The curriculum for MD/PhD students includes the major portions of the medical school and graduate college curricula in a manner that economizes on time, eliminates duplication, and provides an integrated physician-scientist education. While the exact amount of time it takes to complete both degrees will vary from student to student, the curriculum includes flexibility that makes it possible for many students to finish in seven years.
Summer Year 1 – Required Research Rotation #1
Students arrive in June and complete a summer-long research rotation, working with an investigator of their choosing.
Year 1 – 1st Year Medical School
New MD/PhD students complete the prescribed program of first year (M1) medical school courses. Connections to research are maintained by a variety of MSTP activities and seminars, targeted either for all our students, or specifically for M1 and M2 students.
Summer Year 2 – Required Research Rotations
Students complete either one or two laboratory/research rotations, individualized according to student goals and prior experiences.
Year 2 – 2nd Year Medical School
MD/PhD students complete all second year (M2) medical school courses. However, the discussion group portion of the curriculum differs for MD/PhD students, allowing our students time to take a graduate course or work in a laboratory. During the M2 year, students select a department and a mentor for their forthcoming PhD studies.
Summer Year 3 – USMLE Step 1 & Selecting a PhD Department and Mentor
Students prepare for and take the US Medical Licensing Exam Step 1. Once the exam is completed, students finalize their selection of a PhD advisor and enter a PhD degree program. If necessary, they first complete an additional research rotation, often in the lab they will end up in for their PhD studies.
Year 3 and onward – PhD Courses
Students embark on their graduate studies and complete the coursework, examination, and dissertation requirements for their PhD degrees. Course requirements are modified to diminish overlap with medical school course content. Students maintain their clinical skills by participating in a Clinical Connections endeavor mentored by diverse clinical faculty, and may volunteer in the UIC student-run free clinic at nearby Community Health.
Summer before commencing M3
A clinical refresher course is offered in early June to students who are about to start their M3 clinical rotations or will do so within the summer or autumn semester.
Years 6 and 7 or 7 and 8 – Completion of Medical School Requirements
In part because students complete their PhD work at varying times of the calendar year, the last two years of medical school include flexibility for MD-PhD students. Students may begin their M3 rotations as early as June or as late as January of their 6th (or 7th) year and still graduate in May of the subsequent academic year.
• Advisors – all students in the Program receive periodic personal advising sessions and constant monitoring by the Director, Associate Director and Assistant Director. Special advising sessions are scheduled on request by the student or as a result of a perceived need by the directorate. Any or all of the directors are available to all students at all the time.
• Lunch Seminars- M1 and M2 students attend a series of bi-weekly lunchtime seminars throughout the academic year given by professors representing a broad range of scientific and clinical disciplines. These seminars acquaint the M1 and M2 students with the spectrum of research opportunities at UIC.
• Dinner Seminars –All students in the Program attend a series of monthly or bi-monthly dinner seminars presented by distinguished faculty of UIC and other institutions chosen by the Student Activities Committee. The topics of these talks are geared to a wider audience in that they are broader in scope than the lunch seminars which deal with work of specific research labs at UIC. These talks are open to UIC faculty and graduate students, many of whom attend as guests of the Program. A lively discussion session follows each of the formal presentations.
• Grand Rounds – The MSTP conducts its own series of student Grand Rounds seminars open to the entire student and faculty population of the institution. Each seminar is presented by a pair of students, one covering the clinical aspects of the chosen topic, the other the research aspects. Each student in the Program is required to present at least two times, once on the research side of a topic and once on the clinical side of another topic. Usually these seminars are held in conjunction with a seminar series in a clinical department relevant to the topic of discussion, thus exposing the students to an audience of experts who appreciate the efforts of the students.
• Annual Research Day – The Program supports the College of Medicine's annual all-day Student Research Forum, held in November, at which students may present posters on their research. Faculty judges review all presentations and the COM awards monetary prizes to the best ones, plus the opportunity and the financial support to compete at the regional and national levels. On the night before the Forum, the Program hosts a dinner seminar in which some of its students give oral presentations on their research.
• Annual Retreat – The Program sponsors an off-campus retreat in August for all students in the Program. Held at a recreational venue, the retreat includes a seminar by a distinguished guest speaker, student talks and posters, interactive break-out sessions, sports of all kinds, an evening cook-out and a lots of time for relaxing and enjoying each other's company.
• Special ECM Discussion Group – Combining the M1s and M2s of the Program into their own dedicated discussion group in the essentials of clinical medicine areas allows them to schedule their meetings at a time that is most convenient for their special academic needs, to select those topics from the total syllabus that are most relevant to their medical scientist training, and to eliminate activities that are redundant with graduate school. The freed-up time allows the M2 students to do their third required basic science lab rotation or take a graduate school course, thereby getting a jump start on their academic requirements of the following year when they start their PhD studies.