Why Are They Called Selectives (Rather Than Electives)?

This is a question I’ve pondered myself from time to time, but never for long enough to muster up the courage to ask someone who might know the answer. WUSM selectives provide ample opportunities for you to explore specific specialties within medicine — to expose yourself to various aspects of the health care system, for example, or to just learn about something you find interesting. Throughout the year, you’ll participate in up to six courses of your choice: one in the basic sciences, one in the clinical sciences, one in humanities and one more in either the basic or clinical sciences category. You also can choose two more selectives in any category if you’re feeling especially excited on pit night (the evening during the first week of school when we finalize our selective choices). Upperclassmen have claimed that some selective classes can end up being some of the most memorable and interesting aspects of the first-year curriculum!
— Michael V., M1

Cardio Sim

Cardiovascular Simulations was probably the most interesting selective I took this year. I find it very helpful to see how concepts discussed in lecture actually manifest clinically. Short of shadowing cardiologists, this selective was easily the best way to see firsthand how cardiac abnormalities present in a hospital setting. It also was remarkably helpful getting individual guidance from faculty members when examining EKGs. The teaching staff was fun and easy to work with. I also was happy to gain some experience working with the simulation mannequins. They are an important teaching component you otherwise don’t get very much practice with during first year.
— Carl S., M1

Gun Violence as a Public Health Issue

Gun violence is a public health epidemic. Although mass shootings may take up most media coverage, the true scourge of gun violence is found in personal disputes, domestic violence situations and, more than 60 percent of the time, in the frequently neglected topic of suicide. Dr. Ilana Rosman brings together leading experts from a range of disciplines, including public health, social work, surgery and pediatrics, all of whom are invested in reducing the burden of gun violence on American society. Through this seminar, you will learn why you, as a future physician, should care about gun violence, and how you can talk to patients about gun safety. It is an eye-opening course and a very important selective.
— Taylor D., M1

Intro to Emergency Medicine

Intro to Emergency Medicine provides an overview of the types of cases one is likely to encounter in the Emergency Department, discussing the reasoning for the differential diagnoses and management of these patients. The course consists of six lectures divided into categories such as trauma, cardiovascular, pediatric emergencies and toxicological emergencies. Dr. Wichelman does a great job of incorporating the latest research and statistics into the explanations of case management to illustrate the advancements in evidence-based emergency medicine. Although not as hands-on as I had originally expected (this is purely a lecture course), the presentations are very engaging and provide a broad overview of emergency medicine. I definitely saw the real-life correlates of the course content while shadowing in the Emergency Department.
— Zelun W., M1

Advanced Medical Spanish

The Advanced Medical Spanish selective is a full year selective (although you can quit halfway through if you decide you’d rather learn about major epidemics in medicine). In the first half (which runs through your first semester), you’ll essentially learn how to take a history and physical in Spanish (corresponding to your Practice of Medicine course). Sometimes, a Spanish-speaking physician will teach you firsthand how to perform a specific aspect of the physical exam. In the second half, you’ll learn about cross-cultural communication and the human aspect of medicine. If you plan on interacting with Spanish-speaking patients at any point in your career, this class will definitely be a valuable part of your education at WUSM. Don’t worry if you’re not a seasoned Spanish speaker: The majority of students in the selective took Spanish during high school/college and simply want to improve their skills!
— Michael V., M1

Newborn Medicine

This class has been a highlight of my first year so far. We have sessions on the physiological transition from life in utero to life on the outside as well as sessions on ethics, social work and bereavement. In addition to lectures, our class is in the NICU, and we get to go and see patients with the relevant conditions at the end of sessions. The professors are excited to get to know us and give us extra opportunities to pursue interests and experiences with newborn medicine, including shadowing and practicing the newborn exam. I love this class!
— Peppar C., M1

Olin Grand Rounds (OGR)

Olin Grand Rounds (OGR) meets every Monday night for three hours, which might seem daunting (other selectives might only meet for 10 hours total), but the course masters want to make the workload as lenient as possible so that we can learn about the business aspects of health care environments in a stress-free setting. And the class was 100% stress free. Want to miss a class because that last Anatomy exam rendered you crawling and useless? No problem! Want to turn in word-vomit write-ups? Check plus! Forgot that an assignment was due? Well that’s a shame, but make sure to turn one in next time. Each of the M1s genuinely enjoyed sitting in the three-hour lectures each week because of our amazing speakers (e.g. the CEO of Barnes-Jewish Hospital or physicians specializing in sickle cell disease or HIV) and the concise lectures that allowed us to learn about health care business in lay terms. If you’re interested in learning about the business side of health care, don’t be deterred from taking this class because of its time commitment and workload! If you’re unsure about taking this class, feel free to email me (feliciazhang@wustl.edu), and I’ll be happy to answer your questions!
— Felicia Z., M1

Public Health

Six sessions aren’t enough to get a grasp of public health as a whole, so this year’s iteration of this selective focused on corrections medicine. We were lucky to have a set of really interesting speakers ranging from jail physicians to state legislators. Having heard from a wide array of perspectives, the class then visited the Juvenile Detention Center to conduct interviews with the kids there. Those conversations informed a short proposal for a public health intervention. This was an interesting class that helped me learn about an aspect of medicine I had never really thought about. Almost forgot — you get dinner at every session!
— Anand U., M1