|Arnav Moudgil||Mentorship can mean many things to different people...|Mentorship can mean many things to different people. At WashU, the MSTP enables, and encourages, multiple forms of mentorship. During preclinical years, students have regular meetings with the program director to discuss research interests and potential thesis advisors. These sessions help to identify successful labs and plan rotations. In the graduate school years, direct mentorship becomes multifaceted. The MSTP pairs each student with a practicing clinician-scientist for longitudinal advising sessions during the research years. Within my DBBS graduate program, I met with program directors once every semester to discuss coursework, plan for the qualifying exam, and get feedback on assembling my thesis committee. After my thesis proposal, the committee became the de facto form of institutional mentorship. In addition to formal advisory meetings, my committee members have always been open to informal, one-on-one meetings for more nuanced feedback. Lastly, I’ve been fortunate to have a thesis advisor committed to strong and continuing mentorship of graduate students. I have a standing appointment, every week, with my advisor. This is an invaluable opportunity to discuss not merely data and results, but also career development and philosophy. I encourage all students to have such meetings if possible.
While the previous section covers a minimal set of formalized mentorships, numerous informal advisors abound. One of the great strengths of the WashU MSTP is its size, and, as a result, older students have a wealth of experience to offer. Between weekly seminars and annual events like the retreat and Winter Dinner, there are ample opportunities to seek out advice. Finally, the MSTP office staff of Brian, Christy, Liz, and Linda are experts in helping trainees navigate both their large and small day-to-day responsibilities. Altogether, MSTP students benefit from several generous and complementary mentorships.
|Britt Andersen||Learning about different cultures and customs...|
It is great being an international student in the Washington University MSTP! There are multiple international students in my class, signifying that the program truly admits students based on merit irrespective of citizen status. The Washington University community is very diverse and includes nationals of many different countries; however, St. Louis and particularly Missouri, is not quite as international. With that said, I have only found St. Louisans and Missourians to be friendly and curious to learn about different cultures and customs. I have been able to visit my home country of Denmark once or twice every year since moving to St. Louis, and that has been amazing! St. Louis living is very affordable; therefore, you can save money to travel, and St. Louis Lambert International Airport has descent options for most destinations, assuming you don't mind an extra layover. My Danish friends and family as well as other international visitors who were not familiar with St. Louis or Missouri prior to their visit have all been pleasantly surprised.
|Chinwendu Amazu||A place to connect with trainees across all professions...|
I have spent my life in three major places: Nigeria, Maryland and Missouri. Each location provided me a different environment to grow, learn and mature. But I would have to say living in St. Louis has been a major place of growth because of the MSTP training I am pursuing currently. St. Louis has provided me a lot of amazing experiences thus far. St. Louis is an inexpensive city, with major city attractions. Working and living close to Forest Park has provided me an outdoor adventure in my backyard. I love live music and St. Louis is known for their amazing taste of music, music legends and concerts throughout the year. The Lou provides a place to connect with trainees across all professions over happy hours, amazing restaurants and nice night life. The seasonal variations provide the opportunity to experience a beautiful fall and spring with a long summer to do awesome outdoor activities. The accessibility to other major cities at a cheaper price provides a get-a-way anytime I want to leave St. Louis. St. Louis is quiet enough that I can focus in on my studies and lab work but busy enough that if I want to explore, there is something out there for me. St. Louis is always building new chains, adding new buildings and expanding their entertainment and social life. I am thankful that I get to live in a city similar to the Chicagos and the LAs but save money to invest in other ventures I am interested in.
|Derek Barisas||Building relationships at year-round MSTP events...|
The WashU MSTP staff is the glue that holds the MSTP community together. Year-round they work hard to organize events that help connect us with our peers. Individual MSTP classes meet each week to go to their lunchtime journal club, and on Thursdays MSTPs of all years descend upon seminar for dinner, science, and advice. Throughout the year, we come together for a summer BBQ, a winter dinner, and a weekend retreat. While 8 years can feel like a long time, knowing people at all stages of the process makes it seem possible. Moreover, education doesn’t happen only in a classroom. I have learned a ton from conversations with my peers, both about science and life, and I am hopeful that those connections will last far beyond my time at WashU. I am really thankful for the MSTP office because they look out for us so we can focus on patients, experiments, tests, or whatever demands our attention and still have opportunities to build relationships with the wonderful array of people that make up the MSTP program.
|Emma Winkler||I want to be a physician-scientist because I want to bridge the divide...|We currently live in an incredible era of biomedical research that has bloomed substantially over the past decades. Marvelous technological advances in microscopy, imaging, genetics, computation, and structural determination have transformed not only how we do basic research, but have heavily influenced many disciplines of medicine, leading to discoveries that now substantially impact patient care. Despite the resources and intense energy that are now channeled into better understanding human disease, there is no shortage of new questions and it seems that the more we know, the more aware we are of what we do not know.
