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Scholarly Pathways Program

Scholarly Pathways Program


Scholarly Pathways are a required component of our curriculum for all First and Second Year students, with an option to continue in the Third Year. Our Scholarly Pathways allow students to individualize their medical training while working with peers and faculty mentors to pursue an area of common interest in greater depth.

Each of the Pathways features two components: 1) a structured curriculum with a core set of competencies delivered through monthly workshops, or core sessions; and 2) flexible, experiential noncore enrichment activities guided by a faculty advisor and an Individualized Learning Plan (ILP) designed to apply core concepts in a variety of settings.  By the end of the Third Year, all students complete and present a scholarly project.

Faculty Resources

Faculty Pathway Project Proposal Form

This form is for a faculty member to propose a scholarly project for one or more medical students in an MCW Pathway.

Handbook for Faculty (PDF)

This handbook is intended to provide faculty serving as Advisors and Project Mentors with information needed to support student achievement in the Scholarly Pathways.

Pathway Advisor Expectations (PDF)

You have been asked to serve as a Pathway Advisor. This letter is to offer some guidance on what the role entails.

Teaching Toolbox


  • Gallery
  • Newsletters
  • Pathways
  • Scholarly Project
  • Community
  • Honors/Degrees



The Scholarly Pathways culminate with an Annual M-3 Scholarship Forum. The program features a selected number of podium presentations, and poster presentations from students in all of the Scholarly Pathways. Projects represent research in the basic, clinical and social sciences, curricular innovations and teaching, quality improvement initiatives, and community engaged projects to address health disparities in Milwaukee and abroad.


May/June 2016 (PDF)

Mentor Minute: Leadership Changes

April 2016 (PDF)


March 2016 (PDF)

Mentor Minute: Authorship

January 2016 (PDF)

Mentor Minute: Advising M2s about M3 options

November-December 2015 (PDF)

Mentor Minute: Aligning Expectations

October 2015 (PDF)

Mentor Minute: Effective Mentoring

September 2015 (PDF)

Updates and Teaching Tips for Advisors and Mentors

May/June 2015 (PDF)

Scholarship Forum

April 2015 (PDF)

Community Engaged Service Learning

March 2015 (PDF)

Mentor Minute: Applications for M3 Pathways

January/February 2015 (PDF)

Mentor Minute: Welcome New and Returning Advisors!

December 2014 (PDF)

Mentor Minute: Monitoring Progress - Midterm Assessments

October 2014 (PDF)

Mentor Minute: Independent Learning Plans

September 2014 (PDF)

Mentor Minute: Pathway Advisors Needed!

May/June 2014 (PDF)

Mentor Minute: Year-End Events

April 2014 (PDF)

Mentor Minute: Collaboration and Authorship

March 2014 (PDF)

Mentor Minute: Glassick's Criteria

February 2014 (PDF)

Mentor Minute: Directing to Resources

January 2014 (PDF)

Mentor Minute: M3 Pathways

November/December 2013 (PDF)

Mentor Minute: Aligning Expectations


Pathways information

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Bioethics PathwayBioethics Pathway Directors

Cynthiane Morgenweck, MD, MA

Ryan Spellecy, PhD

The Bioethics Pathway will enable medical students to integrate the knowledge and tools of bioethics as an essential part of his or her career as a physician through a variety of activities that encompass close reading of the bioethics scholarly literature, discussion, and application through clinical ethics, research ethics and ethics teaching activities in a comprehensive curriculum. These activities will provide medical students the opportunity to develop their ethics skills in a variety of areas, including but not limited to clinical ethics consultation, research ethics, and participation and leadership in institutional ethics committees.

