Curriculum for Medical Scientist Training Program

See Related: PhD Training Programs

The Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) at NYU School of Medicine is ambitious in its overarching focus on educating students in two divergent sets of skills: the creative ability to analyze human biology from both the physician's and from the scientist's perspectives. The life of an MD/PhD physician-scientist begins with the right frame of mind  -- intense curiosity, self-discipline, and compassion. It then takes training to develop intellectual rigor and intuitive insight, mastery of minutiae, and a comprehension of the larger clinical or biological context.

In order to be prepared for a successful career as a physician-scientist, we train our MD/PhD students to develop skills to dissect complex phenomena into fundamental and testable hypotheses so that they can build on the expertise and vision of a basic scientist when approaching biological questions. They are also prepared to be first-rate physicians, with the medical knowledge, experience, skills, and well-honed instincts to recognize, comprehend, and analyze clinical phenomena.

Students in the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) are registered simultaneously in NYU School of Medicine and the Sackler Institute of Graduate Biomedical Sciences. See Program Timeline below for details.

Requirements

  • PhD degree in the Graduate School of Arts and Science and the Sackler Institute
  • MD degree in the School of Medicine
  • NYU Medical Scientist Training Program requirements (MSTP summer seminars, two summer lab rotations, monthly seminar series, annual retreat)

For a detailed overview of MSTP guidelines, please consult the MSTP student handbook.


Program Timeline

Summer before Medical School

The program begins with a mandatory summer lab rotation before the first year of medical school in the lab of a mentor selected in consultation with a Co-Director prior to arrival. The incoming class of MSTP fellows also takes the specifically designed MSTP summer seminar series, which introduces incoming students to a wide variety of faculty members of NYU School of Medicine.


Year One and Year Two: Medical School

The NYU School of Medicine has introduced significant modifications to the curriculum, aimed to integrate material across four years of medical school in a new comprehensive and innovative "spiral" curriculum called C21. To achieve this goal, the School will employ "pillars"—different areas of medicine—as central themes. In the course of their medical education, students will absorb increasingly sophisticated information about each pillar and the diseases associated with it, producing an upward spiral of learning. C21 is a shift to a new patient-centered and disease-focused model based on these spiraling topics to enhance the intellectual link between the classroom and patient care.

The School of Medicine website has a detailed description of the curriculum for the 21st century.


Graduate School

Between January and March following their preclinical tenure (18 months) of medical school, MSTP students will study for and take the STEP 1 exam. Students must pass STEP1 in order to pursue their thesis work. Students can enter a thesis lab if they have selected one after 2 summer rotations. If necessary, students have the option of completing a third lab rotation from April to June. A student's thesis advisor and graduate program should be chosen by July 1st. The MSTP administration will advise students in the selection of the training program and thesis mentors, who will help the students define the direction of their thesis work. At the end of their first graduate year, students take the qualifying exams of their respective graduate programs. Students take advanced graduate courses, as defined by the requirements of the graduate program of their choice and in accordance with their area of research interest, while pursuing their thesis research. During this time, students also continue to attend MSTP events.

MSTP students who are nearing the end of their thesis work are encouraged to enroll in a specially designed "Bedside Diagnosis" course developed by the MSTP in conjunction with the Department of Medicine to help with the transition from graduate to medical school. This custom-designed program prepares senior graduate students for their return to the clinics. Upon successful completion of their PhD degree, MSTP students then rotate through a series of clerkships to complete the remaining requirements of their MD.


Clinical Years 

After a two-week orientation session, students arrange for nine clerkship rotations in medicine, surgery, pediatrics, obstetrics-gynecology, psychiatry, neurology, ambulatory care medicine, critical care, and advanced medicine in 13 months, with additional electives if time permits. MSTP students may join the clinical rotation sequences through clerkships (or "palettes") in July or October. These clerkships provide a rich experience on the wards of the NYU Langone Medical Center's teaching hospitals, where students learn to deal with the most serious problems in physiological dysfunction. Fellows in clerkship become members of the health-care team and participate in all phases of the patient's care, from admission through discharge.


Residency Placement

After completion of the MD degree, MSTP graduates generally move on to residency programs in their chosen medical specialty or to research-oriented clinical programs as graduates of the NYU School of Medicine's MD/PhD program.


MSTP Pathways

 

The following applies to ALL pathways:

First Summer Rotation

MSTP students are required to participate in summer research rotations, beginning on or about July 1st of the year of their matriculation.  During this summer, students are also required to attend the MSTP Seminar Series.  Research rotation mentors are chosen in consultation with a Co-Director. 


