Handbook, Tips and FAQs (frequently asked questions)
A list of Helpful Tips for Students is provided below. This list was created to guide current students through the program,
and to offer prospective students a glimpse of the life of an M.D./Ph.D. student.
In chronological order, program requirements are listed along with helpful hints.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the M.D./Ph.D. program or any topic related to the program from current and prospective students are available in this online resource. If you have a specific question that you would like answered, please feel free to contact us.
The MD/PhD Program Student Handbook is also a useful resource of detailed information about the program.
Helpful Tips for Students
1. Undergraduate years
- Gain research experience, and consider gaining clinical experience (shadowing a physician).
- Complete MCAT. Old exams can be helpful, practice following the time constraints
- Apply to M.D./Ph.D. programs. Scholarships are available!
2. Medical School years 1 & 2
- Laboratory rotations can be completed during the summer before medical school year 1 or between years 1 & 2.
- Complete USMLE I after year 2. "First Aid" & the 30-day plan are helpful.
3. College of Graduate Studies years (usually 3)
- Choose an advisor. Field, funding, personality, and lab space are important considerations.
- Benchwork! Experiments! Real true science! Don't forget to fill out a Plan of Study.
- Read, read, read. Essential to know your area, and good to stay abreast of other topics too.
- Choose a committee. Consider an M.D.(/Ph.D.) committee member.
- Complete qualifying examination. This entails a written grant proposal and oral presentation.
- Publish your results. It's gratifying to type your name into Pubmed, and get a hit!
- Defend your thesis. Present your work to committee, faculty, students, and friends.
4. Medical School years 3 & 4
- Enter clinical rotations. Learn about hospitals and marvel at how much information you've forgotten!
- Schedule specialties of interest for late in year 3. Schedule electives at other institutions too.
- Apply for residency, take USMLE II, consider reviving lab work during year
- No. Students have the option to do laboratory rotations in the College of Graduate Studies in the summer prior to their first year of medical school, but this is only an option.
- Students who opt to complete a laboratory rotation during the summer prior to their first year of medical school will gain added insight into ongoing research at UT-HSC, fulfill one or two of their required laboratory rotations, and receive a graduate student stipend for the summer term.
2. When applying to the M.D./Ph.D. combined degree program, what do I do if I am not sure which Ph.D. program I would like to join?
- Try to narrow down your decision by going to each Ph.D. program's homepage and investigate the specific research that is ongoing in that particular track (Cancer Biology; Cardiovascular and Metabolic Diseases; Infection, Immunology and Transplantation; Neurosciences and Neurological Disorders). Keep in mind that a number of professors are actually members of two or more Ph.D. programs.
- Choose the program that most fits your desired area of research. If a particular professor in another program has an opening in his/her lab and you are very interested in his/her research, you can switch programs once you are at the University of Toledo. Alternatively, the professor may be able to become a faculty member of your Ph.D. program.
3. I am an incoming M.D./Ph.D. student. How do I set up a laboratory rotation in the summer before my first year of medical school?
- You should begin by contacting the graduate school (see the "Contact Us" page on our website for contact information). Let them know that you would like to register for laboratory rotations during the summer. They will provide you with the necessary information on registering to do your laboratory rotations. They should also let you know that each of the Ph.D. programs allow M.D./Ph.D. students to do two laboratory rotations in a summer term.
- Next, you should find a lab that has ongoing research in your area of interest. The easiest way to do this is to go to the website of your particular Ph.D. track(Cancer Biology; Cardiovascular and Metabolic Diseases; Infection, Immunology and Transplantation; Neurosciences and Neurological Disorders) to find out what type of research is being conducted at the University of Toledo. When you find a lab of interest, contact the principal investigator by email or phone to set up a summer term lab rotation.
- If you run into trouble, contact the graduate school (see the "Contact Us" page of our website) or a current M.D./Ph.D. student in your program (see the "People" page of our website) for help. We are all here to help you.
- You should be actively looking for research labs and potential graduate research advisors so that you can complete your required lab rotations and find an advisor for your thesis studies.
- You should try to attend some of the functions associated with your Ph.D. program, including seminars and the Graduate Student Research Forum. Attending the Graduate Student Research Forum in spring would be a great way to find out what kind of research projects are ongoing here. This may help you pick a lab to do your thesis studies in the future.
2. What extra classes (in addition to my first & second year medical school classes) do I have to take?
- The complete answer to this question depends on which Ph.D. program you have joined (Cancer Biology; Cardiovascular and Metabolic Diseases; Infection, Immunology and Transplantation; Neurosciences and Neurological Disorders). Remember, all M.D./Ph.D. students need to take the required courses discussed in the "Outline" page on this website (see the left sidebar) as well as any additional track-specific courses.
- To earn the PhD degree, all students (PhD and MD/PhD) are required to take 90 course credits. Of this, at least 25 credits need to be didactic coursework (letter grade) and at least 30 credits must be dissertation research (which can only be taken after completion of the Ph.D. qualifying exam). The remainder of the 90 credits can be filled with electives and "Research in Your Track" courses. M.D./Ph.D. students will be allowed to apply up to 26 credits from their medical school courses toward their Ph.D. degree, of which only 20 credits may be applied toward the minimum requirement of 25 didactic (carrying a letter grade) graduate course credits.
3. What clinical rotation should I start with after finishing my graduate school years?
- Several students have stated that it really isn't that critical which rotation you start with when you re-enter medical school. This year, two MD/PhD students entered their clinical clerkships. One started with Medicine (12 weeks) and the other with Surgery (12 weeks). Each were successful with respect to their grades and made the transition rather quickly.
- The advantage to starting with one of the longer clerkships is that you set the stage for the rest of the year. The knowledge gained on Medicine or Surgery certainly makes the following shorter rotations easier. You could start with one of the 6 week clerkships (Family Medicine, Pediatrics, OB/Gyn, or Psychiatry) and probably do just as well. The 6 week rotations tend to be a bit easier in demand. If you want to start of with an easier rotation, Pediatrics or Psychiatry (Family Medicine and OB/Gyn are a bit more involved due to the volume of information covered).
- You will likely do well regardless of which rotation you start with, so long as you work at it.