Go to University of Chicago Medicine Home


Clinical Excellence Scholars Track (CEST)

Clinical Excellence Scholars Track (CEST)

The Clinical Excellence Scholar Track is a competitive application program started by the Bucksbaum Institute that provides a unique 3-year longitudinal experience for UChicago pre-medical undergraduate students. The Track has thus far awarded transcript designations to more than 100 students as of the spring of 2023. The CEST program committee has defined five overarching program goals and has linked these goals to the mission of the Bucksbaum Institute.

Program Overview

In Fall 2013, the Bucksbaum Institute created a hugely successful competitive application program that consists of a three-year longitudinal experience for UChicago pre-medical undergraduates in the College. The program entered its twelfth year in the fall of 2023, having awarded more than 100 transcript designations to graduates.

The Institute’s first Master Clinician, Ross Milner, as well as two senior faculty scholars, Dr. Christopher Straus and Dr. Neethi Pinto, have provided leadership to the students in the track. Beginning in January 2020 Dr. Bree Andrews joined the program to replace the departing Dr. Pinto as a cohort leader. Each year, around 75 UChicago undergraduate pre-medical students in their 2nd, 3rd, and 4th years participate in the program, organized by year into cohorts led by an individual faculty mentor.

Pre-medical students in the CEST program are introduced to clinical medicine, humanism, and compassion in healthcare. CEST student scholars have volunteered over 11,000 hours at the University of Chicago Medicine in fulfillment of the program engagement requirements.

The CEST program is unique to the University of Chicago; to date we have not found a similar program at any of our peer institutions.

CEST Program Components and Requirements

  • Successful completion of 100 hours of volunteer service, through UChicago Medicine, prior to applying to the program during the student’s second year
  • Participation in the Joel Schwab, MD “On Being a Doctor” seminars. This quarterly lecture series will feature a clinician presenting on a selected aspect of effective clinical care.
  • Attendance at Clinical Excellence Scholar dinners and physician-led small-group meetings, which take place twice each quarter.
  • Successful completion of the Shadowing Program at UChicago Medicine, which requires a minimum of 36 hours of shadowing (12 per quarter)
  • Participation in the Bucksbaum Institute for Clinical Excellence and MacLean Center for clinical Medical Ethics public events, such as the annual symposiums and lecture series. 
  • Completion of one course within the College that relates to the social context of health and medicine.
  • Completion of a creative capstone project, reflecting on the time spent in the program

For interested second-year students

During your second year, you should plan to complete 100 hours of volunteer service through UChicago Medicine. Your hours will be reported to the Bucksbaum Institute each quarter directly from UChicago Medicine Volunteer Services Office. You must also attend two “On Being a Doctor” lectures over the course of the year. The application for formal entry into the program will go live in January on our website.

Faculty Leadership