The Independent Study Project (ISP) has long been a cornerstone of the elective curriculum at the UCSD School of Medicine. The UCSD School of Medicine seeks to "prepare physicians who are scientifically expert, clinically astute, responsive to community problems, and compassionate toward clinical needs."
Since its inception, the curriculum at UCSD has included an independent academic project as a requirement for graduation, as a mechanism for achieving these goals.
- The ISP allows the student to exercise independent creativity in a significant part of his or her education. This develops the active, self-directed thought and problem solving ability necessary for the practice of modern medicine thus complementing the core and elective courses.
- The ISP emphasizes process over outcome. Medical education is a lifelong process; the ISP provides opportunities for the development of self-directed learning habits which will benefit the student in his or her future career as a physician.
- The ISP provides the opportunity to develop rational and scholarly methods of investigating new information.
- The ISP is an opportunity to approach a specific topic in depth, in contrast to the core curriculum which emphasizes learning in breadth, the ISP is a period of concentrated study and supports the formation of a close relationship between a faculty member and a student.