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 during the summer before the first year, between first and second year, after the third year and during the fourth year. Funding for medical students to do research during the summer is available from NIH 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 that lead to dual degrees: Master of Arts and Doctor of Medicine (MA/MD), Master of Science in Clinical Investigation (MSCI/MD), Master of Population Health Sciences (MPHS/MD), and Master of Public Health (MPH/MD). For these programs, financial support is available from several sources. Students may also spend time at 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 (the number of electives) and the timing of the courses (accelerating, decelerating and time off) during the preclinical years?

During the preclinical years (years 1 and 2), all medical students take a series of core courses on a pre-determined schedule that is similar for all. Examples of these courses include anatomy, pathology and organ-based pathophysiology. All students also take a series of four to six 10-hour electives during the first year that cover additional basic science, clinical and humanities topics.

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

With a 99 percent passing rate on Part I and close to that on Part II, Washington University medical students perform about 15 points above the national average. Students who desire help with the boards can obtain it from many sources.

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

The entire first and second years of medical school are graded on the Pass/Fail system. Thereafter performance is graded with Honors, High Pass, Pass and Fail. In addition, during clinical courses in the third and fourth years, overall grades are divided into subjective and objective components. The subjective components consist of evaluations of clinical performance by the faculty and the objective components are based on performance on nationally standardized exams. Mid-rotation evaluations are provided so that there will be sufficient time to improve performance levels if a student is having difficulty.

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 faculty and administration at Washington University School of Medicine keep an open-door policy, meaning that they are always willing to talk to students about their concerns. Day-to-day informal access to course masters provides a means for students to communicate with faculty about learning methods and course material. At the end of each course, students are asked to evaluate the relevance of material and the teaching methods. This information becomes part of a formal curriculum evaluation process in which the course masters and students act as a committee to consider changes for individual courses or the curriculum as a whole. Input from students is highly valued by the faculty and administration and frequently leads to changes. Based on this process, course content and delivery are refined as needed. Examples of changes that have resulted include the following:

  • The first and second years are graded Pass/Fail.
  • Course masters are responsible for providing written responses to criticisms made by the 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.
  • New interactive techniques (audience response systems) have been added to the classrooms setting.
  • Based on student requests, lectures are videotaped.

7. How diverse is the student body? Are there support services for ethnic or racial minorities and women?

The leadership of Washington University and the medical school is strongly committed to enhancing diversity throughout the institution. Our student body is diverse in academic background, geographic origin, race, ethnicity, personal interests and life experience. For example, the class that entered in 2016 came from 67 different schools, 28 different states and 13 foreign countries. Fifty percent of the class was female and 16 percent were from underrepresented minority groups.

Support services are available for all medical students with some 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 the women in the Medical Center. The Office of Diversity Programs provides a supportive community for students from traditionally underrepresented groups. The Student National Medical Association offers mentoring and networking opportunities for underrepresented minority students as well. The Asian-Pacific American Medical Students Association supports the interests and activities of students of Asian-Pacific backgrounds and other students.

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

The Becker Medical Library and Farrell Learning and Teaching Center house extensive computer facilities for our students. In addition to desktop computers with full access, many students now access the internet and online materials using their own mobile devices via the wireless service provided at the medical school. Olin Residence Hall has computer facilities and computer terminals in individual dorm rooms. Students are able to access all online course content and related materials stored at the medical school. These include course schedules, syllabi, lecturer’s presentations, pathology 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 1,507 beds. Both of these hospitals provide large amounts of care for the medically indigent in the St. Louis community. Last year the medical center hospitals logged 1,031,894 outpatient visits and 92,038 hospital discharges. Students also rotate through hospitals in the community including Missouri Baptist Medical Center, Veterans Administration Medical Center, 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?

There are student representatives on various Curriculum Committees. In addition, students participate in the LCME institutional self-study committee during the re-accreditation process. The class elects representatives to the Curriculum Committees who provide feedback to the class concerning curricula refinements. The following committees also have student representation: Primary Care, Advising, and the Farrell Learning and Teaching Center. Medical students also play an active role in the admissions process. They meet with applicants and serve as hosts and hostesses; they play a major role in the Committee on Admissions’s annual process of mapping and planning.

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 heavily involved in community service, particularly during their first and second years. Several programs provide opportunities to work with elementary and secondary school pupils throughout the city and county.

Examples of students 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 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?

The school provides vaccination against Hepatitis B. There are standard procedures to administer preventive treatments in case of occurrences such as needle-stick accidents.

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.