Program Structure - The Curriculum
The Beginning - Challenges
First-year trainees meet with the DO-PhD Director soon after arrival to MSU and review the structure, timeline, and expectations of the program. Each first year student composes a "short list" of 3 – 4 laboratories from which to choose a potential PhD advisor. Students begin the first summer semester in the DO-PhD Program carrying out a laboratory rotation. DO-PhD Physician Scientist Trainees take graduate school courses and rotations during the first year of their training. First year DO-PhD students engage a graduate track analogous to that pursued by traditional PhD students. The actual coursework and dissertation requirements will depend on the Department or Program chosen by the student. These experiences serve as the initial mechanisms for exposure to research at MSU, research advisors, and other graduate students. The Director and DO-PhD Advisors meet with first year students following fall and spring semesters. Beginning year 2, and until graduation, from the program students and their mentors meet every year with the Director and DO-PhD Advisors.
In the summer, at the beginning of Year Two, second year students take anatomy and begin the two year medical curriculum. It is challenging to continue research through years two and three, but DO-PhD students are encouraged to make time each week to be in the laboratory and attend weekly lab meetings. Students remain involved in the laboratory at some level, so that after they have taken the board exams in the summer of the 3rd year they embark full-time on dissertation research and completion of any remaining graduate course requirements.
The Middle - Stay the Course
The Summer of the third year through the Fall of the beginning of the sixth year, DO-PhD students pursue full-time graduate training. In addition, students also participate in the Core Clinical Clerkship one day a week. Most students complete 4-5 months of this six-month clerkship. On average, PhD research draws to a close at the beginning of year 7 of training, allowing most DO-PhD students to complete both degrees in 8 years. However, completion of doctoral dissertation research can not alwyas be determined and some students may complete the DO-PhD Program in 7 years.
During the summer of year four, DO-PhD students are required to write a National Research Service Award (NRSA) or a similar proposal to another agency, based on the topic of his or her PhD research. This requirement is designed to help a student develop a research plan and educate the student about the life of a physician-scientist (e.g., by writing a research proposal that will be in competition for research funding). It also serves as the basis for the PhD program Comprehensive written Exam normally taken the beginning of Year 5 by DO-PhD stundents.
At the end of year four or beginning of year five, DO-PhD students in most Programs or Departments will take the The Comprehensive Exam (Preliminary) Examination for candidacy to the PhD.This normally consists of three parts, a written research proposal, an open seminar, and closed questioning by the preliminary examination committee.
Finishing Fast and Furious to the End
Typically students, complete and defend their dissertation the fall of the 6th/7th year. Typicall DO-PhD students enter the hospital-based clinical curriculum in late fall/early winter. The clinical curriculum requires 84 weeks of clerkships. However, because DO-PhD students have taken a portion of the Core Clinical clerkship curriculum, they will have 68 weeks of clerkships to complete. DO-PhD students can also use 12 weeks of research toward their clerkship requirements.
Doctoral Research portion of curriculum may take longer than what is represented