Examples of core sessions include:

  • Bioethics: Isn’t it all just a matter of opinion?
  • History of Medical Ethics
  • Ethics Committees and Consultation
  • Research Ethics and Regulations
  • Law and Bioethics
  • Specialty Ethics: Pediatrics, Ob/Gyn, Surgery, Psychiatry, Emergency Medicine
  • Ethical patient care in times of disaster/pandemic
  • Ethical issues in Genomic/Personalized Medicine
  • Culture, Profession, and the Virtues of Medicine

Examples of non-core hours

  • Bioethics Monthly sessions and Theme Days
  • Student/Resident led reflective writing workshops focusing on ethical issues
  • Bioethics Interest Group
  • Student-led Research Review Panel
  • Medical Humanities Annual Visiting Guest Series
  • Salient Film Series (focusing on professionalism)
  • Community Based Book Readings (e.g. Rebecca Skloot, the Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks/Pauline Chen, MD, Final Exam: A Surgeon’s Reflections on Mortality)


  Clinician Educator

Clinician Educator Pathway

Clinician Educator Director

Karen Marcdante, MD

The Clinician Educator Pathway is designed for students interested in teaching and learning in medical education.  Students will gain skills in teaching in the clinical setting, learn how to apply educational principles to their teaching, and develop a scholarly educational product.  Core sessions include hands on activities complimented by readings/projects.

Pathway activities address:

  • Developing skills to teach in various settings
  • Learning about how adults learn and different styles of learning
  • Developing instruction for medical students, residents, and other health care practitioners
  • Advising/mentoring peers and others
  • Designing evaluation tools
  • Leading groups involved in education


  Global Health Pathway

Global Health Pathway

Stephen Hargarten, MD, MPH
GH Pathway Director

The Global Health Pathway is designed for students interested in understanding the unique healthcare needs of patients, families, and communities from  a neighborhoods to nations perspective. It prepares student for the challenges of working in these areas of the world with diverse health care resources. Core curriculum topics are consistent with those proposed by the Consortium of Universities for Global Health and other medical schools that have long been on the forefront of global health education and research. Pathway activities are coordinated with the office of the Associate Dean for Global Health.

Examples of Core Session Topics:

  • Disaster management and preparedness
  • Health care delivery systems
  • Refugee, immigrant and adoptee
  • Injury prevention and control
  • The global burden of disease - trends, epidemiology and non-communicable disease
  • Skill building for working in diverse resourced conditions
  • Skill building in communicating across languages and cultures
  • Telemedicine

Non-core Individual Activities include:

  • Working in local clinics and with organizations that serve immigrant, refugee or non-US born patients.
  • Researching and studying specific global health issues
  • Developing and implementing health education initiatives in the community
  • Learning about opportunities on overseas experiences during summer and spring breaks
  • Basic science topics: vaccine development, toxins, drug discovery for neglected tropical diseases, immunopathogens of infectious diseases

GH Pathway Information & Resources

Global Health Pathway Core Competencies (PDF)

MCW Global Health Program

  Health Systems Management and Policy

Health Systems Management and Policy Pathway

John Meurer, MD, MBA

William Hueston, MD

The HSMP Pathway will help students understand health policy and the business and economics of medicine. It will also provide students with leadership skills so that they can participate in the changes needed for the U.S. health care system to improve and thrive. The goal of this Pathway is to provide a working knowledge of the health care systems for students who have an interest in pursuing administrative and leadership roles in their future, who would like to effectively advocate for the development and implementation of health policies, and who desire a deeper understanding of how health care is structured and delivered so that they will be a more valuable member or a leader in their health care organization in the future.

Core components include:

  • Health systems in the U.S. and in developed countries
  • The health systems workforce in the United States
  • How health care is financed
  • Quality and variation in health care
  • Population health
  • Advocacy in health care


  Physician Scientist: Clinical and Translational Research

Physician Scientist: Clinical and Translational Research Pathway

David C. Brousseau, MD, MS
PS Pathway Director

The CTR Pathway is for students interested in complementing their clinical development with the skills required to become clinician-scientists. Through core sessions and a mentored research project, students gain an understanding of the way clinical and translational research improves patient care. This Pathway uses a hypothesis driven research project to provide the student an individualized research experience allowing for the development of research skills. Core components include:

  • Basic epidemiologic and study design principles

  • Scientific writing and presentations

  • Ethics of research

  • An individualized, mentored research project

CTR Pathway Activities:

  • Monthly Pathway Physician Scientist Activities Include: Core sessions involving both large group and small group activities.  The activities are intended to improve research skills and further the completion of a research project.

