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University of South Dakota's FIRST Physician Scientist Class in 2006

by Michael Johns, Project Manager | July 18, 2006
The University of South Dakota has a new Physician Scientist Program
The most significant discoveries in medicine result from collaboration between the basic sciences and clinical medicine. Until recently, this effort has involved teams of medical doctors (MDs) partnered with PhD researchers. Now, the concept of physician scientist has attracted a considerable amount of attention. Physician scientists play a unique role in contemporary medical research, having received extensive training in both medicine and fundamental research. Physician scientists typically hold a combined MD/PhD degree. Approximately half of the medical schools nationwide offer the MD/PhD degree.

Students entering these programs are among the best and brightest, with extremely high levels of motivation. Prior to the development of the physician scientist training program, students seeking the dual degree had to enroll in four years of clinical studies towards the MD degree in addition to the five to seven years of study needed for the PhD degree. In these separate programs, students earning the dual MD/PhD degree would require from nine to eleven years of study and would still not be properly prepared for a role as a physician scientist. The separate degree programs do not provide the integration skills that only a truly combined MD/PhD program provides.

Program of Study
The Physician Scientist program at Sanford School of Medicine of The University of South Dakota provides your training following a program of study that should be completed in approximately seven years.

Years 1 and 2
Prior to the start of the first year of structured instruction, Physician Scientist students will receive instruction in the Responsible Conduct of Research. This course provides students with practical instruction regarding the rules, regulations and professional best practices that are the foundation of Biomedical Research. The fall/spring semesters of Year 1 and 2 are devoted to the preclinical course work of the medical training program. The summer semester of Year 1 provides time for the student's research activities. During this session, the student will become acquainted with the research opportunities at Sanford School of Medicine and will select their area of dissertation research. At the start of the second summer of the Physician Scientist program, students will prepare for and pass Step 1 of the USMLE.

Years 3, 4 and 5
This two or three year block is devoted to course work and research appropriate to the student's area of specialization. The course work within this block will vary considerably and will be customized for the interests and needs of each physician scientist student. The student will complete all research, and prepare and defend the written dissertation document during this period of study.

Years 6 and 7
The first phase of this part of the Physician Scientist program of study involves the student rotating through the clerkships of the clinical sciences of Sanford School of Medicine of The University of South Dakota. The second phase consists of a combination of clinical clerkship courses and clinical electives.

Note: The Sanford School of Medicine's commmitment to excellence was recognized in their Ranking as one of Best in Nation for Rural Medicine and Family Medicine by U.S. News and World Report!

To find out more about this exciting new program in the medical field, go to the new Physician Scientist Program on the University of South Dakota website.


This information is reposted with thanks to the University of South Dakota!