequently Asked Questions

1. Are there opportunities for students to design, conduct and publish their own research?

Washington University is world-renowned for its research faculty, facilities and opportunities. As a Washington University medical student, it is easy to gain research experience. There are abundant opportunities over the course of the 3 Phases. Students may complete research longitudinally over the duration of their time at Washington University and have time dedicated to learning foundations of scholarship and to work on projects in Phase 1 as part of the EXPLORE Immersion. Students may also take up to 16 weeks for research activities in Phase 3. Funding for medical students to do research may be available from training grants and from the dean of the School of Medicine. In addition, for students who desire longer research experiences, there are one- to two-year research opportunities and opportunities to pursue dual degrees: Master of Science in Clinical Investigation (MSCI/MD), Master of Business Administration (MBA/MD), Master of Population Health Sciences (MPHS/MD), Master of Public Health (MPH/MD), and Master of Biomedical Informatics (MBI/MD). For these programs, financial support is available from several sources. Students may also spend time at the NIH doing research. In recent years, more than 90 percent of medical students participated in research of some type during medical school.

2. Is there a transcript or class recording service?

Written transcripts of the lectures are not produced, but each class is video-recorded live. Following each lecture, a link to the class recording is placed on the course’s online database and is accessible by internet. In addition to the class recordings, the online databases also contain written lecture materials and associated PowerPoint files.

3. Is there flexibility in the coursework and the timing of the courses (accelerating, decelerating and time off) during Phase 1?

During Phase 1, all medical students take a series of modules on a pre-determined schedule that is similar for all.  There is some flexibility in the EXPLORE curriculum.  While students cannot accelerate the curriculum, there are options to decelerate or take a leave of absence if indicated.  Students would discuss these options with the Associate Dean of Student Affairs.

4. How do students from this medical school perform on the National Board Examinations? How does the school assist students who do not pass?

Most recent performances on USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 CK was 100%, and has averaged around 99% over the last few years.  In the most recent account of such scores, Washington University medical students performed about 13 points above the U.S. mean on Step 1, and for Step 2 CK, students performed about 10 points above the national mean. Students who desire help with the boards can obtain it from many sources.

5. How are students evaluated academically? How are clinical evaluations performed?

Because we are a competency-based program, students complete multiple assessments that provide information about their level of knowledge, skills, behaviors, and attitudes in each of the program objectives (also known as competencies). These assessments include things like tests, essays, direct observation of clinical skills by faculty or others, standardized patients and simulations, and project work, to name just a few. Assessments are combined in a portfolio for evaluation by a committee of faculty who look at a student’s overall performance in each program objective. The portfolio is also provided for the student, to review it with a coach (medical students generally work with the same faculty coach throughout the 4 years of training). At each step along the way, the student receives feedback to better understand one’s strengths as well as one’s opportunities for growth and for advancement of skills. We believe this structure provides the developing doctor with lifelong and self-directed learning skills that are so critical to being an outstanding physician in this rapidly changing medical environment.

6. Is there a formal mechanism in place for students to evaluate their professors and attending physicians? What changes have been made recently as a result of this feedback?

The Office of Program Evaluation & Continuous Quality Improvement at Washington University School of Medicine is dedicated to overseeing the evaluation of the MD educational program.  The faculty and educational administration keep an open-door policy, meaning that they are always willing to talk to students about their concerns. Day-to-day informal access to curricular element leaders provides a means for students to communicate with faculty about learning methods and course material. At the end of each module, clerkship, and elective, students complete evaluations regarding the curricular element, including relevance of the material, organization, quality of instructors/leaders, and educational methods. This information becomes part of a formal curriculum evaluation process reported through governing committees to consider changes for individual elements or the curriculum as a whole. Input from students is highly valued by the faculty and administration and frequently leads to substantive changes. Examples of changes that have resulted include the following:

  • The preclinical curricular elements are Credit/No Credit.
  • Curricular element leaders are responsible for providing written responses to formative feedback provided by students.
  • The teaching of biostatistics was overhauled to emphasize clinical applications of biostatistics and the use of biostatistics in the critical appraisal of new information.
  • Interactive/active learning strategies (e.g., audience response systems, case-based learning, team-based learning) have been added to the classroom setting.
  • Based on student requests, lectures are digitally recorded and available via the learning management system.
  • Incorporated Narrative Assessment opportunities for all longitudinal team activities

7. How diverse is the student body? Are there support services for groups underrepresented in medicine and women?

The leadership of Washington University and the medical school is strongly committed to the recruitment, selection, education, retention and graduation of a diverse student body in a culture that supports diversity, inclusion, critical thinking and creativity.   For example, the class that entered in 2020 came from 60 different undergraduate institutions, 26 different states and eight foreign countries. Sixty percent of the class was female and 24 percent were from groups underrepresented in medicine.

