Structure of the Program:
Students enrolled in the MSTP attend medical school for two years and then pursue graduate study for three to four years. Upon completion of their graduate studies, students re-enter medical school and complete their clinical training. However, variations in this program of study can also be undertaken. The SBU medical school has recently implemented a substantially redesigned course of study dubbed the LEARN curriculum.
Students matriculated into the MSTP are considered to have been accepted into both the Medical School and the Graduate School (with an undeclared major for the latter; specific programs of study, e.g. Genetics, Pharmacology, or Neuroscience, are chosen at a later time).
MSTP Fellows are required to participate actively in research during their entire time at SBU. Minimally, this entails performance of two full-time research rotations, one of which is during the summer between years 1 and 2 of the preclinical medical curriculum. MSTP Fellows are strongly encouraged to arrive at SBU the summer before they matriculate in medical school to pursue a research laboratory rotation. While not required, this can make it easier for students to choose laboratories by the time they enter graduate school in year 3.
Year 1 (Phase Ia of the LEARN curriculum):
The First Year of Medical School: The first year curriculum consists of basic science courses and introductory courses related to patient care and professionalism. The basic science courses are Molecules, Genes and Cells; The Body (anatomical sciences and embryology); Neurosciences; Medical Physiology; and Pathology. The other required course is Foundations of Medical Practice, a recent integration of five previously separate courses: Medicine in Contemporary Society (social sciences & humanities in medicine); Introduction to Preventive Medicine; Introduction to Human Behavior; Introduction to Clinical Medicine; and the first segments of Nutrition. The first year Introduction to Clinical Medicine occurs throughout the year and imparts basic skills in taking a patient history and doing a physical examination. The year ends with an Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE), a standarized patient examination, in which students demonstrate their skills on actors in simulated clinical scenarios.
Year 2 (Phase Ib of the LEARN curriculum and the first three months of Phase II):
The Second Year of Medical School: After a course in Microbiology, the second year emphasizes the study of pathophysiology in organ systems. The Systems Approach to Medicine consists of integrated elements of basic and clinical science related to the neuroscience, blood, cardiovascular, endocrine, gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal, psychiatry, renal, reproductive, and respiratory systems. Pharmacology is synchronized with the system segments. Medicine in Contemporary Society and Introduction to Clinical Medicine continue in the second year. The latter focuses on the patient interview, examination and correlative skills as students acquire additional knowledge in physiology, pathology, and the natural history of diseases in the systems course. Students take Step 1 of the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) and participate in a standarized patient examination at the mid-point of the second year. Passage of each is a requirement for advancement into the clinical years of study. Students then perform their first clinical block before entering into the graduate school phase.
Students choose their Graduate Program during the second year of medical school. Students who have already chosen a research field and faculty advisor typically apply join one of the Graduate Programs to which their prospective advisor belongs. MSTP Fellows who have not yet decided upon an advisor join the program of greatest academic relevance to them (this can be changed later as needed) and continue with rotations.
The First Year of Graduate school
- Selection of Thesis Advisor (if needed)
- Graduate coursework (greatly reduced for MSTP students in comparison to regular graduate students)
- Typically, qualifier exam, and thesis proposal defense at end of year or beginning of Year 4
- TA responsibilities (performed later in some programs; MSTP students TA for a single semester at most)
- Seminars and lab rotations or research in thesis lab
- MSTP monthly Journal Club and Clinical Pathological Case presentations
- MSTP monthly clinical scientist dinner meetings
- NRSA fellowship bootcamp with submission of an application to NIH at the end of the year (August, generally).
Year 4 and on - The Second and further Years of Graduate school:
- Qualifier exam
- Organization of Research (Poster and Key Speaker) Day
- Research in thesis lab
- Thesis Proposal Defense
- Clinical experience (Year 3 of graduate school)
- Dissertation Defense
- Seminars, monthly Journal Club and Clinical Pathological Case presentations and clinical scientist dinner meetings
Re-entry to Medical School:
Students can re-enter medical school at any time of the year. Fourteen months of clinical training are required to graduate. Students usually undertake considerably more clinical training though to help them decide on a career path or to increase their competitiveness for highly desirable residency positions. During the transition to medical school, students take refresher courses and confirm their readiness to re-enter by re-taking the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE), a standarized patient examination in which students demonstrate their skills on actors in simulated clinical scenarios.
Phase II of the Learn Curriculum: Completion of the core clerkships
These 9 months are patient-focused and consists of clerkships in medicine, surgery , obstetrics-gynecology and pediatrics, family medicine, ambulatory care, neurology and psychiatry.
Phase III of the Learn Curriculum:
Medical students assume greater patient care responsibilities and continue to acquire clinical and laboratory skills. The curriculum includes subinternships (medicine, family medicine, pediatrics, or general surgery), didactic courses (emergency medicine, laboratory medicine, clinical therapeutics, or surgical anatomy), neurology (if not already taken), a transition to residency course, and additional elective time to complete a minimum of 5 months. USLME Step 2 must be passed to graduate. Generally, in this last year of the program, there is ample time to return to the lab or undertake other research opportunities.