  • Activity examples include: authorship, abstract writing and review, and manuscript preparation.

  • Small group sessions allow for students to present their research and receive critiques from fellow students and faculty.


Contact Us

Pathways staff are located in the Academic Affairs Office, Suite M3215.

General Inquiries

Pathways Team Lead
Physician Scientist

Clinical & Translational Research
Molecular & Cellular Research
Meaghan Hayes, MEd
(414) 955-2812

Urban & Community Health, Global Health and Health Systems Management & Policy Pathways Coordinator:
Sarah Leineweber
(414) 955-2811

Bioethics, Clinician Educator, Quality Improvement & Patient Safety
Jen Kraus
(414) 955-2286


  Physician Scientist: Molecular and Cellular Research
Physician Scientist: Molecular and Cellular Research Pathway

The MCR Pathway provides core research skills in the area of basic science research. This Pathway is focused on competencies that can be gained from scientific research that are transferable to clinical practice, including communication (oral and written), time management, information gathering, critical thinking/critical assessment (i.e. data analysis, critical reading of scientific literature), and problem solving. Students learn to work in teams and/or independently. Core components include:

  • First-hand experience in the acquisition and synthesis of new knowledge

  • In-depth understanding of a health-related issue through research

  • A mentoring relationship with a faculty mentor outside the usual course structure

  • Summary of experience or findings in a written document

  • Critical thinking skills and independent learning



  Quality Improvement and Patient Safety

Quality Improvement and Patient Safety Pathway


Catherine (Cassie) Ferguson, MD QuIPS Pathway Director

Catherine (Cassie) Ferguson, MD
QuIPS Pathway Director

Quality Improvement and Patient Safety (QuIPS) provides students with the core principles and skills necessary to understand and analyze the systems-based aspects of patient care, to actively engage in quality improvement work, and to enhance patient safety with the of achieving the best possible health outcomes for patients.

The Quality Improvement and Patient Safety Pathway offers three themes:

  • Learning to optimize systems of care and functions as a member of the healthcare teams
  • Principles of Safety and Medical Error
  • Development of Quality Improvement skills


  • Understand basic terminology of quality improvement and patient safety
  • Understand the basic concepts of systems as they apply to patient care.
  1. Understand the basic concepts of process mapping
  2. Define safety in systems and human factors science
  3. Understand the concept of medical error and the importance of systems versus individual accountability
  • Assess the gap between existing practices and best practices
  • Describe the importance of disclosure following adverse events
  • Describe the basic principles of quality improvement tools including rapid cycle change, six-sigma and lean
  • Participate in a quality improvement project
  • Organize and develop a written description of a quality improvement effort in a manner suitable for presentation
  • Participate in the management of an adverse event
  1. Perform a root cause analysis
  2. Demonstrate the importance of disclosure following adverse events
  • Evaluate successful and failed PI projects.

QuIPS Pathway Information

Additional Resources


  Urban & Community Health Pathway

Urban & Community Health Pathway Pathway 

Linda Meurer, MD, MPH
Director, Urban and Community Health Pathway

Both population health and patient-centered care perspectives recognize the influence of lifestyle, socio-economic factors, community resources and environmental hazards on morbidity, mortality and well-being. The Urban & Community Health (UCH) Pathway links education with community needs and assets, to prepare students to effectively care for patients in urban communities, promote community health, and reduce health disparities.


Pathway activities address:

  •     The balance between biologic and non-biologic determinants of health
  •     Medical conditions that disproportionately affect urban, underserved populations
  •     Disparities in health, healthcare access and quality in urban settings
  •     Community-based educational strategies to promote healthy behaviors
  •     Partnership with public health and community agencies to meet health/ healthcare needs
  •     Civic-engagement and leadership skills, including the ability to advocate for patients, communities and systems changes to improve health.

