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 meet individually with Dr. O’Banion at least once per year for 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, 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
- Med 3 and 4: Timing of clerkships, choice of residency area, meeting opportunities
Current trainees meet with their Advisory Dean, specifically assigned for MD/PhD students, Dr. David Kaufman (entering class 2015 and future) and/or Dr. David Lambert (entering class 2014 or prior). 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 (see next section).
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 per year. MD/PhD trainees are encouraged to schedule more frequent meetings (e.g. every 6 months) 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
Finally, specific meetings are scheduled with groups of students who are entering particular phases of trainings. These include:
- First and second year medical students meet with Dr. O’Banion, senior MD/PhD trainees and other faculty to consider selection of thesis mentors and research projects as well as outline funding opportunities
- Third and fourth year graduate students who are completing their thesis work meet with Dr. O’Banion and Dr. Lambert/Dr. Kaufman to go over opportunities for transition to clinical work.