Uploaded image electives

Each semester, a selection of short electives may be offered on both campuses to interested RVU students across all programs. These electives may cover topics just touched on in the normal curriculum and/or may involve current hot topics in medical training. Current offerings include Global Medical Outreach, Graphic Novels in Medicine, History of MedicineMedical Spanish, Religion, Health and Healthcare, Fundamentals of East Asian Medicine, and Medicine in Film.

All students in good academic standing are eligible to sign up for an elective, and may take up to two electives at one time. Some electives are open to all programs, others are strictly for the COM. Each course will designate its specifics in this regard. Course titles, descriptions and registration information will be announced prior to the start of each semester. Classes will be approximately 8-16 hours in length, may occur at any time outside of the normal curriculum (i.e. evenings and weekends) and graded pass/fail. These electives are offered through the Department of Tracks and Special Programs in partnership with the  Department of Humanities.


What's New?

The Tracks and Special Programs Department works to add new, relevant electives each year. Some upcoming elective topics MAY include:

1. Vaccines I - Starting Spring 2022 semester, course director, Dr. Ben Brooks bbrooks@rvu.edu

2. Nutrition - in the planning stages by Dr. Jensen, hoping to start Fall 2022

3. Intro to Research - being planned by Dr. Isain Zapata for Fall 2022, we hope

4. Ultrasound with Dr. Gao - just in the early planning stages

Note: not all electives are offered every semester.

Electives Information



Once the course directors have completed their rosters, your campus admin will complete the Registrar's official registration form. You will receive an email stating you have been registered for the class. 

All inquiries about this process can be brought to the attention of the course director or your Tracks & Special Programs Administrative Assistants: Becky Steenburg in CO, rsteenburg@rvu.edu; or Judy Simmons in UT, jsimmons@rvu.edu.


Uploaded image global medical outreach


GMO - Available CO/UT

This is an RVUCOM medical outreach elective opportunity. Open to all M1 and M2 medical students. The Goal of this course are to provide medical students a cross-cultural medical education experience through study and work outside of the United States, understand its challenges and apply the knowledge learned to their practice of medicine.

The locations of this outreach service may be in Central or South America. The medical outreach segment of the program will occupy 1 week. During this time, students will see patients under the supervision of faculty and other licensed healthcare providers. They are usually paired with an M3 or M4 student performing a related Clinical Externship. Students will be provided the opportunity to provide diagnostic and patient care services, participate in preventive and public health events as well as work in areas such as minor surgery, pharmacy, triage, and clinical laboratory settings.

Faculty will engage students in discussions of medical issues in a problem-solving format, while working with the patients, during lunch or as assigned. Students will be guided by their health care provider in honing their skills in presenting patients and in the assessment and treatment of patients under the conditions of limited resources found in many rural settings and countries that are the object of the outreach programs of RVUCOM. Faculty and students will demonstrate a holistic, culturally sensitive and osteopathic approach to the delivery of medical care while on site.

Students live, eat, work and travel as a group. Anyone not adhering to the COM Conduct Policy will be required to leave; be reported to the Student Progress Committee and may forfeit any elective credits earned for participation in this course.


Uploaded image history of medicine


HOM - Open to all students, all programs, across both campuses

With three different topics, History of Epidemics, Dark Medicine, and Sex & Sexuality, this course is fresh every semester it is offered. Open to all RVU programs, this course seeks to examine the role of doctors, patients, diseases and society’s reaction to them over time and asks how medicine, disease and health have been motors for change.  Each session encourages its participants to understand how contemporary medicine differs from, but is indelibly marked by its past.

Uploaded image religion, health, & healthcare

RHH - Available across both campuses

Religion, Health, and Healthcare explores relationships between religious beliefs and the health and care of patients.

  • The course, which combines social and clinical perspectives for healthcare professionals, fosters:
    • understanding of religious traditions that both complement and complicate healthcare;
    • critical thinking about research about spirituality and health and about material explanations of religious experience; and
    • cultural competencies that improve communication with patients and collaboration with hospital chaplains and other caregivers


  • The course neither advocates or criticizes religious traditions, but develops knowledge, skills, and attitudes that enable students to communicate with and care for patients across traditions and to think critically and empathetically about the role that religion plays as a variable in health and healthcare
  • The course begins with a short introductory lecture that orients the group to the topic and readings, continues with independent reading, research, and preparation for discussion

 graphic novels in medicine


GN - open to all students, all programs, across both campuses

This course is designed to stimulate robust discussion and examination of human emotion surrounding illness and how non-clinical forces impact the medical system experience. Students are encouraged to participate in discussion and reflection on their own experiences as well as those of their peers using graphic novels as the springboard. This course has four different sections, so it is fresh every time it is offered.

This course has been designed to target the critical topic of humanism in medicine through a literary lens. Students will read a number of texts that will be discussed as a group. An informal structure, reminiscent of modern day book clubs, has been chosen to allow each student to deeply engage with the material in a safe and supportive environment. As such, student engagement will be critical.

The course is specialized in the sense that we will be focusing specifically on graphic novels. Graphic novels are similar to comic books in that they have panel-style illustrations that accompany text. However, while comic books are often released as periodicals, graphic novels tell an entire story in one volume. Additionally, they often have more detailed plots, reaching a deeper level of character development in a shorter amount of time.

      Uploaded image medical spanish

MS - Sponsored out of Utah, this elective is available to all COM students on both campuses

This course is open to all RVUCOM students, faculty and staff.

The knowledge and effective use of medical Spanish is paramount for any new physician. This course takes a student’s remedial Spanish and turns it into a useful tool for bilingual clinical experiences by introducing the practical language skills used in clinical settings to assist with the interaction of Spanish speaking patients. This includes an emphasis on the common medical vocabulary that health care workers may encounter in the workplace. The overall course goals are:

• To encourage those in the health professions overcome language barriers they may face when dealing with Spanish Speaking patients.

• Question patients and ordain yes and no responses about patient status or complaints.

• Inform or instruct patients using professional vocabulary.

• Recognize cultural differences among Spanish speaking groups and the common health remedies practiced by each group.

Uploaded image medicine in film

MIF - currently open to all students, all programs, on both campuses

Open to all programs, this brand new course will use film as a medium for discussion of ethical, humanitarian, and professional topics relevant to healthcare professionals.


Uploaded image  fundamentals of east asian medicine


FEAM - Available across both campuses

This elective course introduces the fundamental principles of acupuncture and oriental medicine. Students will receive a brief overview of the history and foundations of ancient East Asian medicine, and the theoretical principles surrounding 8-Principle, 5-Element, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and other popular treatment approaches.