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5-Year MD Training Physician-Scientists

In 2002, the Cleveland Clinic and the School of Medicine entered into a landmark agreement to launch a new medical school program with a mission to train physician-investigators. In July 2004, the new Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University (the College Track) enrolled its first class of 32 medical students.

Distinct Program

The College Track is a distinct, five-year M.D. program within the School of Medicine. Research training is integrated throughout the curriculum and all students engage in a substantive research project. The majority of teaching in the first two years occurs on the Cleveland Clinic campus. Students learn primarily in small groups, using problem-based learning cases, interactive seminars, journal clubs and labs. Clinical training with hands on patient experience begin in the first semester. Students see a wide variety of patients in their primary care preceptors' practices throughout the first two years.

Students in the College Track have scheduled activities (including the clinical curriculum) for a maximum of 21 hours each week during the first year, with four weekday afternoons and one weekday morning of unscheduled time available for independent study, research, graduate courses, and the pursuit of joint degrees or other personal interests.  An additional half day of clinical experience is scheduled in year two.  Each student in the College Track completes a 12 month research project and a master’s level thesis.  Students learn methods and principles of basic and clinical research during summer research blocks and as part of the rest of the basic science and clinical curriculum.  Students graduate with an M.D. with Special Qualifications in Biomedical Research, and may elect additional coursework if they choose to pursue a master's degree. 

Physician Advisers

The assessment process has been designed to enhance student learning.  There are no grades.  Students receive regular feedback regarding their performance and develop educational portfolios that document their progress in defined areas of required competency.  Each College Track student is paired with a physician adviser, who meets regularly with the student throughout all five years of the program, and a research adviser, who directs the student’s research project during the last three years. These faculty-student partnerships also provide personal guidance

This program will appeal most to those who are self-directed learners but who also enjoy learning in teams, who are seeking close working relationships with fellow students and faculty, and who are interested in developing the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed as practicing physician-investigators.