Student Computing Policies
Laptop Policy and Minimum System Requirements
VUSM students use laptops for a number of required activities, including, in some programs, online exams. Each student is required to possess a laptop that meets the minimum technical specifications (see below) throughout their time enrolled at VUSM. These specifications are updated annually and published online on Explore VUSM.
8 GB of memory
256 GB Hard Drive
13 inches with min. 1024 x 768 screen resolution
512 MB Video Card memory
Integrated or external webcam
Working speakers and microphone
Intel i7 2.0 GHz processor
16 GB of memory
512 GB Hard Drive (SSD recommended)
13 inches or larger with 1400×900 screen resolution or better
1.5 GB Video Card memory (or shared memory for Macs)
macOS 10.14, 10.15, 11.0
Not supported: Linux, Chrome OS, virtual machines
Chrome is the recommended browser for VSTAR (MD program) and Brightspace (all other VUSM programs).
- Disable pop-up blockers
The NBME supports:
- Windows – Chrome, Edge (Chromium)
- macOS – Chrome, Safari
Latest version of:
Recommended, but not required:
- Earplugs for exams
- Earbuds or headphones
- See also, applications recommended by current MD students (maintained by the VUSM Student Technology Committee)
Frequently Asked Questions
Why aren’t Linux and Chrome OS supported?
The NBME (National Board of Medical Examiners) has a secure browser that must be installed on your laptop in order to take their exams, and they only support the versions of Windows and macOS listed above.
I have an 11-inch MacBook Air or other 11-inch laptop display. Why can’t I use this for exams?
You can, but some of the images on the NBME exams (and potentially others) may be cropped off. You might be able to scroll to see the full image.
Why is Chrome recommended over other web browsers?
Chrome performs best, and most consistently in our environment. Chrome is also supported by the NBME exams, while Firefox is not.
Computer Privileges and Responsibility Policy
Students are expected to comply with the Computer Privileges and Responsibility Policy. Cooperative and respectful use is expected of all users of Vanderbilt computing resources and services. In addition, students should use antivirus software to safeguard personal computers and Vanderbilt networks. Vanderbilt users should be aware that electronic mail is not necessarily secure or private. Personal data including social security numbers should never be included in an email message.
Many VUSM students have two login IDs, one for Vanderbilt University and one for Vanderbilt University Medical Center, commonly referred to as Dual Identity or Dual IDs. Students will use their VU login for all University applications, including VSTAR (MD program), Brightspace (all other VUSM programs), and YES, while the VUMC login will be used for all clinical applications at VUMC, including eStar/Epic and clinical workstations.
Vanderbilt University Email Address
Students are required to monitor their vanderbilt.edu address at all times (at least daily) because important information is distributed through that address. Please contact Vanderbilt University Information Technology (VUIT) for information on setting up alternate email addresses.
Certain Federal statutes require that information be delivered to each student. Vanderbilt delivers much of this information via email. Official electronic notifications, including those required by statutes, those required by University policy, and instructions from University and VUSM officials, will be sent to students’ Vanderbilt email addresses. Some messages include links to the YES Communications Tool, VSTAR (MD program), or Brightspace (all other VUSM programs), which are secure channels for official communications of a confidential nature. The University and VUSM make every effort to avoid sending students nonessential email (“spam”), and maintain separate lists from which students may unsubscribe for announcements of general interest.
Students are charged with the knowledge of the contents of all official University and VUSM notifications and are required to respond to instructions and other official correspondence requiring a response. Accordingly, students bear the responsibility for checking their Vanderbilt email account frequently and for managing their email account inbox to prevent important messages from being unread or returned as “undeliverable.”
Typically, students will not have a VUMC email address attached to their VUMC ID, as it is not necessary to complete clinical assignments and duties. One that does, however, is starting employment at VUMC (working in a lab, for example). Residents from the Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Residency Program will have a VUMC email address created, as they are VUMC house staff.
VU Social Media Policy
The VU Social Media Policy provides guidelines outlining how Vanderbilt supports institutional communication goals through social media platforms. The policy is intended for internet activities that associate or identify a student with Vanderbilt, use Vanderbilt email addresses, or discuss Vanderbilt. In keeping with the Electronic Communications and Information Technology Resources policy (HR-025), Vanderbilt email addresses should not be used in conjunction with unofficial or personal social media accounts and profiles. This policy is not intended to guide online communications when students do not associate or identify themselves with Vanderbilt. The VU Social Media Handbook and the VUSM Social Media Policy has additional information.
Access to Virtual Clinical Workstations
All VUSM students who have access to VUMC clinical applications may access Virtual Clinical Workstations (vCWS) from outside of the VUMC network using a mobile device or personal computer. This allows students to access eStar/Epic Electronic Health Record (EHR) and other Clinical Workstation programs using their devices without the need for the RSA SecurID key. Guidelines for setting up devices are in VSTAR Help: Connect to the vCWS from home.
Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
Vanderbilt School of Medicine is subject to the provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) which governs access and confidentiality of student information. Details can be found on the VU University Registrar website. Students who ask a faculty member to submit a letter of recommendation may need to provide permission for disclosure of information if any information included in the recommendation is part of the “education record” (grades, GPA, and other non-directory information) or is an assessment of a student’s performance. Also, FERPA provides the university the ability to designate certain student information as “directory information.” Directory information may be made available to any person without the student’s consent unless the student gives notice as provided for in its FERPA policy (see University Registrar website for more information).
Center for Experiential Learning and Assessment (CELA) Video Records Policy
Vanderbilt University School of Medicine is committed to quality education and training. Toward this end, students, residents and fellows are routinely observed and evaluated as an integral part of their education and development of their professional competencies, either directly or through video records, as appropriate to the objectives and format of the experience. These are an integral part of the teaching and assessment methods of trainees. Some of these observations may take place during educational and/or assessment simulations at CELA. Students are asked to acknowledge the CELA Video Records Policy prior to participating in simulation activities at CELA.