Interdisciplinary and Capstone Courses

M80 899 Medical Student Education Special Study

Instructor(s): Michael Awad, MD, PhD, FACS
Location: Office of Medical Student Education, Becker Medical Library
Elective Contact: Melanie Smigielski, 314-747-3854,
Other Information: Students should contact Melanie Smigielski to schedule this four-week Special Study Elective.

Enrollment limit per period: 1

This course is a student-designed project under the direction of the Associate Dean for Medical Student Education, Michael Awad, MD, PhD, FACS.  It is intended for students who are interested in medical education as an aspect of their future career.  The overarching goals are to introduce students to the principles of curriculum development.  These principles will then be applied to the review and improvement of the current WUSM medical student curriculum.

Potential topics include: how students learn at WUSM, literature review of emerging technologies, collaborating with a course master for curriculum development and/or syllabus review.  The end product will depend on the nature of the project but potentially the development of a white paper or revised curriculum/course materials.  All students will present their work in poster format during the annual spring Office of Medical Student Education’s Med Ed Day.

Student time distribution:
Major teaching responsibility: Michael Awad, MD, PhD, FACS
Patients seen/weekly: N/A
On call/weekend responsibility: N/A

M80 849 Fourth Year Capstone

Instructor(s): Gina LaRossa, MD.
Elective Contact: Gina LaRossa, MD.
Other Information: Additional details will be provided at a later date.
Enrollment limit per period: 65

Valid start weeks for  this 4-week course are Weeks 33 and 37

The Fourth Year Capstone Course is highly structured and is schedule sensitive. In order to provide students with the absolute best experience possible, students are REQUIRED to attend ALL sessions. In general the morning sessions will start at 8:00 a.m. and run until approximately 12 noon.  Afternoon sessions will generally run from 1:00 p.m. until about 5:00 p.m.  The afternoons are hands-on activities which are faculty/staff intensive.

By the end of this four-week course, students should be able to demonstrate improved cognitive and clinical skills needed to enter the internship year of graduate medical training. The target group for this course is primarily students entering clinical residency training positions. As outlined in the course objectives, topics to be covered include acute clinical problems commonly faced on the inpatient service or emergency room, review of key diagnostic testing, basic procedural skills and patient and family communications regarding informed consent and end-of-life issues. Coursework will be divided between self-study, didactic and small group discussions and “hands-on” skills practice and simulation. Parts of the course will be tailored to individuals entering internal medicine, pediatrics and surgical disciplines. Students will be assessed by performance on simulation exercises and a written exam.

Learning Objectives:

By the end of this course:

  1. The student will be able to respond to common acute patient problems as tested with simulation by rapidly assessing the patient, requesting relevant information from the patient, medical record, and nursing staff, generate a differential diagnosis and order appropriate diagnostic testing and initial treatment for the problem.
  2. Demonstrate competence in a set of designated technical skills commonly needed in residency including basic suturing, chest tubes, central line, thoracentesis, and IV placement.
  3. Demonstrate the ability to interpret diagnostic tests, such as chest- x-ray and EKG, commonly used for initial evaluation of acute medical problems.
  4. Demonstrate and discuss the key elements of obtaining informed consent, dealing with difficult patient and family situations, end-of-life issues, and pain management.

Alternative clinical skills sessions will be offered on an ad hoc basis for students. These will be available in March and April depending on demand and faculty availability. These will not be “for credit”.

Student time distribution: N/A
Major teaching responsibility: N/A
Patients seen/weekly: N/A
On call/weekend responsibility: None.

M80 851 The Business of Medicine

Instructor(s): William A. Peck, MD, 314-935-9108; Daniel Moon, MD, MS, MBA; Joshua Saef, MD
Location: Washington University Center for Health Policy
Elective Contact: Connie Mushill, 314-935-9108, and Daniel Moon, MD, MS, MBA,
Other Information: Farrell Learning and Teaching Center, Room TBD
Enrollment limit per period: 60

This course will be offered in Weeks 41-42 only.

This two-week, interactive course enhances medical students’ “Healthcare System Literacy”, i.e. their understanding of how the healthcare system is structured, financed, operated, and regulated.  They will learn how clinical decisions and options are tied to market forces, business structures, and health policy.  From clinical practice management issues up to ‘big picture’ views of healthcare, the course modules help prepare students for the challenges they will face in their own practices as well as for leadership roles in improving patient care on a large scale.  The course will be a blend of case-method sessions, targeted mini-lectures, expert panels, and field trips; all designed to invite student participation and engagement with representatives from a broad spectrum of the healthcare industry.

Course Objectives
The primary purpose of this course is to equip future physicians with a functional awareness of the market forces influencing patient care and to prepare them for an active role in healthcare delivery improvement.

