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Scholarly Concentrations


In the Scholarly Concentrations Course, students are guided by course faculty to conduct a scholarly project and prepare a presentation of that project. In doing so, they will acquire skills for self-directed learning and identify options for pursuing an academic career in medicine. The program offers the following five areas of study:

  • Basic Science
  • Clinical Research
  • History of Medicine
  • HEART (Humanism, Ethics, Education, and the Arts of Medicine)
  • Public Health Research

Course Overview

    • Demonstrate the intellectual curiosity to pursue the acquisition of new knowledge and skills necessary to contribute to the field of medicine.
    • Apply rigorous principles and knowledge to create a scholarly objective or hypothesis and plan to address the objective/hypothesis.
    • Present one’s own scholarship and ideas in an organized and clear manner to educate or inform colleagues and the medical community.
    • Demonstrate a critical self-appraisal in knowledge and practice of scholarly inquiry, as well as receive and give constructive appraisal of scholarship to/from colleagues and other healthcare professionals.
    • Adhere to the highest ethical standards of judgment and conduct of scholarship.
  • The Scholarly Concentrations course occupies 55.5 hours in the curriculum over a period of approximately 18 months. With the exception of the course orientation in the early fall, all other contact time with students occurs in 3-day modules during the same weeks as TIME courses, generally on three afternoons between 2-5pm.

    There are four modules in the first year (generally December, February, March, and June) and two modules in the second year (October and January). Students conduct almost all of the work on their scholarly project in unscheduled self-directed learning time, and most do the bulk of the work in the summer between their first and second year.

  • In early fall of Year 1, students attend a required 1.5 hour course orientation that provides an overview of the course objectives and process. At Orientation, students are asked to begin to think about their scholarly interests and to consider which Concentration they would like to join. In choosing a project, students are encouraged to think broadly about what they feel passionate about, what interests them, how they want to spend their summer, and what field of medicine they may wish to enter.

    After the course director presents an overview, each Concentration faculty presents the specific goals and objectives for their Concentration with examples of scholarship that has been done in that Concentration by previous students. We then break into smaller groups so students can discuss their interests with and ask questions of Concentration faculty. The course orientation is the only time when the entire class meets as a whole. Thereafter, for each of the subsequent modules, students meet within their Concentration with their Concentration faculty. 

  • Throughout the remainder of the fall, the course director and all Concentration faculty hold office hours in the Office of Medical Student Research (Room 235) in the Armstrong Medical Education Building (AMEB) – or virtually - for students to discuss their interests or learn more about the Concentrations. Office hours are announced during Orientation and on Blackboard with reminders sent to student emails.

  • Students are asked to select a concentration at the end of November.

  • Modules 1 - 4 occur in the first year of medical school. During this time, students are introduced to varied examples of scholarship within the Concentration and are given guidance regarding their own independent project. The first few modules are often about how to find a research mentor and define a research question or scholarly aim. Later modules focus on human subject protection (including IRB approval) and logistical issues related to the conduct of the project. Each Concentration has a somewhat different schedule or approach based on what works best for that discipline.

  • Most students elect to conduct work for their scholarly project during the summer between first and second year.  Students who do this are eligible for elective credit through the registrar.

    Students who are working with a Hopkins faculty member are also eligible for summer research funding through the Office of Medical Student Research and Scholarship. Concentration faculty schedule mid-summer check-in meetings with students.

  • Some students come into the Scholarly Concentrations course with ideas about which mentors they want to work with, and what topics they want to work on. Other students are undecided about what they want to do or with whom they would want to work with.

    During the course, Concentration faculty help those students identify their interests and potential mentors. Students are also encouraged to explore the Mentor Resource Kit. You must be connected to the Johns Hopkins network in order to access the site.

  • Modules 5 - 6 occur in the second year of medical school, and most students have had an opportunity to conduct the bulk of the work for their project in the preceding summer. These modules are spent reviewing progress, brainstorming on challenges, and discussing how to present the project in an abstract, poster, or oral format. Each Concentration has a somewhat different schedule or approach based on what works best for that discipline.

  • Throughout the year, there are four basic written assignments:

    • Project proposal
    • Summer progress report
    • Project abstract
    • Poster or oral presentation

    Each assignment has a preliminary and final version.  Faculty provide written or oral individualized feedback to students on each assignment – both preliminary (formative feedback) and final (summative feedback) versions.

    Assignments are submitted on a website developed for Scholarly Concentrations, Assignment Manager. Assignment Manager is designed to automatically prompt students of upcoming due dates and overdue assignments. In addition, mentors and Concentration faculty can view student assignments and comment directly in Assignment Manager.

  • The final event of the course is Medical Student Research Symposium (MSRS). All students (preclinical and clinical) are excused from their curricular activities for this afternoon event regardless of whether or not they are presenting. Awards are given to students through the Office of Medical Student Research and Scholarship.

  • The Scholarly Concentrations course provides students with professional assistance for both data management (for students who conduct primary data collection) and statistical analysis (for those with quantitative projects).

    Statisticians and data management consultants from the Biostatistics Consulting Center are available for one-on-one meetings in the spring and summer (data management) and summer and fall (biostatistics).


Research Electives

Many students at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine decide to spend more time dedicated to mentored research with a Johns Hopkins faculty member. In some cases, the student may elect to do mentored research at another institution. In these cases, students can explore and register for electives through the Registrar’s office. Please note that you must register for all research electives prior to beginning your experience. Please refer to the Registrar for more details.

Visit the Electives Book: Johns Hopkins School of Medicine for more information.

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