The Areas of Concentration (AOC) Program provides students with dedicated time designed to enrich their medical school experience. Each student selects an area of interest in which to obtain in-depth knowledge, develops a research skill set, and conducts a scholarly project. A student is able to choose from a menu of topic areas or customize a unique topic area tailored to his or her individual interest. Once a student decides on an AOC, he/she will engage in a program of activities and research experiences typically within one of four methodologically-based pathways: laboratory sciences, clinical sciences, population sciences and medical education. These activities may include journal clubs, lecture series, site visits, field trips, online courses, grand rounds or lab meetings, among others, and will bring together small communities of faculty and students with similar interests.
The AOC Program unfolds over the four years of the medical curriculum. In the Exploratory Phase, in the first year of the medical curriculum, the student explores his or her interests with the guidance of the AOC leadership. In the Planning Phase, which occurs in the second and third years of the medical curriculum, the student identifies a faculty mentor within an AOC and works with the mentor to formulate a suitable research project proposal. In the Scholarly Project Phase, which consists of four months of dedicated block time in the fourth year of the medical curriculum, the student conducts and completes the Scholarly Project. The Scholarly Project is considered the capstone requirement of the AOC Program and results in a written work report that could potentially be suitable for publication (although actual publication is not a requirement).