The CU MSTP is an integrated program which seeks to ensure that students receive both clinical and scientific training at all stages of the program. This includes scientific content like the Molecules to Medicine course during medical school training as well as the Foundations of Doctoring course during the PhD thesis phase of training. The CU MSTP also offers tailored content during important program transitions. This includes an MSTP-specific preliminary exam during the transition into thesis training as well as an optional clinical elective (MSTP Trailhead) available during the return to medical school from PhD transition. A summary of all MSTP curriculum follows below.
Thesis Years - Foundations of Doctoring (MSTP 7655) allows students to work with a physician scientist preceptor of their choosing during the duration of their PhD. This course is designed to allow the MSTP students to continue their clinical training during their thesis years. They will work in the clinic (or inpatient setting) with an academic physician-scientist who specializes in a clinical area of interest to the student. The goals of this course are to maintain and further the clinical skills learned during Phases I and II, to provide opportunities for MSTPs to engage in clinical/translation scholarly activities, to allow MSTPs to sample potential career choices, and to minimize the anxiety often encountered upon re-entry into the clinics after an extended absence. By interacting at this early stage with a physician-scientist clinical mentor, MSTP students will experience first-hand how academic physicians can effectively and efficiently organize and spend their time. we anticipate that opportunities for establishing collaborations between their research and clinical mentors, involvement in clinical research, and writing of clinical reviews will emerge.
Molecules to Medicine for MSTP students (MSTP 7805) is a journal club-type course for first year MSTP students. One or two students are assigned to a specific topic and are expected to present the background leading up to the paper(s) as well as what was done in the study, the conclusions, and implications of the work. All students in the class are expected to read (and understand) the selected paper(s) and be prepared to ask questions and/or discuss any figure in the paper. MSTP Faculty are selected by the course director, MSTP’s Pre-Clinical Associate Director, and asked to lead a 2-hour session with students, providing 2 articles related to a topic of their choice that the student(s) will present on. The faculty member should provide context for the topic and help guide the discussion and presentations.
MSTP Seminar (MSTP 7645) is a required course for first and third year MSTPs to attend once a week to hear lab rotation talks as well as hear the thesis year MSTPs’ research update talks. This seminar provides an opportunity for the students to also hear from invited guest speakers including MSTP appointed faculty who are actively recruiting for students and includes advisory sessions on topics like developing an individual development plan and choosing the right lab.
Reading with a Professor (MSTP 7652) is intended for MSTP first year students to identify a mentor to meet on a weekly/biweekly basis to discuss papers that have been assigned by the mentor. MSTP students often choose their mentor based on who they will be doing a laboratory rotation allowing the focus of the meetings to be on papers relevant to the summer project with a written proposal at the end regarding the project. The choices of subject and format are up to the student and mentor. The student is expected to show initiative and responsibility in identifying the specific topic.
MSTP Clinical Capstone (MSTP 7755) is a week-long (5-day) clinical immersion course designed to assist MSTP students’ transition back to medical school. Students will follow 2-3 patients, present on rounds, call consultants, and discuss care plans with patients and their families. Additional didactic sessions will focus on logistical aspects of functioning on an inpatient team. Students receive evaluations and feedback to help them gauge their level of preparedness for upcoming medical school curriculum.
MSTP Clinical Trailhead Elective (MSTP8033) is an elective available to MSTPs immediately following the completion of their PhD training prior to taking other clinical coursework in the MD program. This course, currently offered in Internal Medicine or Surgery, is a four week clinical rotation meant to be similar other typical four year medical school electives. It is specific to MSTPs however and is offered as a pass/fail course where students still receive evaluations and are given a hypothetical grade on the Honors/High Pass/Pass scale. This offers MSTPs a low stakes environment to practice their clinical skills after completion of the PhD prior to entering higher stakes curriculum for the remainder of their medical training.
Summer Research Rotations – MSTPs are required to do a minimum of 2 lab rotations before choosing one to be their thesis lab for their PhD work. Students begin their first required summer rotation after completion of the first year curriculum. Students complete a second required laboratory rotation after their second/LIC year. The principal purpose of the two rotations is to aid students in selecting a thesis advisor and to provide exposure to a variety of research problems and laboratory techniques. While rotating, students are encouraged to participate in all lab activities to get an idea of what it will be like to be a member of that particular lab. Students may complete a first rotation in the summer prior to starting Medical School. The choice of a research advisor and project is perhaps the most important decision of the student’s first two years in the program. The quality of the projects underway in the laboratory, the influence of postdoctoral fellows and other students in the lab, the level of the advisor’s involvement and the character of the advisor’s relationship with the student will help to shape the rotation experience.