Independent Investigative Inquiry
The purpose of the III portion of the curriculum is to engage students in activities that will foster the skills of life-long learning essential for practicing physicians in the 21st century. Students will gain experience generating questions related to the practice of medicine and exploring the various methods available to resolve such questions. The student is strongly urged to select a topic of particular interest to him/her and to investigate the subject independently, utilizing the advice of a sponsor and other resources in the WWAMI community. This is a unique opportunity for students to choose both the content and form of their learning and to pursue an interest that may not be included elsewhere in the curriculum.
There are three selectives by which the III requirement can be fulfilled. Each offers the student a different type of learning experience, and each has its own expectations, procedures and deadlines. These are described briefly here; handouts describing each selective in greater detail are forthcoming.
Selective 1: Data Gathering/Hypothesis-driven Inquiry
Selective 1 can take the form of a basic laboratory study, a survey, secondary analysis of an existing dataset, a chart review, a qualitative study or a prospective clinical trial. The research can be initiated by the student or by the sponsoring faculty member, as long as the student has an independent role and makes an intellectual contribution to the project. If a student undertakes research as part of a funded program such as MSRTP or R/UOP-Research, the study can also be used to fulfill the III requirement. For a list of potential Selective 1 funding souces outside of MSRTP and RUOP, please visit http://staff.washington.edu/lambethm/research/opps.html. Contact Mary Lambeth (firstname.lastname@example.org) for the userid & password.
Students selecting this option can expect to learn the steps and logic involved in trying to resolve an empirical question through data collection and analysis. If applicable, students will learn how to conduct research in a way that conforms with human or animal use regulations.
Selective 2: Critical Review of the Literature
In most cases a critical review of the literature involves developing a hypothesis and using published material to derive an answer. Particular attention is paid to the methods of the studies reviewed in addition to the results. Alternatively, students can use published literature and other sources to analyze an issue in medicine or to perform a historical investigation.
Students choosing Selective 2 learn how to use medical databases effectively. They learn how the population and methods employed in a study affect the interpretation of study results. In addition, they learn how to synthesize information from a variety of sources in the form of an evidence table to draw a reasonable conclusion.
Selective 3: Experience-driven inquiry
An experience-driven investigation of an issue will be developed by the student while participating in either the R/UOP, WRITE or CHAP programs. This selective is in its pilot phase, and so the number of students allowed to participate will be limited. Students will closely observe health care in a community setting, then develop a project based on those observations. The project could take several forms, including a community need assessment, a plan for a community health intervention, or evaluation of a service delivery project.
Process. The first step in the process is to submit an Intent Form. Students make an initial determination of which Selective they would like to develop and submit it to the Curriculum Office by April of the first year. If students have applied for any Selective 3 option, such as RUOP or CHAP, they will know by April if they have been selected.
The second step in the process is to submit a proposal for approval by the III Committee. All proposals must be accompanied by a signed sponsor form. For Selective 1 a copy of the IRB student training certificate must accompany the proposal. For Selective 2 a preliminary literature search must accompany the proposal to demonstrate that there are sufficient articles to proceed with the literature review. Only proposals that are complete will be sent to the III Committee. Proposals must be approved by the III Committee prior to initiation of the project or paper. An approval letter will be sent to the student when the III Committee approves the proposed project. Should the committee request changes to the proposals, the Research Advisor will contact the student. When the Research Advisor determines that the proposal is acceptable, the student will receive an approval letter from the III Committee. Proposals must be submitted prior to students’ receiving their third year clerkship track schedules.
The third step is to submit a status report to the Curriculum Office. The status report enables faculty sponsors to provide information and guidance that will be helpful in completing the project and facilitating the sponsor’s final review. Due dates for status reports are noted in the table below.
The fourth step is to submit the final paper along with the signed sponsor’s statement to the Curriculum Office. Students failing to meet the deadline for the final paper may be referred to the Student Progress Committee.The final step is for the Curriculum Office to send the final paper to an independent faculty reviewer at the University of Washington. The faculty reviewer is asked to evaluate the paper using criteria established by the III Committee and to determine if the paper meets the criteria enabling the student to receive credit to meet this graduation requirement.
Waiver. Students who have received Master's or Ph.D. degrees with theses in disciplines basic to medicine or those who are first authors of published papers in peer-reviewed journals may petition for waiver of the requirement. Petitions for waivers must be submitted no later than March 1 of the first year of medical school.
Faculty sponsor. Students choosing Selectives 1 or 2 will work with a faculty sponsor who is affiliated with the WWAMI Program.. The minimum responsibilities of the sponsor are to read and evaluate the plan for the investigation and to approve the final scholarly product.
Final product. For Selectives 1and 2, the student must write a paper related to the investigation. Specific paper guidelines and evaluation criteria differ for each selective and will be described elsewhere. Inasmuch as the writing of the paper is an essential component of the Independent Investigative Inquiry requirement, the student must be the sole author of the paper, even if the student has collaborated with another student or faculty member, or plans to submit a paper for publication under joint authorship. For Selective 3, a paper, poster, or other approved project is acceptable. Papers used to fulfill requirements for other degrees or courses are not acceptable.
Time frame. If the inquiry is started early you will have more opportunity to arrange time in your schedules for your projects. The Medical Student Performance Evaluation, which is prepared in the summer between the third and fourth years of medical school, will list the title and status of your III project. Early submission and satisfactory completion of your project will permit inclusion of this information in the Medical Student Performance Evaluation.
Students choosing Selective 3 who participate in R/UOP or CHAP the summer following the 1st year must have completed their final products by winter of the 2nd year. Students choosing Selectives 1 or 2 must declare their choices by April of the 1st year. The student choosing Selective 1 or 2 must submit a complete petition describing his/her project by February 1 of the 2nd year. If Selective 1 or 2 is chosen, the final paper is due January of the 4th year. For deadline information, please refer to your start year below: