In their first year at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, MSTP trainees are immersed in an integrated curriculum which includes both graduate coursework (biochemistry, cell biology, molecular genetics, and/or other courses) as well as the first year medical school curriculum. This first year begins with an accelerated MSTP Histology course during the summer preceding the medical and graduate academic terms. In addition to this histology course, an integrated MSTP Physiology course and an accelerated MSTP Clinical and Developmental Anatomy course allow for the first year MSTP trainee to take graduate school courses while completing the Albert Einstein College of Medicine's first year medical school curriculum.
An advisor, who is responsible for overseeing the progress of the MSTP trainee, is assigned to each student upon arrival. The student and advisor discuss the choice of research rotations from the over 230 laboratories in 12 degree granting departments available to the MSTP trainee. MSTP students can also perform their thesis research in clinical research programs via the PhD in Clinical Investigation run by the Einstein-Montefiore Institute for Clinical and Translational Research. These rotations take place during the first and second summers, and give the student valuable opportunities to learn new skills and identify a field of science that is of interest for thesis work.
After completing the first year medical and graduate school curricula and several summer lab rotations, during the second year, MSTP trainees devote themselves to the medical school organ system pathophysiology and pathology curriculum and preparation for the first step of the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE Step 1). Based on their lab rotations, during their second year, MSTP trainees select a PhD thesis advisor. Ph.D. mentors must be members of the faculty of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Candidates for the MD-PhD degree may pursue laboratory research in any of the College's degree granting departments. Students perform one clinical clerkship before starting in the laboratory.
Starting in Year 3, MSTP student commence their PhD thesis research. In conjunction with their mentor, students develop their thesis projects and and choose the remainder of their elective graduate coursework to fit individual needs and research interests. The next three to four years are devoted to the performance of the research which constitutes the PhD thesis. Students are expected to publish at least one first author peer-reviewed paper. On average students publish four papers and two first author papers. During the PhD phase of the program students may participate in the MSTP Continuity Clinic, an outpatient ambulatory care clinic run by the MSTP at Jacobi Medical Center. This allows students to develop their clinical skills one evening per week. Students also participate in monthly Clinical Pathological Conferences and Career Seminars.
After defending the PhD dissertation, students engage in intensive clinical study. They must complete the required five core clinical clerkships (medicine, ob/gyn, pediatrics, psych, surgery) and a sub-internship (medicine, pediatrics, or adolescent medicine). Additional elective clinical courses can be arranged depending on individual student’s interests. Further information is available on the medical school clinical curriculum site. The close proximity of the Weiler and Jacobi hospitals, where many clerkships are performed, to the basic science buildings allows for continued interaction with the preclinical faculty during these final months. MSTP trainees graduate with both PhD and MD degrees, and most continue to pursue careers in academic biomedical research at the finest institutions in the country.
The integration of medical and scientific training and the independent curriculum for the Einstein MSTP is unique. While other schools will push students through the labors of becoming both a doctor and a scientist, they usually do so separately, through a medical school curriculm and a graduate school curriculm. Thus, their training may not accomplish the goal of bridging the gap between medicine and science.