Flex Weeks

The overarching commitment of the flex week program is to provide students with a balance between access to structured activities and the opportunity to innovate new, ambitious paths to explore while providing time in the schedule for students to strengthen their knowledge in areas where it may be warranted based on prior performance.  Flex weeks also serve to “decelerate” the curriculum, giving students time to “take a breath” between heavy coursework. 
Flex weeks will be spaced out at around two per semester, six during the Foundations phase:
Start Date (Mon)
End Date (Fri)
During these weeks, students will choose activities to engage in for professional enrichment, remediation, or wellbeing.  Advisory Deans will help students decide what to do, and menus of activities will guide decision-making.  Students will inform OMED about their plans, through our learning management system.  The activities of these weeks are not part of the formal curriculum; there is no grade.  However, it is a requirement for graduation that students complete meaningful work during flex weeks.
Examples of flex week activities include:
  • Shadowing
  • Research-related
  • Professional Enrichment Courses (PECs)
  • Community Service
  • Professional Development
  • Wellness
  • Remediation
Students can take one of these six weeks as a wellness week, meaning they do not need to do any structured activities during that time.  This would be essentially an additional vacation week.
UPSOM will not schedule any required activities during those weeks, with the exception of progress testing, which will be scheduling on the Monday morning of Week 12.  Students are free to choose other activities to add on to their primary plan—e.g., Longitudinal Alliance Program work, Community Alliance Program work, etc.
Week 70 precedes the 5.5-week dedicated Step 1 study period (and winter recess).  Students will be allowed to use that flex week for additional study time.
PEC’s currently occur over the course of a semester, or longitudinally even beyond (and will continue to be offered to MS2s in the traditional way).  But PEC leadership will be working with PEC directors to determine which experiences could be condensed into a one-week “bolus” for 3RC students.  For instance, instead of 2 hour skills sessions once weekly for six weeks, they could all be offered during one of the flex weeks.  Without competing curricular obligations, this could increase enrollment and engagement.
Furthermore, it’s worth it for departments to consider packaging some sort of shadowing experience for students to select from, especially for the first five flex weeks.  Mornings in the operating room, afternoons in clinic, Grand Rounds on Friday—etc.  Students will be looking for ways to explore specialties—department leaders should think about what they might offer during the weeks outlined above.
NOTE: If a student has not yet passed a component of the curriculum, remediation would be the first priority.

Create a Flex Week Experience
Anyone—students, staff, faculty, community members—can create an experience. 
If you are interested in submitting a proposal for a flex week, please fill out this FORM and submit to Dr. Jason Rosenstock rosenstockjb@upmc.edu, who can also answer questions about the program.