As a part of a major review of the medical degree programme in Oslo, elective courses were introduced for the first time in the spring term of 2017. We believe this will give opportunities for in-depth study and provide useful experience with a view to future career choices.
It is common practice in other countries for electives to form part of their medical degree programmes (1–3). For example, in 1993, Great Britain saw the nationwide introduction of electives as a mandatory component in all medical degree programmes (4). Many medical schools split their curriculum into a core curriculum and options, elective courses or elective periods (5).
Students can attend elective courses abroad or at their own place of study. For example, the Karolinska Institute's 5 ½-year medical degree programme incorporates a 25-week elective period (6). Elective periods can provide the scope required to teach groups of particularly interested students and may allow students to focus on their chosen field of study.
The new medical degree programme in Oslo incorporates an elective period at the half-way point, and another towards the end of the programme (7, 8) (figure 1). In the third year of study, a three-week period has been set aside for students to attend methodology and thematic courses of their own choosing (9). The second and final elective period is scheduled for the final year of study and will involve a four-week medical practice placement. The plan is for the elective practice placement to be in a clinical ward, a general practitioner's surgery or a nursing home, a laboratory, a research group or any other relevant institution. It is also possible for the practice placement to be set at a foreign institution.
The duration of the elective period is a total of seven weeks and is worth 10 credit points. In addition, a 12-week period is set aside for independent study and a scientific project thesis worth 20 credit points. The purpose of the elective methodology courses is to give students more knowledge of methods that may be useful in their project thesis work (figure 1). The thematic courses are intended to give an opportunity for in-depth study beyond the core curriculum.
Below we would like to share the experiences we gained in the winter of 2017 when we introduced the first elective period of optional methodology and thematic courses.