The Selective Project

The Selective is a two-month independent project completed in the 4th year. It is a capstone experience in which students integrate learning from the first three years of medical school and apply it to a topic of ongoing professional interest. The project can be health intervention, education or research. The majority of students do some type of clinical research, although there is a wide range of topics and methods. Some students have written novels or children’s stories, plays, puppet shows, and completed documentary films on health related topics. Many students (20%) do community Selectives, working with both a community preceptor and a university preceptor. These projects include population health research, health education and the development of new programs. Selective projects are an important way for community agencies to work with medical students and faculty to improve the health of people in their communities.



Proposal Form

Proposal Examples

Paper Examples

Committee Members

Student Website Request Form


Mission Statement

The educational goal of undergraduate medical education is to produce a graduate who is knowledgeable in the practice of primary care medicine and who has been introduced to a variety of clinical specialties and subspecialties. Being a physician also encompasses the roles of researcher, educator and advocate for community health. The Selective Project provides students with the opportunity to establish an in-depth experiential and knowledge base in one of these areas.

Students will design an independent project of research, education or community health. For their chosen topic and area of work, students will learn and apply the appropriate methodology and skills. Students may work individually or with other students on a Selective Project. Students who have done research, community health or education previously, and who wish to continue work in this area, are encouraged to do so. The selective provides an opportunity to build on previous educational experiences and integrate learning from the first three years in the implementation of an independent project.

All students must identify a UConn Health faculty member as a preceptor for this experience. For experiences conducted at other institutions, an onsite preceptor must also be identified. Completion requirements include a formal oral presentation and a paper written in the form of a journal article. Students should follow the guidelines and formatting of a journal appropriate to their topic and methods.


Research skills are important for physicians in their roles as health care providers as well as users of, and participants in, research. Students will know about the general process of developing a research proposal from the Phase 1 curriculum in biostatistics, epidemiology and electives. The Selective Project provides a significant opportunity to develop, conduct and analyze independent research.


To identify the contribution of research to improvement of clinical programs and community health


To acquire research skills and methodologies


To collaborate with colleagues from a variety of fields and subspecialties

The student will:


Identify a research problem


Conduct a literature search


Identify hypotheses and develop an experimental design


Select appropriate methodology


Define time table


Demonstrate flexibility and problem-solving conduct of research


Analyze data


Describe the results in the form of a "journal article" and a professional oral presentation (appropriate audiences include professional meetings, Scholars Groups, UConn Health department seminars, or specially arranged sessions for UConn Health faculty, students, and/or community representatives).


This selective will prepare students for their teaching roles as physicians. This selective should include information on teaching and learning, support for students teaching with faculty, and opportunities for teaching independently. Observation of different teaching styles should be part of the curriculum; there are many opportunities for students to observe teaching styles at the UConn Health. The curriculum may also include videotaping and analysis of presentations as well as presentation of a topic to several different audiences - peers, community people, and faculty.


To prepare students for their educational roles in communities, academic teaching, patient instruction and continuing education


To promote understanding of the process of education


To broaden student teaching experience

The student will:


Identify a medical/health education project


Design an educational activity that includes objectives, content, and teaching and evaluation methods


Use educational methodologies that consider learner needs


Develop and carry out a project evaluation


Describe the results in the form of a "journal article" and a professional oral presentation (appropriate audiences include professional meetings, Scholars Groups, UConn Health department seminars, or specially arranged sessions for UConn Health faculty, students, and/or community representatives).

Community Health Intervention

Public health is an important component in the curriculum. Physicians see sentinel cases representing problems that may have multiple and broad based causes. Therefore, physicians need to be knowledgeable about the communities in which they practice. The community health selective provides an opportunity for students to become knowledgeable about a specific community, assess its health needs, develop and implement a public health intervention and see how that intervention works. While students have opportunities to be involved in community health projects during Phases 1 and 2 of the curriculum, they have to distribute their work over a long period of time and balance their involvement with course work, exams, etc. The selective provides a significant opportunity to concentrate effort on a specific intervention.


To stimulate interest in population health


To develop skills in addressing community health problems


To increase awareness of community resources


To develop understanding of socio-cultural factors which affect health

The student will:


Identify the community in which he/she intends to work and identify a community preceptor and UConn Health faculty preceptor


Identify needs and resources within the chosen population


Design a project to address one of the identified needs


Implement/conduct the project with the approval of the community preceptor and the UConn Health faculty preceptor


Complete an evaluation of the project


Describe the results in the form of a "journal article" and a professional oral presentation (appropriate audiences include professional meetings, Scholars Groups, UConn Health department seminars, or specially arranged sessions for UConn Health faculty, students, and/or community representatives)

Project ideas should be discussed with members of the selectives committee as soon as students have identified their interest. A handbook of potential projects is available on Blackboard and previous student projects are available for review in the Community Based Education Office.

