Once applicants are offered an acceptance, they are invited for a second visit, with travel and lodging expenses paid by the program. While not required, this second visit is strongly recommended. This visit generally has two main functions: to help students 1) have a second look at UNMC’s campus, program, faculty, and facilities and 2) meet with faculty members for potential summer research rotations. Students can accept their admission both before or after this second visit; the visit is beneficial in both cases.
Before arriving on campus, the student will be asked to select faculty members who have research interests that match the student’s; this selection process is meant to give the student additional time with research faculty to help them decide on a summer laboratory rotation. Exploring UNMC’s graduate studies doctoral program website is the best place to start. In addition to contacting the program directors Dr. Justin Mott and Dr. Shelley Smith and the program coordinator Jen Brady, current Scholars are also excellent resources for additional help. Faculty members the student is interested in meeting should be communicated to Jen Brady, who will then arrange meetings with them during the second visit.
Many accepted students in the past have also brought their significant other, friend, or family member to their revisit. While travel expenses will not be covered by the program, the program is more than happy to work with students to arrange shared travel and housing.
Summer Research Rotations
While medical school starts in August, MD-PhD Scholars are asked to arrive on campus in May to begin summer graduate laboratory rotations. Arrival date is flexible depending on circumstance. With the current curriculum, the summers have been shortened from a traditional curriculum, making an early arrival date critical to rotating through potential graduate laboratories.
During that first summer, and before the first year of medical school (M1 year), each student completes two six-week research summer rotations that are designed to develop laboratory skills, establish research interests, and evaluate research mentors. While arrival date can be flexible, it is ideal to come to campus in May in order to have sufficient time to establish research interests and evaluate mentors for choosing a graduate school laboratory.
To begin looking for potential laboratories to rotate in for the summer before M1 year, explore UNMC’s graduate studies doctoral program website, which contain information outlining research topics, current and previous graduate students, and research funding for various laboratories. Current MD-PhD students are also great resources for recommendations. Once a few potential candidates have been chosen, the student can email the faculty member directly or arrange a meeting through Jen Brady. Since students typically arrive on campus in May and are expected to begin their rotations immediately, this step is usually done before the second visit and the second visit is used to meet with potential research mentors.
After talking with the faculty member and visiting their lab, if it is a lab in which the student would like to work, inform the faculty member and contact Jen Brady to confirm the research rotation. We understand that choosing these labs the summer prior to first year can be difficult, especially if the student is not familiar with UNMC, but the MD-PhD Scholars program, faculty, and student body are always willing to help guide all students in the program. Students should always feel comfortable to reach out about what they are struggling with.
At the end of the first summer, there will be an orientation to introduce students to the plethora of UNMC labs seeking students. This orientation is to help the student become aware of other labs they may not have considered and an opportunity to think about other labs for their next summer research rotations.
Students complete two more five-week research rotations the summer before their second year of medical school with the same purposes in mind. Often, throughout first year, students interact with professors whose research they become interested in and build a relationship. They then take the opportunity to rotate through their labs in the summer before their second year of medical school. After these rotations, with experience in three or four labs, the student should have a good idea of which advisor they would like to be mentored under during their graduate school years (G1-G4 years). However, the program is flexible and willing to work with students to find their ideal mentor if they still do not feel a good fit in any lab after these summer rotations.
First Year of Medical School
Medical school begins in August. There is a week-long orientation, filled with information about school as well as social opportunities to bond with the class. Orientation week provides ample opportunity to explore the UNMC campus, meet faculty members, and interact with fellow classmates in a stress-free environment. At the end of orientation, the student will be honored with a white coat at the White Coat Ceremony to welcome students to the medical professional community.
While in medical school, the MD-PhD Scholars are medical students and follow the medical school curriculum, with the added requirement of attending MD-PhD Scholars luncheons every first and third Thursday each month.
Always feel free to contact Jen Brady and the MD-PhD Scholars Program directors Dr. Justin Mott and Dr. Shelley Smith with any questions or concerns. Moreover, talk with older students, who are more than willing to help out in any way they can. Additionally, there will be plenty of events to meet MD-PhD Scholars over the summer, such as our year-round MD-PhD Scholars luncheons, a welcome picnic in June, and our annual MD-PhD Scholars Program two-day retreat in August. These are perfect opportunities to ask questions before classes start in the Fall.