Simultaneously, the cultures and environments that surround clinicians and scientists can be, at times, strikingly dissimilar. I have begun to appreciate more and more through my training with the WashU MSTP that both these groups speak their own language and having the ability to successfully navigate both these environments is something extremely valuable with great utility. I want to be a physician-scientist because I want to bridge the divide that exists between these two very complementary yet distinct communities. As a physician-scientist, I want to harness the power of these technological and scientific advances to better understand human health and disease with the ultimate hope of improving the lives of my patients in enduring ways.
|Estefania Fernandez||The transition back into medical school has been seamless...|
From the beginning of training, the MST program works together with the medical school and the graduate school (in my experience, the immunology program) to facilitate the coursework for students. This translated to being able to being able to jump into lab full-time when I started graduate school. This was instrumental in allowing me to move forward with my research and still provided a strong foundation for my graduate training. The transition back into medical school has been seamless and that has been truly thanks to the MSTP administration. I was able to return to clinic in December and will have the opportunity to explore specialties that I am interested in prior to making any long-term decisions without needing to delay my graduation!
|Jeffrey Hansen||The transition from college to the WashU MSTP...|
The transition from college to the WashU MSTP meant eight more years of learning cool facts with like-minded people, albeit the facts were cooler and the people were even more like-minded. While my college classmates dreaded the transition into corporate America, I skipped gleefully towards more opportunities to learn and grow as a physician scientist. Upon beginning, my first realization was that the MSTP provided mentoring and support unlike what could be achieved with thousands of undergraduate students. The time spent, kindness showed, and support given by the MSTP office is unmatched by any mentoring experience I had in my undergraduate years. These efforts allow me to better focus on what knowledge I can acquire and generate each day. Second, I realized that the people around me were even more like-minded. I was now surrounded by equally inquisitive, science-focused, and compassionate classmates that quickly turned into strong friendships. It’s exciting to think about how these friendships will continue to grow. And finally, the MSTP immersed be more deeply in topics of education that task me with skills that I will use tomorrow, next month, and ten years into my career. The obvious practicality of each lecture or discussion smoothes and sweetens the acquisition of such knowledge. As my senior year at Notre Dame concluded, signing up for eight more years pursuing science as part of the supportive and brilliant team that is WashU will inevitably be one of the best transitions that I will make.
|Kayla Berry||My MD counterparts have been an integral piece of my experience in the MSTP...|While I undoubtedly have become very close to my MSTP classmates, I developed very close and deep ties with my MD counterparts that have lasted even beyond their graduation. I spent many hours and late nights studying with them, collaborating with them to lead student groups and service projects, exploring the St. Louis area and having potlucks with them, and celebrating together after exam weeks. In that time, I found my medical school counterparts to be very intelligent, inquisitive, passionate, driven, and, most importantly to me, caring. In the long and challenging path to becoming a physician-scientist, it was paramount that I be able to develop bonds with classmates who were not only high achieving but also supportive.
While my MD classmates were focused on their clinical education, many of them were also interested in research as well. As I moved on to graduate school, they never failed to ask me about my own thesis project whenever we crossed paths. As they became senior medical students, they also gave me advice for my transition back to clinic and about the match process, which will be important as I approach those milestones. My MD counterparts have been an integral piece of my experience in the MSTP, and I am very grateful that I had the opportunity to connect with such inspiring individuals.
|Kevin Tamadonfar||My MSTP cohort has given me exposure to many areas of research...|
I have truly enjoyed getting to know my classmates on both a personal and professional level. What is unique about an MSTP is the collection of trainees in a wide range of areas, and having a large MSTP community, like WashU, brings that range into focus. Through our weekly class journal clubs, my MSTP cohort has given me exposure to many areas of research and a variety of techniques and approaches, from the social sciences to ion channel electrophysiology with many steps in between. In the process, the overlap and connections between fields of study become more tangible. Our discussions take us from the basic science bench-top research to the clinical exam room and to public health. These discussions define the role that physician-scientists play as the bridge between the lab and the clinic. Outside of my class, the WashU MSTP community as a whole is a supportive environment that provides role models and mentors in both science and medicine. More senior trainees have always been generous in providing advice and support on how to be successful in the program.
|Roger Klein||As I near the completion of graduate training...|Like many MSTP trainees, I was motivated to become a physician-scientist to test scientific hypotheses with direct implications on the improvement of patient care. As I near the completion of graduate training, I am confident that the opportunity to pursue critical clinical questions as part of an interdisciplinary team of scientists and clinicians at Wash U has given me the skills to conduct meaningful and translatable scientific research. These experiences have given me a greater appreciation for the value of a collaboration on both an individual and institutional level.
As I progress through my clinical clerkships and residency, I am excited to work with clinical teams composed of professionals from a variety of disciplines and academic backgrounds. I look forward to continue learning from both colleagues and patients so I can better deliver quality, compassionate care and serve as a more effective mentor for future trainees. By instilling a commitment to effective communication and lifelong learning, Wash U makes keeping abreast of the constantly-evolving field of biomedical science an exciting prospect.
As I move beyond my formal training and begin to build a clinical practice and research program of my own, I look forward to seeking out and developing a network of collaborators that can tackle important questions as efficiently as possible. Both clinical and scientific hypotheses are best approached in an analytical, hypothesis-driven manner, and I hope to continue broadening my perspectives and acquiring new skills as my career develops.
|Samantha Hsieh||WashU MSTP's large class size is one of the main reasons I chose to attend WashU...|
The WashU MSTP’s large class size is one of the main reasons I chose to attend WashU. Each incoming class consists of about 25 students, so MSTPs make up a substantial portion of the medical and graduate student classes. As such, MSTPs have a strong voice and our interests are well-represented. With over 200 current MSTP students and an extensive alumni network, there are plenty of mentoring opportunities available. The large MSTP also reflects WashU’s institutional dedication to physician-scientist training. WashU is committed to cultivating physician-scientists at all stages of training and also has one of the oldest PSTP programs in the country. Surrounded by this vibrant community of physician-scientists, WashU provides the ideal learning environment for MSTPs to develop into exemplary physician-scientists.