MSTP Guidelines for Returning to Medical School In Year 3 (Phase II)

Timeline for an organized return

Ask to be added to the 2nd year medical student e-mail list in the summer prior to when you are thinking of returning. Any student in the PhD years can be added to the list at their request and discretion, without approval from me or anyone else on any level. Permitting students to be informed about the 2nd year process through e-mails costs no effort to us, and does not create any commitment on our part to permit the student to use the electronic registration system or to re-enter using the ad-hoc mechanism.

August: Think about whether it may be possible to return to medical school within 9-11 months (e.g. by July of the following year).

When you begin to think that you would like to re-enter medical school, start by speaking with your advisor and thesis committee about 9 months to a year in advance, and then six months later, to make sure that it's not impossible.

December-January: Hold a thesis committee meeting to find out in what time frame your advisor and committee think you can finish. Has your thesis committee given you permission to write? If it is hopeless to finish by July (or earlier, depending on your interests), then plan to meet with the committee again in a year and aim for April of the following year.

- If the committee and your advisor are positive, then schedule your thesis defense date as a goal well in advance to avoid last minute disasters, counting backwards from the thesis submission deadline to give yourself time to get it in without risk (e.g. at least   one week between deadline and thesis defense date). This will ensure that your committee members are available when the time comes, which can otherwise be a step that causes serious delays at the last moment.

- Counting forwards, you can then plan on two weeks to revise the thesis and submit it;   the re-entry date should be after this. Adding a month or two of reserve time would be prudent. If you wind up finishing early, Caroline can usually squeeze in a small clinical elective for you to do, or you may wish to prepare better for re-entry, or take a short vacation, or there may be things you could productively do in the lab.
- Counting backwards, you will need to give your thesis to the committee two weeks before the defense, and will need 1-2 months to write it (less if you start on it quietly at an earlier point and do as much as you can).

IMPORTANT: Once the re-entry date is set, do NOT contact just Caroline Lazzaruolo to change the re-entry date. If it becomes increasingly clear that the thesis defense date can not be met, then the issue of timing will need to be re-addressed by discussion with Caroline Lazzaruolo, the advisor, committee chair, and MSTP Co-directors. A new date will be set that represents the best, new, safe, guess for completion of the PhD requirements.

Failure to comply with this rule may lead to a failing grade in a 3rd year clerkship, suspension from the program, and / or loss of stipend.
* The formal requirement for graduation is approximately 14 months of clinical training. However, most MSTP students nationally take 16-17 months of courses (i.e., entering by mid-late Fall), and some like to have a full two years (i.e., entering July 1st). Many factors determine the best course of action and the ideal path differs for students when considered as individuals. The factors include whether the student is interested in post-graduate residency training (most are) versus basic science training; whether the student knows what type of post-graduate residency training they wish to undertake, or at least have significantly narrowed down the choices; and how well the student performed in their first two years of medical school and on the Step I exam, which will affect their competitiveness for top-ranked residency programs. Students with strong academic records who know what type of residency they wish to pursue can safely enter on the later side. Students with weaker records or who wish to determine their clinical career path after experiencing most of all of the 3rd year courses should plan to enter on the earlier. The timing of residency applications makes April-July the most popular times for re-entry; students will have the last semester largely open in this case and can pursue the mini-sabbatical or other non-course options.

The Return of the Med Student

Overview: A lot of info follows, some in random order. Please read over and work with Alison & Cinthia on the specific items as the process unfolds. All will become clear with time.

The 3rd year course structure changes frequently, so it is important to learn about any changes new to this year.

– but the basic idea is that the year is composed of four blocks of courses, which in some cases are further subdivided into sub-blocks. As an MSTP student, you can return as early as ~ April 1st (Block 2) to start with the regular students. It is not warranted to return in January (Block 1), since MSTP students have already taken Step I, which the regular students will need to devote time to to study for a while later on.

– or re-enter at a later time at the beginning of a subsequent block or sub-block.

