An observational study of an approach to accommodate a fourth-year to third-year neurology clerkship curricular transition

Jeff A. Kraakevik, Meredith Frederick, Nicole Ryan, Leslie A. Haedinger, Patricia A. Carney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Curricular transformation can result in bulges in students’ clinical placements. Objective: To report on learner outcomes associated with a competency-based opt-out approach for a required 4th-year neurology clerkship. Methods and Study Design: During Oregon Health & Science University’s recent undergraduate medical education curricular transformation, a 4-week required neurology clerkship transitioned from the fourth-year to the third-year in academic year 2016–17. Because this would have resulted in the neurology clerkship accommodating double enrollment for an entire academic year, 4th year medical students from the prior curriculum (graduating class of 2017) were offered the option of opting-out of the required neurology clerkship if they demonstrated competency by passing the USA National Board of Medical Examiners (US-NBME) clinical neurology subject examination and completing a neurology faculty-observed history and complete neurological examination. Results: Fifty-seven of 133 fourth-year students (42.9%) chose to complete the required neurology clerkship with 77 (57.9%) choosing to opt-out. All opt-out students passed the neurological exam assessment and scored similarly to the students who took the clerkship (US-NBME Neurology Subject Exam mean raw score in the opt-out group 76.9 vs, 77.6; p = 0.61). Students grades did not differ. Students who opted-out tended to pursue surgical careers (e.g., general surgery −10.8% opted-out vs 0% clerkship, OB/GYN–6.8% opted-out vs 0% clerkship, orthopedic surgery 5.4% opted-out vs 0% clerkship) where those who took the clerkship tended to choose medical residency training disciplines (family medicine −16.1% clerkship vs 10.8% opting-out; internal medicine–32.1% clerkship vs 14.9% opting-out; psychiatry 10.7% clerkship vs 2.7% opting-out (p = 0.042) Conclusion: While undertaking the neurology clerkship would have been the desired approach, students appear not to have been harmed by the opt-out approach regarding performance on the US-NBME clinical neurology subject exam. Choices regarding opting-out versus taking the neurology clerkship appear to be associated with career choice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1710331
JournalMedical Education Online
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • Clerkship Curriculum
  • Competency-based education
  • Undergraduate Medical Education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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