The MSTP offers an integrated curriculum through the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and the Vanderbilt University Graduate School. Our trainees fulfill all of the requirements for completion of the M.D. and Ph.D. degrees.
Foundations in Medicine
MSTP trainees complete the first two years of the medical curriculum prior to the initiation of graduate research training. During the first two years students complete foundational coursework in medicine during the Foundations in Medical Kowledge (FMK) and Foundations in Clinical Care (FCC) years. The FMK year provides case-based discussion focusing on the analysis and basic science relevant to normal and diseased states. The FCC year introduces our students to patient care through clerkship rotations in the general medical sciences, including Medicine, Surgery, Pediatrics, OB/GYN, and Neurology and Psychiatry.
During the first year of preclinical medical school training, MSTP students complete two laboratory rotations, one prior to entry in the FMK year and the other between the FMK and FCC years. After completion of the Foundations in Clinical Care year, students select a mentor and a graduate department for graduate studies. Sufficient time is available after successful completion of the Step 1 board exam for our students to conduct additional laboratory rotations if necessary.
The cornerstone of the Vanderbilt MSTP is training in science afforded by a vigorous Ph.D. experience. MSTP students can earn their degree in one of fifteen Ph.D.-granting departments and training programs: Biochemistry, Biological Sciences, Biomedical Engineering, Biomedical Informatics, Cancer Biology, Cell & Developmental Biology, Chemical & Physical Biology, Epidemiology, Health Policy, Human Genetics, Mechanical Engineering, Microbe-Host Interactions, Molecular Pathology & Immunology, Molecular Physiology & Biophysics, Neuroscience, or Pharmacology.
The graduate phase of training for MSTP students is equivalent to that of our conventional Ph.D. students, who complete 72 credit hours of graduate work; 24 of which are derived from formal coursework. Where appropriate, departments may use medical school courses for didactic credit. Students must maintain a “B” average and pass a qualifying exam following the completion of coursework. Although the composition of the qualifying exam varies by department, it serves to test the trainee’s knowledge of skills necessary for a career in scholarly research.
In addition to spending the first Graduate School year (G1) taking required courses and preparing for the Ph.D. qualifying exam, MSTP students continue their dissertation research. Full-time research is initiated in the spring or summer semester of the first graduate year and continues for a total of 3 to 4 years in most cases.
The culmination of graduate training is the defense of a dissertation describing original research that significantly advances knowledge in the field. The dissertation must be successfully defended before the student resumes medical training.
Clinical Immersion in Medicine
MSTP students enter the Clinical Immersion year, the final year of medical school, in July and have the option of taking the full menu of medical school electives. Required immersion courses must be completed in lieu of clinical elective opportunities. A total of 76 clinical weeks (48 for FCC and 28 for Immersion) must be completed to fulfill the requirements for the M.D. degree at Vanderbilt.