How late can you or should you return? Technically, you can return as late as January and still manage to complete the required courses in time to graduate the following May.

a) If anything happens to delay you, and such things have happened to several students in recent years, you would not make it in time, and would then need an extra semester to graduate. Such things include – family circumstances (child birth, or illnesses or death of family member); personal circumstances (stress or health- related leave of absence); or academic difficulty (if you fail a course shelf-exam, the remediation could cost a few months).

b) If the needing of an extra semester caused you to need 5 semesters of tuition to finish, the 5th semester is on you (e.g. return in November, lose several months for some reason, and then not be able to graduate the following May) – the Dean will not pay for it (nor can the MSTP – no funds to do so).

c) Since your Dean’s letter and residency applications are prepared in August - September of your 4th year, keep in mind that the fewer months of clinical work you do, the less strong the letter will be. Losing a few months is not terribly important – but since most students would like to get a letter from a Sub-I preceptor, and you can't take a Sub-I until you've finished all of Phase II, this makes returning after July impractical.

d) You may need more time to figure out what residency you would like to do. If you know, great – but if you have an open mind, then you could wind up unwilling to enter into the match because you are uncertain as to what career path you’d like to do (and hence wind up taking an extra year).

So basically, if you want to do a postdoc instead of a residency, or know what residency you want to do, have good Part I scores, and have confidence about your skills upon returning, you can re-enter on the late side (July) – but other wise should try to come back earlier (April). For the complete Third Year Schedule, please click on the link.

Thesis Submission Deadline to the Graduate School: Please click on the link for the summary of deadlines.

You may not enter year 3 of med school until all PhD responsibilities are completed - i.e. your dissertation needs to have been submitted to the Graduate School before physically starting the clerkship (we will need confirmation of the submission of the thesis by the Graduate School by e-mail). Students need to satisfy all other requirements before re-entering (e.g. the mini-courses taken in January, etc.). Please make sure you do not have any outstanding financial holds on your account when you graduate, as financial holds prevent the release of official transcripts and diplomas.

Once you have a thesis defense date, send an e-mail to the MSTP Co-Directors and Administrator, to request a specific re-entry date. The Co-Directors will discuss the feasibility of the date with your advisor and thesis committee chair and return a message to confirm the re-entry date or request additional discussion. The Administrator will ask the Dean's office to add you to the medical school MS2 e-mail list. Once you are registered, please make sure to check your stonybrookmedicine e-mail account on a regular basis to obtain relevant information on the registration process and as to the requirements needed and for all official medical school information.

You will need to satisfactorily perform, take, and pass a simulated patient experience (OSCE, non-graded). In some cases, at Dr. Wackett's discretion, he may waive the exercise if the student has been engaged in a clinical activity during the prior year and he is already comfortable that their clinical skills are acceptable. The MSTP administrator will contact the Dean's office to arrange this.

Electronic registration: Follow guidelines for the MS2 class, alerting the Dean's office as to your anticipated date of entry.

Ad-hoc re-entry: This consists of meeting with Caroline Lazzaruolo to hand-pick your schedule after you have formally set a thesis defense date. The re-entry date needs to be at least one week after the thesis defense date to permit time for thesis corrections and submission of the thesis to the graduate school, and two weeks would provide a greater margin of safety. Note that, depending on the time of the year, Caroline may want to hold off actually generating the ad-hoc schedule until closer to the actual re-entry time, since many clerkships that are filled up initially become available later as some students defer or drop clerkships to take other ones.

Note – over the years, students have been fairly equally satisfied with both the electronic and ad-hoc mechanisms. There is a lot of debate through about the best order to take clerkships in, which may vary depending on your interests. The MS3 and MS4 students have some strong feelings about this and would be happy to share them with you if you wish.

You will need to get "matriculated" (administratively re-enter med school). Cinthia will assist with this, as well as with notifying your Graduate Program Coordinator of the date that you plan to return to medical school so that you can be switched from your advisor's grant to SoM funding (+/- NRSA). Getting matriculated will entail paperwork - please be responsive to e-mails from Cinthia, Alison, and the Dean's office, and coordinate the transition at least a month in advance.

School of Medicine Academic Policy and Procedures