UCH Pathway Information for Faculty & Community Members:

  1. UCH Core Competencies (PDF)

  2. Non Core Activity Guidelines (PDF)
  Physician in the Community Pathway – MCW-Green Bay and MCW-Central Wisconsin

 Physician in the Community Pathway

As an MCW-Green Bay or MCW-Central Wisconsin student, you’ll participate in our Physician in the Community Pathway, linking your medical education with the resources of our clinical partners and the needs of the Green Bay-area communities to promote health in Northern Wisconsin. This unique MCW experience is designed to cultivate your medical skills and interests, transforming them into a quest for lifelong learning in your practice as a primary care physician, general surgeon or psychiatrist.

For more information visit: Green Bay Campus Scholarly Pathways

Scholarly Project

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Goals & Criteria

Every medical student is required to participate in and present the results of a scholarly project during their training at the Medical College of Wisconsin.


Every medical student is required to participate in and present the results of a scholarly project during their training at the Medical College of Wisconsin.


1. Projects include the following:

1.1 Any scholarly driven activity can fulfill the project requirement (e.g., clinical, basic, or translational research; case review with comprehensive literature review; meta-analysis; educational, quality improvement, or community based service learning project), consistent with the chosen pathway goals.

1.1.1 A project plan/ proposal should be submitted to and approved by the pathway advisor/mentor prior to starting.

1.2 The project must meet Glassick’s Criteria for scholarship (i.e., clear goals, adequate preparation, appropriate methods, significant results, effective presentation, reflective critique – see attached scoring rubric below).

1.3 The project must take place during training at MCW.

2. Effective presentation of the project includes two required components:

2.1 Submission of a final project paper approved by the student’s pathway advisor/ mentor or a submitted manuscript is acceptable.  While not required, submission of a manuscript to a peer-reviewed journal is encouraged.


2.2 Presentation of projects as a poster or podium (selected) presentation must occur at the M-3 Spring Pathway Scholarship Forum or M-2 Medical Student Summer Research Program Poster Session.

2.2.1 Additional dissemination to a local, regional or national audience is encouraged: e.g. professional meeting; however, pathway funding is not available for student travel at this time.

3. Students may participate in collaborative projects with faculty or other students.  However, for credit, the student must qualify for “authorship” of the project, consistent with MCW’s Principles for Authorship on Scientific and Scholarly Publications, demonstrating each of the following:

3.1 Substantial contributions to conception and design, or acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data;

3.2 Drafting the project report or revising it critically for important intellectual content; and

3.3 Final approval of the project by all students in the group.


Materials & Forms

A collection of forms and guidelines for mentors and students.

Scholarly Project Materials

Scholarly Project - Completion Criteria (PDF)

Description of the scholarly project required for completion of a Pathway.

Institutional Review of Scholarly Pathway Project (PDF)

Description of the Institutional Review (IRB) policy for student projects.

Scholarly Project Proposal Form) (DOCX)

Outline for students' scholarly project full proposal to be submitted for approval to their Pathway Director. This must be accompanied by the mentor approval form.

Scholarly Project Written Report Guidelines (PDF)

Instructions for authors for the required written scholarly project report.

Scholarly Project Evaluation Rubric (PDF)

Rubric for evaluating scholarly projects in the Pathways.

Mentor Forms

Mentor Agreement Form (DOCX)

To be submitted with the Scholarly Project Statement of Intent to confirm the agreement by the faculty member to serve as a mentor.

Mentor Approval Form (DOCX)

To be submitted with the student’s project proposal; Affirms the mentor’s support of the project plan

Mentor Attestation (DOCX)

To be submitted with the students final Scholarly Project Report. This form includes an assessment by the mentor using Glassick's Criteria of the student's role in fulfillment of the Scholarly Project requirements.



Tips for Finding an Advisor

Tips and guidance for finding an Advisor.


Student Travel Reimbursement

This travel reimbursement is available to MCW medical students who have been accepted to present their research/scholarly projects at national/regional scientific meetings or at venues of scholarly significance. It is intended to give medical students an opportunity to present before an academic audience and to obtain helpful feedback for future progress. The reimbursement can be used to offset such costs as: airfare, hotel, meeting registration or per diem expenses.