By the end of the course, students should be able to:

  • Understand the Healthcare System, outlining key institutions, corporations, and individual players.
  • -Analyze the basic ‘nuts & bolts’ of operating a medical practice across the most prevalent models of practice organization, e.g., how physicians get paid, key cost drivers, and pros/cons of different models.
  • -Connect physicians’ clinical decisions to a hospital’s financial bottom line.
  • -See healthcare insurance issues and reform from the patient perspective.
  • -Follow how emerging science and technology innovations progress from the bench to the bedside.
  • -Recognize how a medical degree can be utilized across a variety of career paths.
  • -Prepare for common personal finance challenges and milestones facing young physicians.

Grading & Evaluation
The course will be graded on a Pass/Fail basis. There is no final exam.
The following criteria will be applied to the final grade:

  • Participation during class discussion.
  • Students are expected to have read cases and/or pre-reading in order to take advantage of the expert speakers and case protagonists in attendance.
  • Assigned question formation and ‘warm calls’. Students will be assigned specific modules for which they are expected to prepare questions for the speaker and other modules where they will have a greater likelihood on being called upon to participate in the discussion.
  • Self-assessment – At the end of the course, students will submit a piece describing personal takeaways and key learnings.
  • Course evaluation – Student must complete a final survey on the course, rating specific modules and speakers.
  • Attendance – Given the importance of class interaction, absences are excused only at the organizers’ discretion.

Student time distribution: Conferences/Lectures/Field Trips/Reading 100%
Major teaching responsibility: Coursemaster, course organizers and case protagonists
Patients seen/weekly: 0
On call/weekend responsibility: None

M04 582 01 Alzheimer’s Disease in the Clinic and in the Lab

Instructors: John C. Morris, MD, and other faculty affiliated with the Knight Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, Department of Neurology. For information, contact Jennifer Phillips at 286-2882 or

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) affects more than 5 million Americans, and will increase substantially as our population ages. Of the top 10 causes of death in the United States, AD is the only disease without any way to prevent, cure or slow the progression. The cost of caring for AD patients has been estimated at over $172 billion annually, and the human toll on patients and family members can be devastating. Patients and families turn to primary care and specialist physicians (e.g., neurologists, psychiatrists, geriatricians) for answers to their plight. The good news for physicians is that research on AD is moving at a rapid pace. Exciting advances in our understanding of AD etiology, early diagnosis and treatment are changing the landscape of dementia care.

Students in this course are offered a dynamic and interactive overview of the most exciting areas of AD clinical and science research from one of the top Alzheimer’s disease research centers in the world. Find out how amyloid plaques and other AD-related abnormalities form in the brain and new discoveries about their possible reversal! The course includes lecture and student presentation components, plus opportunities to observe patients and families in an active neurology memory disorder clinic, participate in neuropathology evaluations of demented individuals, experience and administer psychometric evaluation tools and interact with investigators from the fields of molecular genetics, cell biology and neuropathology.

M35 851 Clinical Aspects of Aging and Dementia

Instructor(s): Joy Snider, MD, PhD, and John C. Morris, MD

Location: Knight Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (ADRC), 4488 Forest Park Ave. (two-story brick building at intersection with Taylor)
Elective Contact: Jennifer Phillips, MPA (coordinator), 314-286-2882,
Other Information: Please contact Jennifer Phillips to discuss what type of elective experience you would like to have.
Erollment limit per period: 1
Valid start weeks for 4-week blocks are: Weeks 9, 13, 17, 21, 33, 37 and 41.

This elective provides the opportunity to learn about clinical research and clinical care in health brain aging and dementia.  Students should contact Dr. Morris or Dr. Snider to discuss this, as this elective is customized based on student interests. This can be a two-week or four-week elective. Students can gain proficiency in interviewing techniques and in the neurologic examination of the geriatric patient, and be introduced to neuropsychology, neuropathology, biomarkers, neuroimaging, genetics, and other biomedical procedures important in the diagnostic evaluation of older adults.  The Knight ADRC is an interdisciplinary group, so students have the opportunity to interact with physicians, nurse clinicians, psychologists, and social workers, and to explore the neuropsychology, neuropathology, biomarkers, neuroimaging, genetics, and other biomedical procedures used in the diagnosis of dementing disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, dementia with Lewy bodies, frontotemporal dementias, cerebrovascular disorders, and affective disorders.

Student time distribution: Varies based on student interest: a typical distribution would be Research and Clinical Patient Evaluation 80%, Conferences/Lectures 20%, Subspecialty Care 100%
Major teaching responsibility: Attending neurologists, psychiatrists, and geriatricians involved in the evaluation of memory and aging
Patients seen/weekly: 6-12
On call/weekend responsibility: None