Medical School Year 1

Students must comply with the policies of the Medical School as stated in the Medical School Policy Handbook.. During the academic year, MSTP students are expected to participate in Program activities and to attend the Sackler Science After Hours talks, as permitted by their schedules.


Second Summer Rotation

MSTP students are required to participate in a second summer research rotation, beginning after the conclusion of the MS1 year. During this summer, students are also required to attend the MSTP Seminar Series. Research rotation mentors are chosen in consultation with a Co-Director.


Medical School Year 2

During the academic year, MSTP students are expected to participate in Program activities and to attend the Sackler Science After Hours talks, as permitted by their schedules.


Transition to Graduate School

MSTP students who successfully complete the first 18 months of the Medical School curriculum transition to the Graduate School in January of Year 2. All students are required to study for and take Step 1 of the USMLE by March 1. They must pass Step 1 to continue research in the thesis lab. While in the Graduate School, MSTP students must comply with the policies of the Graduate School as stated in the Graduate School Policy Handbook. Upon entering the MSTP, students are strongly encouraged to read the AAMC Compact Between Biomedical Graduate Students and their Research Advisors. Students are required to complete all of the requirements of the Graduate School for the Ph.D. degree.


Credit Transfers from the Medical School to the Graduate School

20 Preclinical course credits will be transferred from the Medical School to the Graduate School to fulfill the requirements for elective credits. Students in good standing may have credits with grades “P” or higher transferred.


Instruction in the Responsible Conduct of Research

MSTP students are required to take the course entitled Scientific Integrity and Responsible Conduct in Research in the spring of first full year in Graduate School.


Individual Development Plan (IDP) Course

As required by the NIH, this course will be offered to MSTP students in one session late in the spring semester of their third year in graduate school. All students are expected to create their own IDP through the AAAS website: http://myidp.sciencecareers.org


Introduction to Biostatistics

This introductory course prepares students with basic skills necessary for understanding and utilizing quantitative tools. This 2-credit course is a requirement for all MSTP students.


Selection of a Graduate Program

Students are required to select a Graduate Training Program by August 1 of their first year of Graduate School. Degree requirements vary between programs; students are encouraged to meet with Graduate Program Advisors before making a selection.


Choice of Thesis Advisor

Once a student has identified a potential thesis advisor, the student will then meet with the MSTP Director or a Co-Director to discuss the selection BEFORE finalizing his/her decision with the thesis advisor or graduate program. If a student has not identified a thesis advisor after two summer rotations, a third lab rotation is allowed beginning March 1 for 8 weeks.


Graduate Program Qualifying Exams

Requirements vary by Graduate Program, and the relevant Graduate Program Advisor or administrator should be contacted for specific details. It is the student’s responsibility to be aware of the requirements of his/her Graduate Program. The MSTP requires students to complete their qualifying exams by the end of the first year in their mentor’s lab, unless this timing conflicts with the Graduate Program requirements. In that case, students must complete qualifying exams by the end of the second year.


Transition to Medical School

Reentry into Medical School requires careful coordination between the student, his or her mentor, the thesis advisory committee, the MSTP, and the Medical School.

In the C21 Curriculum medical students undertake their clinical clerkships and Selectives in 12-week blocks punctuated by one week intersessions. These blocks begin in January, April, July, or October (although on some years the first week may fall in the preceding month), depending on which pathway is selected (Figure 1). Palettes, which dictate the order in which the clerkships and Selectives are taken, run through these four 12-week sessions. MSTP students may enter clerkships at the beginning of the blocks that begin in April, July or October. The January entrance date is available only to those who choose Pathway 3. Time of entrance will dictate how many weeks of electives the student will be able to incorporate into their schedule (see description below).

Students will have two weeks of vacation time built into their clerkship year: one week in June and one week in December. They may choose to take additional vacation time during the Selectives/elective block, if appropriate and with the consent of the MSTP Co-Directors. Unscheduled time in December, set aside for residency interviews, does not count toward vacation time.


Clinical Clerkships

The MD/PhD Program will provide up to 22 months of funding to students returning to Medical School after completing their Ph.D. This will include one month of vacation, one month to interview, and one month to study for Step 2. Funding terminates on the last day of the month of Medical School graduation.