Medical Student Scholarly Activities/Pathways Travel Reimbursement Funds

Purpose: This travel reimbursement is available to MCW medical students who have been accepted to present their Scholarly Projects at national/regional scientific meetings or at venues of scholarly significance. It is intended to give medical students an opportunity to present before an academic audience and to obtain helpful feedback for future progress. The reimbursement can be used to offset such costs as: airfare, hotel, meeting registration or per diem expenses.

Eligibility: Full-time students at MCW who are candidates for the MD degree are eligible if they have been accepted to present a paper or poster reflecting their Scholarly Project (as submitted to meet their graduation requirement), or if they have been accepted to present their Scholarly Project as part of a nationally recognized workshop or meeting on science and scholarship in a field related to their scholarly work. A student is only eligible to receive travel reimbursement one time within their four years of undergraduate medical education, whether through this program or the Medical Student Summer Research Program (MSSRP). For projects on which multiple students worked and were accepted to present, a maximum of two students are eligible to receive travel reimbursement funds for that project (to travel to only one meeting).

Application and Reimbursement Procedure: The maximum travel reimbursement is $500 and is available on a first-come, first-served basis to eligible applicants. Preference will be given to students who have completed their Scholarly Project proposal for the scholarly project requirement.

Please submit your application as soon as you have received acceptance of your participation at the event.

When completing the application for reimbursement, you must submit 3 attachments:

  1. an official abstract (in Adobe PDF), of the abstract/workshop to be presented
  2. the official notification of acceptance
  3. email from mentor (one paragraph is sufficient), message should:
  • comment on why student is eligible for the reimbursement and their contribution to the research project, and
  • acknowledge that the student or department will be responsible for travel support exceeding $500.

Administration of Reimbursements: Reimbursements will be made up to a maximum of $500 per student, in accordance with MCW travel policy as reimbursement for actual expenses. Reimbursement for travel expenses will be provided after the event. Receipts for transportation, hotel, registration fees, etc. are required in order to receive reimbursement. Airfare and registration fees can be pre-paid by MCW after official acceptance of meeting presentation has been received and the application for reimbursement approved. You will be contacted by the Discovery Curriculum to discuss the reimbursement process and/or make pre-paid travel arrangements.

An annual summary of reimbursements will be sent to Academic Affairs and the Director of Scholarly Activities.

Students are required to submit an envelope containing all travel receipts and account of travel expenses using the expense reimbursement form within one week of their return.

Questions can be sent to Pathways, Academic Affairs Suite M3125.

Apply Here for Travel Reimbursement

Community Engagement

Community Engaged Learning

Community Partner Project Proposal

Community Partner Project Proposal

Dear Community Partners, The Medical College of Wisconsin is seeking community-based service learning opportunities for our medical students.

Community Service Guidelines

Community Service Guidelines

The process of working with a community to determine needs and develop appropriate programs requires different knowledge and skills than those used in a conventional clinical setting. Community-engaged activities provide valuable experiences for our medical students, and the community relies upon us to ensure that the students we send to them are appropriately prepared, knowledgeable, and adequately supervised.

Honors in Community Engagement

The purpose of this program is to encourage, support and recognize medical students who work extensively with medically underserved, marginalized and vulnerable populations during their medical school careers.

Service Learning at MCW

Service Learning is “a structured learning experience that combines community service with preparation and reflection. Students engaged in service-learning provide community service in response to community-identified concerns and learn about the context in which service is provided, the connection between their service and their academic coursework, and their roles as citizens and professionals.” (LCME IS-14-A)

Service Learning at MCW


Service Learning at MCW


Service Learning (SL):

• Is part of the curriculum and results in academic credit
• Places equal value on community-defined service objectives and curricular learning objectives
• Is planned and implemented through partnership among the student, faculty and site-based community staff.
• Includes: 1) Orientation to community being served; 2) Preparation with background and training needed to perform needed tasks; 3) Service activities to meet community-identified need; and 4) Reflection to allow the student to integrate the service and learning aspects of the experience.

Service learning assists students' development as medical professionals through experiential learning that stimulates critical thinking, problem analysis and cultural understanding.

MCW Pathways support Service Learning across all pathways by facilitating partnership development among students, faculty and community partners.


