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MCS Independent Learning Opportunities

Given the diversity of student interests and the ever expanding field of topics in medical ethics and humanities, it is not possible to cover everything in your MCS course.  Independent Learning Opportunities allow you to take advantage of the many resources that are part of a teaching hospital.  It allows you to customize your MCS experience to your own interests.  These opportunities include, but are not limited to: Grand Rounds sponsored by the Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care, and Bioethics; Grand Rounds held by other departments in the HSC on Social and Ethical Issues; Student interest group presentations; etc. 

To complete MCS you must attend at least four of these Independent Learning sessions during the course.

At least two sessions must be on the level of departmental Grand Rounds, and of these two, at least one must be an offering from the Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care, and Bioethics. 

For the balance, you may choose from the activities of student run groups and discussions, discussions run by MCS faculty, or a community service project within the RSOM (see the guidelines below). 

Lastly – one of the sessions may be any activity that you find enriching to your professional development as a physician.  Examples are participating in student chorus (Lymph Notes), attending the Donor Recognition Ceremony, student run cultural events, or anything at all you judge to be beneficial.

For each session you will keep a written reflection which you can upload to your section faculty.  The series of four must be completed by last day of class in May of your first academic year.  You faculty will also use these to provide additional comments on your interest in Ethics and Humanities.

Obtaining Credit for ILO’s completed

Three steps:

  1. Attend the event
  2. Write a reflection and upload it to your MCS faculty leaders within one week of the learning opportunity.

Reflection Guide:

  • Your reflection should be a single page.
  • Begin by describing the event. Topic, Date, Presenter. Remember that your faculty mentor may not have been at the event.
  • The main part of the reflection should deal with your reaction to the experience, its relevance to you as a physician, and its connection to humanities and ethics.

 Upcoming ILO Events at the Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care, and Bioethics

Date Time Topic Event Flyer
Thurs. Sept. 21, 2023 4:30- 6:00pm

The Five Books that Changed Medicine
Salvatore Mangione, MD

Learn more
Thurs. Sept. 28, 2023 4:30- 6:00pm

The Circle of Change- Skillful conversations for Impasse Resolution/A reading with commentary
Jeffrey Trilling, MD

Learn more
Thurs. Oct. 19, 2023 4:30- 6:00pm

The D Words: A Conversation about Death, Dying and Doulas
Monica Raiss & Joni Marra, Esq. CH

Learn more
Thurs. Oct. 26, 2023 4:00- 5:30pm An approach to ethics and persons with dementia
Julian C. Hughes
Learn more

 For more information visit Center Events

Other upcoming ILO Events

Date Time Topic Event Flyer


Community Service as an ILO (Independent Learning Opportunity)

In MCS it is possible to complete 1 ILO by participating in a community service project which meets the following criteria.


  1. The project must be mentored by a SUNY SOM Faculty Member and must be an activity of the School and/or University. (It must be a Stony Brook Activity)
  2. The nature of the service must be patient centered and humanitarian in nature. So, for example, it would not be community service to tutor your classmates or organize notes or study guides for a course.
  3. The project must be organized and generally involve 3 or more members of your class. This requirement is important as it is a LCME touchstone for service learning.)
  4. The service must take place on at least 3 occasions and involve at least 6 hours of service cumulatively.
  5. The mentor must agree to receive a reflection journal form you and provide a note to your section faculty that you have completed the work. The mentor may include a short paragraph concerning your participation
  6. Some examples of excellent and approved projects:
    1. Magic Aid
    2. SB Home (our free clinic)
    3. Smile Buddies / Healthy Kids
  7. Some examples of activities that are not eligible
    1. Health Fairs (screenings or one day information sessions)
    2. Giving tours of the med school and similar ambassador programs