MSTP students will take the Comprehensive Clinical Skills Exam (CCSE) in June (for those starting in April, July, or October) or February (for those in the Accelerated Pathway). You must achieve a passing score in order to graduate.


Pathway-Specific Requirements:

Please see Figure above for a visual comparison of pathways. Details below:

PATHWAY 1: TRADITIONAL

USMLE Step 1

The MSTP requires Pathway 1 students to take Step 1 of the USMLE by March 1 following completion of the Medical School coursework in Year 2. Students are expected to start in the thesis laboratory immediately thereafter, unless a third rotation is scheduled. If a student does not pass STEP 1, they will not be able to continue to work in their thesis laboratory until they do so. Exceptions must be approved by the Director.

Clinical Clerkships

Entry dates are April 1, July 1, and October 1. Please note that the April 1 entry date is the first of clerkship entry points in the calendar year sequence.  For example, if you begin your clerkship year in April, July or October of 2015 than you will graduate in May of 2017. However, a student who misses the October 2015 entry point and enters their clerkship year in April of 2016 will graduate one full calendar year later than planned (May 2018).

Thus, the April entry point cannot be considered a fall back for those who do not meet the October deadline.

Graduation: May


PATHWAY 2: 12 WEEK CLINICAL CLERKSHIP PRIOR TO GRADUATE SCHOOL

Pathway 2 is designed for students who would like to complete 12 weeks of the required core clinical clerkships prior to beginning graduate school and thesis work. Only students who have found a thesis lab during their first two summer rotations are eligible for Pathway 2. Students must consult with the Director and obtain permission prior to selecting this pathway. They must declare their selection to the MSTP Office, Dean Rosenfeld and the Registrar by September of Year 2. These students will enter the lottery for clinical palettes along with the regular medical school class, and their 12-week clerkships will be decided by the outcome.

USMLE Step 1

Pathway 2 students must take Step 1 USMLE upon completion of the 12-week clerkships and prior to starting in a thesis lab, by June 1 of Year 2. If a student does not pass STEP 1, they will not be able to continue to work in their thesis laboratory until they do so. Exceptions must be approved by the Director.

Clinical Clerkships

Entry dates are April 1, July 1, and October 1. Please note that the April 1 entry date is the first of clerkship entry points in the calendar year sequence.  For example, if you begin your clerkship year in April, July or October of 2015 than you will graduate in May of 2017. However, a student who misses the October 2015 entry point and enters their clerkship year in April of 2016 will graduate one full calendar year later than planned (May 2018).

Thus, the April entry point cannot be considered a fall back for those who do not meet the October deadline.

Graduation: May


PATHWAY 3: ACCELERATED 7-YEAR PROGRAM

Pathway 3 is limited to students accepted to the Three Year Pathway to the MD program. The time-to-degree is shortened by truncating elective/selective requirements and eliminating the need for residency applications and interviews. The latter feature is made possible by the conditional acceptance into a residency in the field of the student’s choice at NYU. Students must consult with the Director and obtain permission prior to selecting this pathway.

Eligibility

This pathway is available beginning with the class that matriculated in July 2012. Students who begin clinical clerkships on or before January 1 of their 6th year in the program and who are accepted into the Three Year Pathway to the MD program are eligible for Pathway 3. Students would apply to the accelerated program in October of their 6th year, having completed preclinical training and the majority of graduate school. To apply, students should be committed to their residency choice. Decisions on acceptance will occur in November (students will receive a conditional acceptance to the residency program), and students will begin their core clerkship year in January. Admission to the program depends on an available spot in that residency program.

USMLE Step 1

Pathway 3 students must take Step 1 of the USMLE by March 1 following completion of the Medical School coursework in Year 2. Students are expected to start in the thesis laboratory immediately thereafter, unless a third rotation is scheduled. If a student does not pass STEP 1, they will not be able to continue to work in their thesis laboratory until they do so. Exceptions must be approved by the Director.

Matching

All students accepted into the Three Year MD Pathway will participate in the National Residency Matching Program (NRMP), and our residency program will rank these students to match. As part of a student’s participation in the NRMP, they may apply to residency training outside NYU and rank programs according to their desire. However, the accelerated pathway will not allow for time away from clerkship/selective/electives for residency interviews.

Clinical Clerkships

Clinical Clerkships will begin in January of year 6, followed by clinical electives, selectives, and USMLE Step 2.  Students who apply, but are not accepted into the accelerated pathway, may begin their core clerkships in April, July, or October.

Graduation: May; followed by NYU residency beginning July 1.