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Guidelines for Minimum Expectations of Students and Advisors for 4th Year Selectives Projects

The student and advisor should meet to discuss project outline, specific objectives, expectations and feasibility.

  • The project should have a succinct hypothesis and research methods and/or clear specifications of methods and outcomes for an education and/or community intervention activity.
  • The student should prepare a project timeline and a schedule for student-advisor meetings for the entire project.
  • IRB applications should be submitted for all research involving human subjects/records and education/health intervention programs. This should occur concurrently with submission of the proposal to the committee. Documentation of IRB approval/exemption is required for project work to begin.

The advisor must review and sign off on the proposal prior to submission. This can be done on the proposal form itself, or by emailing approval to the Course Director, Dr. Stacey Brown, Students doing Selectives outside the University of Connecticut School of Medicine system must have a UConn advisor as well as a site advisor. Please see below for proposal examples. This information will also be available on Blackboard. Questions should be emailed to the above address.

Selective Advisor’s Responsibility

It is the selective advisor’s responsibility to:

  • Work with student to develop proposal.
  • Review and approve the proposal.
  • Help the student revise the proposal in response to Selectives Committee review when this is required.
  • Review the first stage of student work which should include (1) expanded rationale, (2) literature review (minimum of 20 relevant sources), and (3) project focus and methods.
  • Help the student modify the specific research questions and methodology and/or educational/intervention issues and methodologies, and timeline as necessary.
  • Ensure that the student submit to the UConn Health IRB as appropriate (required in most cases).
  • Help the student identify other resources as required for the project, e.g., educational consultation, statistical advice and methodological guidance.
  • Meet with the student to determine next steps in the research or project. Paper deadlines and an oral presentation date should be established. Preferred venues for presentations include professional meetings, Scholars Groups, UConn Health department seminars, and Selectives Symposia.(Note: There are no suggested times for when these meetings should occur because it will be dependent on the nature of the project and the time frame. Some selectives are longitudinal, some are two separate one-month blocks and others are a single block of two months. Meetings with the student should be established according to the nature of the project and the time allocation. This is the minimum number of student-advisor meetings, obviously more are encouraged whenever possible.)
  • Review a draft of the paper and provide feedback. The paper should be written in the format of a professional journal (specific journal will be dependent on the nature of the student’s project). The paper should include an abstract.
  • Observe the oral presentation (when possible) and provide direct feedback to the student.
  • Read and approve the final paper and provide feedback to the student.
  • Submit the evaluation form and narrative about the student’s work.

Student's Responsibility

It is the student’s responsibility to:


  • Review the concept of the selective and gain the advisor’s agreement to serve prior to submitting pre-proposal description.
  • Submit pre-proposal description information, topic, methods, population, advisor name, address and email by due date in June.


  • Work with advisor to develop proposal.
  • Submit proposal two months prior to beginning any work implementing the project.
  • Ensure that all the materials are included with the proposal, IRB submission, advisor approval, dates and complete narrative with appropriate references in text as well as bibliography (see outline).


  • Communicate with the selective advisor on a regular basis.
  • Notify the advisor of any changes, problems or new approaches.
  • Provide the advisor with timely information about scheduled presentation time.
  • Submit the paper to the advisor with sufficient time for review and to make changes in the paper prior to evaluation.
  • Ensure that there are no copyright infringements in the material presented. A template noting that it is a UConn Health student selective should be used for the cover sheet. It is important to use correct citations and attributions for referenced material and images. See student copyright guidelines posted on Blackboard for this template and additional details.

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Proposal Examples

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Paper Examples

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Committee Members

Stacey Brown, Ph.D.
Selectives Chair
Community Based Education

Julian Ford, Ph.D.
Department of Psychiatry

Gordon Carmichael, Ph.D.
Genetics and Developmental Biology

Carolyn Greene, Ph.D.
Department of Psychiatry

Patricia Joyce, M.D.
Burgdorf/Bank of America Health Center

Judy Lewis, M.Phil.
Community Based Education

Rasy Mar, M.P.H.
Community Based Education

Ken Robinson, M.D.
Hartford Hospital Emergency Medicine

Granville Wrensford, Ph.D.
Health Career Opportunity Programs