MCW Model of Continuous Cultivation of the Community Engaged Scholar

Dual Degrees and Honors

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MD/MS Program

The MD/MS in Clinical and Translational Science Program is designed for students who wish to pursue a medical career with a research focus.

Honors in Research

The Honors in Research Program is an optional research training opportunity that enables medical students to extend their summer research training experience throughout their educational program.

Honors in Research Application - APPLY NOW

The Honors in Research Program is an optional research training opportunity that enables medical students to extend their summer research training experience throughout their educational program with the goal of 1) exploring additional aspects of their project that potentially may generate new data or add knowledge to their investigation, and 2) further enhancing the student’s overall research exposure. Students will be recognized at graduation with the MD with Honors in Research on their diploma, and with Honors in Research on their transcript, pending the satisfactory completion of the Honors requirements.

Who is eligible? The Honors option is open to MCW medical students who participated in the formal Medical Student Summer Research Training Program for 8 -12 weeks, supervised by MCW faculty investigators. Students participating in research programs away from MCW or outside of the summer research program are not eligible to apply.

What are the requirements? Students must: 1) complete a total of 16 weeks of *mentored research training on one project, including the weeks spent during the summer research program, and 2) submit an approved research thesis by November 1 of the M4 year. The Honors project must be an extension of or very closely related to the original summer research project. Time spent writing the thesis does not count toward the 16 week requirement. Additionally, Honors candidates must maintain a satisfactory academic record throughout the medical education program. * The mentor must be a full-time MCW faculty member and must provide a letter of support for the applicant at the time of application and a letter verifying the completion of the training at the time the Honors thesis is submitted (see additional information below).

When can I complete the additional lab time? Approved honors candidates who complete 12 weeks of research during the summer may complete the additional training time by taking a 4-week graded research elective during the M3 year or in the months of July or August of the M4 year. For students completing only 8 or 10 weeks of training during the summer, the additional 6 or 8 weeks of required lab time may be completed in a combination of a 4-week elective, as described above, plus noncore Pathway time and personal time. The student must provide a plan for completing the time. The Honors application must be approved prior to beginning the additional time in order for it to “count” toward the 16 week requirement.

The learning activities are determined by the research preceptor and the student. The preceptor completes the standard third-year evaluation currently used for graded electives. Students are graded on the standard five-point grading scale.

What are the application requirements? The Honors application must include the following information:
For the original project:

• Explain the background and scientific significance of the original project.
• State the hypothesis and original specific aims.
• Briefly explain how they were achieved (methods).
• Briefly describe the results of the original project.
• Briefly describe your role on the research project.
• How many weeks have been completed (summer)
• Did you publish or present this work?

For the Honors project:

• Explain the background and scientific significance of the Honors project.
• State the new hypothesis and the new specific aims.
• Discuss how the Honors project extends or enhances the original project.
• Briefly describe the anticipated methods.
• Briefly explain your role on the extended project.
• Do you anticipate publishing or presenting as a result of the extended research?
• Explain how/when the additional training time will be fulfilled (e.g. research elective, pathways time, on nights/weekends with specifics).

From the Faculty Preceptor:

The Honors application must be accompanied by a letter of support from the research preceptor confirming the number of weeks of actual research the student completed during the summer and an assessment of the potential success of the future research time. The proposed interactions between student and preceptor also should be described.

Both the initial summer project and the subsequent research elective need to be reviewed and approved before the actual research is performed. No research completed after the summer project period will count for the Honors program unless the Honors application has already been approved. The approval for the additional four-week Honors elective research block will be reviewed and approved by a member of the Honors committee with the submission of the Honors application. Completion of work not previously approved will not be considered in compliance with this policy.

The submission of a thesis encompassing the entire 16 weeks of research is required by November 1 of the M4 year. The actual writing of the thesis is not considered to be a part of the 16 weeks of research time. The thesis will be reviewed by the Honors Committee and must be approved by February 15 of the M4 year in order for the MD with Research Distinction to be awarded at graduation and noted on the diploma and transcript.

