Thursday, August 6, 2009

MSTP vs. MD-PhD (and other useful acronyms)

In a previous post I used the term MSTProgram without fully explaining what it meant. I would like to use this post to explain the difference between and MSTP and other MD-PhD programs.

MSTP stands for Medical Scientist Training Program and it is the designation given to programs that receive funding from the NIH. While most of these programs have an operating budget that comes from several sources besides the NIH they must follow the guidelines the NIH sends out. They also receive on site inspections by a panel selected by the NIH when they submit their competitive grant renewals. MSTP's are generally considered more prestigous than non MSTP programs that offer the dual degree. They also usually have more competitive financial packages and stipends for students.

There are many quality MD-PhD programs that do not receive NIH funding and are therefore not given the MSTP designation. With these schools, as with all schools, you must do your research to make sure it is the right program for you and will offer the right support, mentoring and carer advancement. In a future post I will include a list of common issues you should inquire about when looking into MD-PhD programs.

WHile I am on the subject of acronyms there re a few I wouldlike to define now. Almost everyone in the science field uses them or knows what they mean, and so should you! While I try not to use anything without defining it, I often slip. Sometimes it seems like science has a whole different language, the sooner you learn it the better.

PI: Primary Investigator. This is the head of a lab, essentially your "boss"
MCAT: Medical College Admissions Test What you must take to gain admittance to a medical school
MD: Medical Doctor
DO: DOctor of steopathy. A graduate of an osteopathic medical college. They can do pretty much what a regular MD does but they have also taken courses is manual manipulation and are supposed to be more "hollistic" physicians.
USMLE: United States Medical Licensing Exam. The exam all MD's take to be licensed. It is divided into into three "steps" that you take at different points in your career
COMLEX: The DO version of the USMLE
MS1: Medical Student Year 1. The way you tell people what year of medical school you are in.

There are millions of acronyms related to your particular scientific field or writing a note in a medical chart. I'll deal with those when I have to use them.

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