Support services are available for all medical students, with some student groups that focus on peer support and others that bring students together in a spirit of multiculturalism. For women, there is the Women in Science and Medicine Program, a social and professional organization that responds to the interests and needs of all women in the medical center.

The Asian-Pacific American Medical Students Association provides opportunities for students from all backgrounds to promote health advocacy and outreach to the Asian Pacific American populations of St. Louis.  Most recently, a WUSM chapter of the Alliance of Disabilities and Chronic Illnesses in Medicine was formed in 2020 as part of the national organization.  This group aims to create a community by and for students with disabilities and chronic illnesses and their allies. 

The Office of Diversity Programs provides advising and support services, community partnerships for medical students and a network of residents and faculty from diverse groups.  Students are supported by an active chapter of the Student National Medical Association, Latino Medical Student Association, and LGBTQMed, a student-run interest group dedicated to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) identity and health.  Additionally, students have access to networking and mentoring opportunities with OUTmed, an organization for LGBTQ+-identified faculty, residents, fellows and staff at Washington University School of Medicine.   

The Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion provides leadership, expertise and advocacy on all diversity, equity and inclusion efforts within Washington University School of Medicine.  They work in partnership and collaboration with all departments and groups to direct, lead and advance institutional efforts that create a welcoming, diverse and inclusive environment where everyone who learns, trains, conducts research, teaches, works and seeks care within our campus community is included, valued and respected.

More information about WUSM student groups may be found here.

8. Are there computer facilities available to students? Are they integrated into the curriculum/learning?

The Becker Medical Library, the McDonnell Medical Sciences Building, and Farrell Learning and Teaching Center (FLTC) house extensive computer facilities for our students, including pay-for-print network printers. In addition to desktop computers with full access, many students access the internet and online materials using their personal laptops and mobile devices via the wireless service provided at the medical school.  Students are able to access all online course content and related materials stored at the medical school. These include course schedules, syllabi, interactive online sessions, topical videos, presentations, medical images and other course content.

9. What type of clinical sites — ambulatory, private preceptors, private hospitals, rural settings — are available or required for clerkships? Does this school allow students to do rotations at other institutions or internationally?

There are numerous clinical sites available to our students. Within the immediate medical center, Barnes-Jewish Hospital and St. Louis Children’s Hospital have a total capacity of about 2,040 beds. Both of these hospitals provide large amounts of care for the medically indigent in the St. Louis community. In 2020, the medical center hospitals logged 1,266,770 outpatient visits and 99,156 hospital discharges. Students also rotate through other hospitals in the community including Missouri Baptist Medical Center, the Veterans Administration Medical Center, and Progress West. Other clinical settings include rural Missouri with primary care preceptors. A substantial percentage of our students do rotations at other institutions both inside and outside the United States.

10. What medical school committees (e.g., Curriculum Committee) have student representatives?

Students are actively involved in decision-making related to their medical student education through the committee structure.  Students are voting members on all committees that oversee and also ensure continuous quality improvement of medical student programs.  Student members of these committees include both elected students (e.g., the medical education representatives), as well as students selected at large.   These committees review and make decisions about issues ranging from policy to accreditation standards.  

11. How active is the Student Council/Government? Are students involved in (required or voluntary) community service? Are there other student organizations?

Medical students at Washington University are active in the medical center and in the community. The student government class officers meet with the deans regularly to be kept up to date on things that are going on within the School of Medicine. The student government plays an important role in curriculum development. Students are actively engaged in the community in the Health, Equity and Justice curriculum and student programs.  

Examples of community engagement and student programs include the following:

  • Students Teaching AIDS to Students (STATS) targets seventh graders in junior high and provides information about sexually transmitted diseases.
  • In the Perinatal Project, students pair up with a single, expectant mother and provide support through her pregnancy, delivery and post-partum time. (Another program that begins in the first-year puts students to work as patients’ health advocates.)
  • The Pediatric Outreach program matches children who are suffering from chronic illnesses and the siblings of these children with medical student big brothers and big sisters to provide support for families.
  • The student-organized clinic (Saturday Neighborhood Health Center) operates in conjunction with Family Health Care Centers and is dedicated to providing free medical care to the uninsured in the Forest Park Southeast neighborhood. Our students are also involved in local shelters, soup kitchens and Habitat for Humanity.
  • There are various other student groups including those focused on music, art, sports, religion, and literature. Student publications include the Dis-Orientation Guide and Hippocrene. For a complete list of student programs click here.

12. Does this school provide, or does the student pay for, vaccinations against Hepatitis B or prophylactic AZT treatment in case of a needle stick or accident?

Hepatitis B is a required vaccination for matriculation.  The status is reviewed by WashU Student Health Services (SHS) prior to entry. 

There are protocols to follow in the event of a blood borne pathogen exposure.  Post-exposure education/treatment is provided by SHS staff.  

13. Is an invitation required to complete a Supplemental Application?

No. WUSM does not send out invitations; all applicants are able to complete our supplemental application.