Students interested in pursuing the Honors in Research Program may apply as soon as the summer research period is completed using the Honors in Research Application

Preceptors must provide a letter of support demonstrating their willingness to mentor and monitor their Honors applicant throughout the added training and thesis writing process. The letter should also clearly indicate the student’s and preceptor’s roles in the project, as well as how the student will be involved in the overall research environment.


Honors in Community Engagement

The purpose of this program is to encourage, support and recognize medical students who work extensively with medically underserved, marginalized and vulnerable populations during their medical school careers.

Download the Honors in Community Engagement Application (PDF)

Purpose of this program: The purpose of this program is two-fold:

1. Encourage, support and recognize medical students who work extensively with medically underserved, marginalized and vulnerable populations during their medical school careers.

a. MCW is committed to improving health through community engagement. Many students participate in service learning and volunteer service through Scholarly Pathways and their student organizations. The purpose of this Honors distinction is to support and recognize sustained commitment, excellence and impact over and beyond usual expectations.

2. Improve community health and reduce health disparities, with an emphasis on health priorities outlined in the Healthy People 2020 and Healthiest Wisconsin 2020 health plans, through the development, implementation and evaluation of evidence-based population oriented health interventions.

a. Students distinguish themselves by assuming significant responsibility in the collaborative planning, implementation, evaluation and dissemination of a focused, sustainable community health initiative.

Program Eligibility: Students submit their Honors in Community Engagement proposal prior to starting work on their honors thesis project. Criteria for consideration include:

1) Academic Standing: Student must be in good academic standing to participate in the Honors in Community Engagement (HCE) program
2) Prior to Application: Student must demonstrate a sustained commitment to community engagement, service and leadership during the first 3 semesters of medical school, exceeding minimum expectations, and including both:

a) Preparation/ Formal Coursework (e.g. outstanding performance in Urban and Community Health (UCH) or Global Health (GH) pathway, or approved alternative)
b) Community-engagement through service learning activities (e.g. through pathways and/or summer experiences) beyond the minimum course requirement, and that results in a measureable product (e.g. new partnership, pilot data, community impact). To be eligible for the HCE program, the student must provide evidence of progress toward a completion of a relevant scholarly project that will meet MCW graduation requirements, including (at minimum) a submitted and approved Scholarly Project Proposal.

3) Application Requirements:

a) Personal Statement: Outlining accomplishments to-date, personal goals and commitment to community-engaged scholarship. Accomplishments must include submission and approval of a scholarly project proposal that will meet graduation requirements, distinct from the Honors Proposal project. Progress toward completion of that project (e.g. pilot data, summer research) and anticipated or actual results must be included in the application.
b) Community-Engaged Honors Project Proposal: Consistent with the Scholarly Project Proposal format, including background and significance of work, clear goals, appropriate methods, anticipated results and planned presentation format(s). In addition, the project must include a plan for involving the community throughout the process. The project must be guided by principles of community-engaged scholarship (See Table). This Honors project may build upon the required scholarly project, but must extend the work beyond that of the required scholarly project.
c) Learning/ Mentorship Plan: In addition, the student must provide an Individual Learning Plan that includes a commitment to dedicate time during and/or beyond the third year to relevant educational activities, leadership and community service activities. The plan should include:

i) Formal Coursework/educational enrichment activities – may include:

(1) Sustained commitment to the UCH or GH pathway (e.g. all 3 years); and/or
(2) Enrollment in an M3 or M4 Honors elective

ii) Service Learning: can include community-engaged research or community health initiative, but must be supervised by an MCW faculty mentor and community partner.
iii) Community service: volunteer service (e.g. through student organizations.) is encouraged, but is insufficient without evidence of meaningful community engagement and scholarship.

d) Letters of support from Faculty Mentor and Community Partner: Outlining support for the project and willingness to support the student through the project completion, and attestation that 1) the student has made significant accomplishments to-date consistent with the HCE goals; 2) the student is taking a primary lead role on the project in collaboration with the community partner, and 3) the project adheres to community-engaged scholarship principles. See: Community Academic Partnership Model (PDF)

