The College of Medicine offers more than 200 electives—everything from classes taken on campus to several weeks abroad working in a clinic. Students may take electives throughout the four years of medical school.

Here are just a few examples:

  • Unique Electives, are electives proposed by students who wish to do research in a specific field which will allow them more in depth exposure to that particular area of medicine. 
  • The Miracle Elective, which pairs students with mothers-to-be for the pregnancy, delivery and the baby's first year. (See Sarah's story in the right column);
  • "Partners in Care," which teams students with nurses once a week for half of the nurse's shift in University Hospital. It's a great elective in bedside care, procedural skills, and offers a first-hand look at the critical role of nurses in the delivery of excellent patient care;
  • Medical Spanish, a popular choice among students planning "away" electives in Spanish-speaking countries. Three levels are offered – basic, intermediate and advanced;
  • Consortium for Culture and Medicine courses (CCM), which are offered in conjunction with Syracuse University and LeMoyne College. Courses cover topics such as bioethics; the economic and legal aspects of health care; literature and death; disability and identity, and much more.
  • Hospice Volunteering, which includes intensive training and visits with patients in their homes. The goal is to enhance quality of life at the end of life by supporting patients and their families.
  • "Away Electives," which can involve spending several weeks at other medical schools, at the Center for Disease Control or the National Institutes of Health, or seeing patients in medically underserved parts of the United States or in other countries. Some students take an away elective the summer after their first year at SUNY Upstate.
Sarah Cardillo, Class of 2012, Guilderland, NY

Sarah Cardillo, Class of 2012, Guilderland, NY

Cardillo wants to experience as many aspects of a physician's world as possible. She's been chosen for the Miracle Elective, which pairs students with a mother-to-be throughout the pregnancy and for the baby's first year.

"I'm also doing the Hospice elective, which is a great way to relate to patients," she said. "It's important to face that area of medicine."

Cardillo has yet to decide what field of medicine she'd like to specialize in. Besides being a first-year medical student, she's an Emergency Medical Technician and served on a rescue squad in Albany, but is interested in women's health issues. "I like the idea of OB/GYN, and primary care with women, so I can form relationships with patients," she said.