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Trainee Advising

Advising for MD/PhD students has evolved to best serve students during each phase of their training and takes advantage of the open and accessible advisors, administrators and faculty of our school.  This provides a flexible approach tailored to each individual student.  Key components are described below.

Trainees will utilize an MSTP-specific Individual Development Plan (IDP) throughout all years of training to reflect on short term and long-term goals, and to provide a record of milestones as they progress through the program. Each student's IDP is to be updated at least once annually, and submitted electronically for review. Upon initial review by the Program Director, if further advising is recommended, trainees will meet individually with Dr. O'Banion to discuss any areas of concern and/or clarification. Additionally, trainees will meet individually with Dr. O’Banion at least once during particular phases of training for a formal review of progress.  The review is documented in a written note produced by the student and Dr. O’Banion.  Specific topics to be covered are stage dependent and include:

  • Med 1 and 2: Transition to graduate training, including selection of graduate program, rotations, and thesis mentors
  • Grad Years 1 and 2: Progress in identifying thesis topic, graduate coursework requirements, progress in research, timing of qualifying examinations, grant writing, exploration of meeting and funding opportunities, and longitudinal clerkship selection 
  • Grad Years 3 (and 4): Research progress, productivity (abstracts, meetings attended and manuscripts), timing of thesis defense, transition into clinical phase

Current trainees meet with their Advisory Dean, specifically assigned for MD/PhD students, Dr. David Kaufman. They meet as a group during regularly scheduled Advisory Dean Lunches in Med Years 1 and 2, and individually to discuss academic progress and return to the clinical phase, including planning of clerkship timing. Drs. O’Banion, Kaufman, and Lambert work closely together to assure that student issues are addressed and that the transition to clinical work is smooth and efficient.

The thesis mentor plays a critical role in guiding trainees in the selection of their thesis topic and in assessing research progress.  A thesis committee, the composition of which depends on school and graduate program guidelines, augments the thesis mentor’s role.  Timing of committee meetings is program dependent, but is at least once every six months following the thesis qualifying examination.  MD/PhD trainees are encouraged to schedule more frequent meetings and make full use of committee members in order to efficiently move through graduate training.

As trainees move through the various phases of the program, they are encouraged to engage other faculty and program directors to fulfill specific advising and mentorship roles.  These individuals include:

  • Graduate training program directors and basic science chairs for selection of rotations,  thesis laboratories and graduate curricular issues
  • Longitudinal clerkship mentors for exploration of clinical training opportunities
  • Clinical residency directors, faculty and chairs for residency information