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Indiana University School of Medicine

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/ Education  /   Phase 3 (Year 4)  /   Scheduling



Phase 3 scheduling occurs in multiple stages to ensure students meet graduation requirements and are well-prepared for residency. Prioritization and scheduling are based on each student’s declared specialty interest to ensure all students receive clinical experiences and letters of recommendation that enhance residency applications.

Quick Resources

Scheduling Overview

  • Stage 1: Prioritizes core required clinical rotations and occurs in late fall during Phase 2. These rotations are the highest priority and are most difficult to reschedule.
  • Stage 2: allows students to select customized electives for residency preparation and graduation requirements. This phase occurs in early spring during Phase 2 and is broken into four parts.
  • Stage 3: Monitor course enrollments to ensure graduation and enrollment requirements are met. During this stage, all course drop/add requests must be approved by the Lead Advisor in addition to course directors.
  • Stage 4: allows students to select their Transitions 3 track during early fall of their Phase 3. Occurs later in the scheduling process to ensure students can select the T3 residency preparedness track that is most closely aligned with their future intended specialty and scheduling plans.

Scheduling Timeline

Important note: Most scheduling occurs during Phase Two (Year 2)

Part 1: Required RotationsPart 2: Electives
Stage 1Stage 2Stage 3Stage 4
DecemberEarly-Mid JanuaryFebruary

March-Ongoing Academic Year
September of Phase 3
Schedule required rotationsMeet with career mentor and lead advisor to discuss plan for elective scheduling in light of core rotation schedule, Step 2 plan, away rotations, and interviewsSchedule electivesEnsure graduation and enrollment requirements are metSchedule Transitions 3

May features graduation activities but is otherwise unscheduled time to prepare for graduation and prepare to transition into residency. This period may be used to complete graduation requirements only in exceptional circumstances subject to approval by Medical Student Education deans.

General approach to Phase 3 scheduling

IUSM has developed a staged process for scheduling that allows our statewide school to provide every student with an outstanding clinical education, complemented by a panel of individualized electives and plenty of time for vacation, Step 2 preparation, research, residency interviews, and other personalized goals. Additional flexibility is built in to accommodate the common changes that occur as students receive away rotation offers, interview requests, changes of career goals, adjust Step 2 plans, and so forth.

Students can obtain the most benefit and reduce stress from the scheduling process by setting flexible goals that are robust to scheduling availability and schedule changes. For example, let’s say Sam Student plans to apply to Emergency Medicine and plans to complete the EM clerkship, an away rotation, dedicate one month for Step 2 preparation, and schedule an additional rotation for a letter of recommendation during the first 4 rotations of Phase 3 in order to generate a strong application to Emergency Medicine residencies prior to the opening date for ERAS, which is expected in Rotation 5. Sam initially sets a rigid goal, i.e. has each month planned out exactly in order to have a “perfect” schedule. Sam’s faculty mentor points out that the challenge with this approach is that it is not very robust to scheduling changes and it is not possible to guarantee specific months for clinical rotations or away rotations.  After Sam’s mentor advising setting more flexible goals, Sam sets robust, flexible goals that look something like this:

  • Clerkship in my planned specialty: Rotation 1, 2, 3, or 4. Highest preference for rotation 1 or 2.
  • Away rotation: Also during Rotation 1, 2, 3, or 4, and my highest preference is to take it the month after my clerkship here, if possible
  • Step 2: Preferably in rotation 3, but I could take it in rotation 1, 2, 3, or 4.
  • Letter of Recommendation rotation: I have the most flexibility with this rotation because I could ask for a strong letter of recommendation on my Sub-I, Critical Care, or one of several available electives. If something comes up, I also have a good letter from a Phase 2 clerkship to fall back on.
  • Sam also reflects that a few other clerkships were really enjoyable and those specialties could be personally fulfilling in the long term, and it is hard to make a lifelong commitment halfway through the third year of medical school. Knowing that many students explore or change career preferences early into their 4th year, Sam therefore considers an alternative plan for general surgery in case of a change of career goal over the coming months.

Your career faculty mentor and lead advisor can also help you to set flexible goals, allowing you to get everything you need out of your 4th year of medical school while also really enjoying your final year of medical school.

Stage 1: Required Rotations and Vacation Time Details

Required Rotations

Students must schedule all Required Clinical Rotations during this part of the scheduling process (see information above for required clinical rotations by class year).

Vacation Time

While scheduling required rotations, students have the opportunity to designate priority periods to protect for vacation time. During elective scheduling, students can use any unscheduled time for vacation or flexible time for rescheduling rotations. There is no single optimal placement of vacation time; times should fit each student’s schedule as it develops. Protecting rotations for vacation time as a placeholder for possible “away” rotations or special electives that have not yet been approved or scheduled is not recommended.

Historically, students have used vacations for personal needs (as noted in the scheduling instructions, please give us this information in the comments section), wellness, preparation for Step 2 exams, or times when they expect to have many residency interviews.

As you plan your schedule with the help of your advisors, bear in mind that the required Phase 3 rotations are intensive experiences to prepare you for your first year of residency. Even though Medical Student Education has worked to create additional time-away flexibility, these rotations are important portions of your education that have limited capacity for absences. Following the selection and verification of your initial required rotations and vacation, the next phase of scheduling will open for the electives that complete your personalized senior schedule and meet all of your graduation requirements.

Stage 2: Elective Scheduling Details

Part 1

The first part of elective requests occurs early February and focuses on the first six rotations (May, June, July, August, September, and October). These are the most crucial rotations for faculty letters of recommendation and preparing for residency applications. Once this request period closes, all requests are processed based on career specialty interest (including whether or not you received a Sub-I in your area of career interest), availability, and time of request (if needed).

