Share this article on:

Encouraging Scholarship: Medical School Programs to Promote Student Inquiry Beyond the Traditional Medical Curriculum

Green, Emily P. MA; Borkan, Jeffrey M. MD, PhD; Pross, Susan H. PhD; Adler, Shelley R. PhD; Nothnagle, Melissa MD; Parsonnet, Julie MD; Gruppuso, Philip A. MD

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e3181cd3e00
Scholarly Concentrations

Many medical curricula now include programs that provide students with opportunities for scholarship beyond that provided by their traditional, core curricula. These scholarly concentration (SC) programs vary greatly in focus and structure, but they share the goal of producing physicians with improved analytic, creative, and critical-thinking skills. In this article, the authors explore models of both required and elective SC programs. They gathered information through a review of medical school Web sites and direct contact with representatives of individual programs. Additionally, they discuss in-depth the SC programs of the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University; the University of South Florida College of Medicine; the University of California, San Francisco; and Stanford University School of Medicine. The authors describe each program's focus, participation, duration, centralization, capstone requirement, faculty involvement, and areas of concentration. Established to address a variety of challenges in the U.S. medical education system, these four programs provide an array of possible models for schools that are considering the establishment of an SC program. Although data on the impact of SC programs are lacking, the authors believe that this type of program has the potential to significantly impact the education of medical students through scholarly, in-depth inquiry and longitudinal faculty mentorship.

Ms. Green is assistant director of medical student affairs and manager, Scholarly Concentrations Program, Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island.

Dr. Borkan is professor and chair of family medicine, and chair, Scholarly Concentrations Committee and Curriculum Committee, Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island.

Dr. Pross is associate professor and director, Scholarly Concentrations Program, University of South Florida College of Medicine, Tampa, Florida.

Dr. Adler is associate professor, Department of Family and Community Medicine/Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, and areas of concentration director, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California.

Dr. Nothnagle is assistant professor of family medicine and codirector, Women's Reproductive Health, Freedom, and Rights Scholarly Concentration Area, Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island.

Dr. Parsonnet is George DeForest Barnett Professor in Medicine and professor of health research and policy, and was previously (2001-2006) senior associate dean for medical education, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California.

Dr. Gruppuso is professor of pediatrics, professor of molecular biology, cell biology, and biochemistry (research), and associate dean for medical education, Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island.

Please see the end of this article for information about the authors.

Correspondence should be addressed to Ms. Green, Warren Alpert Medical School, Box G-B203, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912; e-mail:

© 2010 Association of American Medical Colleges