Honors in Community Engagement


4) Approval of the Honors in Community Engagement Application: Applications to the HCE program will be reviewed by the Honors Committee. Students whose applications are not approved may have the opportunity to revise and resubmit their application once for reconsideration based upon the committee’s recommendations.
5) Successful Completion of the Honors in Community Engagement to be Awarded at Graduation:

a) Evidence of commitment to the area of distinction as demonstrated by extended time involvement and effort in the area consistent with the plan outlined in the approved Application.
b) An Honor’s Thesis that is reviewed and approved by the Honors committee. The thesis must demonstrate:

a. Adherence to Principles of Community Engagement
b. Originality – All work must be original and have been produced since the start of medical school.
c. Evidence of leadership, innovation, creativity – the student must have a primary lead role
d. Quantity – The body of work should be substantive and represent a significant commitment of time and intellectual energy.
e. Evidence of sustained impact – The product developed must be sustainable or have meaningful impact beyond the presentation.
f. Quality - High quality/scientific rigor as determined by a committee with expertise in the area of study.
g. Contribution to the pathway or institutional engagement activities – e.g. new partnership, service learning opportunities, educational product that will be sustained upon the students’ graduation

c) Community Partner evaluation and recommendation must provide testimony that student contributed to health of clients, responded to community-identified need, and demonstrated dedication and respect for community.

Graduation with Honors

The Medical College of Wisconsin offers opportunities for students to graduate with an Honors distinction in specific areas, consistent with components of the MCW institutional mission.  These include:

• MD with Honors in Research
• MD with Honors in Community Engagement

Context: MCW’s Scholarly Pathways and summer research programs provide structure and support for students to excel and pursue an area of scholarship with the guidance of a mentor.  Thus, the general expectations for scholarly achievement at MCW are high.

Purpose of the Honors Programs: To recognize and support students who demonstrate exceptional commitment and performance in a selected area that goes above and beyond general the expectations for medical school graduation. 

Distinctions are not pathway-specific; i.e. it is possible for students to achieve an Honors distinction regardless of pathway if requirements are met.  However, certain pathways may be more closely associated with a distinction area, as requirements are supported by structured pathway activities.

Specific requirements for Honors distinctions vary.  Common requirements include:

a) Achievement of prerequisites for the Honors Program, including: 1) good academic standing; 2) outstanding performance history relevant to the distinction area during the first three semesters of medical school (e.g. “over and above” expectations); 3) progress toward completion of the MCW scholarly project requirement, including (at minimum) and approved Scholarly Project Proposal.
b) An Honors application, approved by the Honors Committee, which includes: 1) a plan for continued educational enrichment in the area, 2) a proposal for an Honors project which extends beyond the required scholarly project; 3) a mentor/sponsor letter of support which includes activities already completed and a commitment to continued support;
c) Evidence of sustained commitment to the area as demonstrated by extended time involvement and effort in the area, including a commitment to dedicate time during the third year (pathway and/or an elective) to the area.
d) An end product that is reviewed and approved by the Honors Committee. This could be a thesis or project report or other “body of work,” as specified by each individual Honors area, but must exceed the expectations for the general scholarly project requirement. Publication in a peer-reviewed forum is encouraged.   Characteristics of projects that will be considered in awarding an Honors designation at graduation include Originality (student has a lead role), Quantity (substantive, significant commitment of time and intellect), Quality (Valid, appropriate), Relevance to medicine, and Impact. 

Participation in an Honors Program does not guarantee an Honors Distinction at graduation.  Students may not participate in more than one Honors Program.

Pathways Event


Pathways staff are located in the Academic Affairs Office, Suite M3215

Please direct general inquiries to:
Pathways Team Lead
Clinical & Translational Research Coordinator:
Meaghan Hayes, MEd
(414) 955-2812


Global Health, Urban & Community Health, Molecular & Cellular Research and Health Systems Management & Policy Coordinator:
Sarah Leineweber
(414) 955-2811


Bioethics, Clinician Educator, Quality Improvement & Patient Safety Coordinator:
Jen Kraus
(414) 955-2286


Page Updated 04/24/2018