Part 2

The second part of elective requests occurs mid-February and again focuses on the first six rotations so that students who were not able to get what they requested in the first part can make different requests for those months. As in the first part, all requests are processed based on career specialty interest (including whether or not you received a Sub-I in your area of career interest), availability, and time of request (if needed).

PLEASE NOTE: The registrar does everything they can to make sure students who did not get a Sub-I in their career interest area will get an early elective instead. This ensures that all students have the rotations that they need to get the opportunity for faculty letters of recommendation for their specialties.

Part 3

The third part is an open request period that occurs in mid-to-late February and is for any elective month. The requests are processed based on availability, time of request (if necessary), and career specialty interest (if necessary).

Part 4

The fourth part of elective requests begins in March and entails ongoing adds/drops that continue throughout the academic year. To request an elective at this point, you need course director or proxy (whoever is listed in the elective course catalog as the contact) permission and lead advisor permission to add any elective. Permissions must be attached to all requests in E*Value and must be specific to the month you are requesting.  Please do not forward permission to the registrar via email.  Elective requests are processed on a weekly or bi-weekly basis throughout the remainder of the year.

Special Electives and Away Rotations Details

Away Rotations

Coordination  of away rotations is a complex process and will also involve completing host school/program application requirements. Many of these opportunities are accessed through the AAMC VSAS website. However, some institutions have their own application process. 

Away rotations are not mandatory and many IU School of Medicine students do not complete any. The importance of doing away rotations varies by discipline and should be discussed with a career mentor or with the Career Development team along with a lead advisor. The application timing for away rotations varies by discipline and location. It is important to remember that many students apply for these opportunities nationally. Therefore, rotation timing and acceptance is unpredictable. The Office of the Registrar will make every effort to work these opportunities into student schedules upon admittance to the away rotation opportunity.

For more information, check out the required documents and timeline listed under the Special Elective Procedures for Phase 3 Students on MedNet.

Special Electives

View the procedures and timelines for special electives that are outlined in the Electives Policies and Procedures. There is also a Special Elective Request Form.


General FAQs

During which clinical experiences should I focus on getting letters of recommendation?

Clinical experiences and opportunities for faculty reference letters may come from several sources, including sub-Internships, other Phase 3 core rotations, Advanced Clinical Electives (ACE), other Clinical Practice electives, or Special Electives. ACE rotations will allow students to actively participate in a robust clinical experience as an integrated member of a health care team, with a focus on progressive responsibilities, professional development and career readiness.

Do we rank the order we schedule each rotation?

The preferencing screen allows students to show which rotation they want, where they want to complete it, and when they want to complete it. If a center has a spot during the time they want the rotation, students can preference that center. The centers do not have spots for Indianapolis students in all clerkships for all rotations. Students enter their preferences in order from top to bottom with their highest choice at the top. The Registrar’s office works to accommodate as many student preferences as possible.

Do we get to rank which hospital we do each rotation?

Not through the Registrar’s office. Students will be asked by each clerkship to rank their preferences for site and sometimes service for that specific clerkship. The only exception to this is for Emergency Medicine in Phase 3. Students can preference Emergency Medicine by rotation and site during the initial preferencing process in December.

I don’t see my question in the FAQs. Who do I go to with additional questions?

If you have questions about requesting electives in E*Value, please contact Amanda Ybarra.

If you have questions about special and away (VSLO) electives scheduling, please contact Nancy Mitchell.

General Elective FAQs

If I decide to drop an elective, what is the deadline to drop it?

You cannot add or drop electives within 30 days of the start of an elective.

How do I sign up for “by permission only” electives?

You must attach permission to a request for any of the electives listed as “by permission only” in the electives catalog. You should secure permission as soon as elective requests open in January of your third year.

I already know all of the electives I want to take for the entire academic year. Can I go ahead and just add all of my requests, regardless of the stage of elective scheduling?

No. Any elective requests entered prior to the start date for each stage phase will not be processed—please follow the instructions and timeline from the registrar. The purpose of this process is to ensure fair scheduling to meet the career and professional development needs of all students.

I really enjoyed the Clinical Practice elective I took during Phase 2. Can I take the same course during Phase 3?

You cannot take the same clinical elective for credit more than once, including one that you might have taken during Phase 2.

I would like to get ahead on my Phase 3 requirements by taking an elective during Phase 2. Are there any restrictions on taking electives during Phase 2?

Yes, there are certain restrictions for third-year electives. Some electives are only available to Phase 3 students. The course listing in the elective catalog will specify if an elective is open to enrollment of Phase 2 students.

I see an elective I’m interested in taking in another elective academic year catalog. Is that course still offered and may I request it?

If an elective is not listed in the elective course catalog for the academic year you are requesting, then it is not being offered. While you may wish to plan ahead by looking at the current year catalog before the next academic year’s catalog is released, bear in mind that the elective catalog is updated annually. Please be sure to look at the elective catalog for the correct academic year when choosing the courses you want to take.

Special Elective FAQs

I had a really great experience working with a particular practice, but they don’t offer an official elective course. Is there a way for me to complete an elective rotation with them even though there isn’t a course to choose from in the electives catalog?

Yes. As long as you have permission from someone at the site, you can propose a special elective rotation for an opportunity that is not offered in the regular course catalog. Please see the procedures and timelines for special electives that are outlined in the Electives Policies and Procedures. There is also a Special Elective Request Form.

Do I need to have all of the details for a special elective rotation figured out before I start the elective scheduling process?

No. A special elective request does not need to be submitted until one month prior to the start of the rotation. For example, if you were to propose doing a special elective during February of your fourth year then the request form would be due by January 1 of your fourth year.