An MSA is a four-year scholarly project in a thematic area chosen by the student. Each student pairs with a mentor in order to pursue a scholarly project, making progress during each Phase of medical school, and eventually culminating in a written paper and Capstone presentation in the Spring of Phase IV. The MSA allows students to explore their interests, develop a plan to pursue a project, and be exposed to research methods and mentoring.
Each thematic area has a MSA Associate Director within the School of Medicine that meets with the students 1-2 times per year. The five thematic areas are: Basic Science; Clinical Science; Epidemiology, Public & Community Health; Humanities, Social Sciences & Education; and Global Health.
The MSA Associate Directors provide the organizational structure for pairing mentors and mentees. They also introduce the Phase I students to basic research methods, help them choose a thematic area, and track the students’ progress through their four years, awarding credit for adequate progress.
The MSA seeks to encourage creativity, innovation, and curiosity. It helps the student translate an idea into a scholarly project. It stimulates the learning of new methods of scholarship, in preparation for a life of self directed learning. In addition, it seeks to develop analytical thinking skills and expose students to effective mentoring.
Students will introduce themselves to several potential mentors in their areas of scholarly interest. Lists of potential mentors and their research interests are made available to the students through the Associate Directors. The student is instructed to meet with several potential mentors in order to decide if their interests and working styles align. Then, if both the student and mentor agree, a working relationship is formalized.
Mentors are expected to foster the scholarly interest of the student over the course of the four years of medical school. The mentor has expertise that will facilitate the student’s development through a one-to-one, mutual, and committed professional relationship. The relationship includes: task orientation, work progress, setting realistic goals and timelines, trust, mutual commitment, and structure. The mentor will critique and edit their mentees performance, including written work, challenge students, communicate effectively, and adjust their teaching to different learning styles and student needs.
Students must choose a thematic area and mentor by April of their first year (Phase I). Many students may wish to work on their project during the summer between Phases I and II. Therefore, the student will work during the Spring of Phase I on developing a specific hypothesis or question; reviewing and utilizing relevant literature; define their approach, methods, and scholarly plan; and possibly developing a detailed project proposal to be approved by their mentor and Associate Director. Other students will follow a different timeline with the above milestones accomplished by the end of Phase II. Students will continue to work on their project with their mentor during Phases III & IV and will present their results in a capstone celebration in the spring prior to graduation in Phase IV.
This will vary based on the student’s experience, the mentor’s comfort, and the extent of the project. Some projects may have multiple students working together, in which case, the mentor may be providing small group mentorship. In general, mentors and students should meet once per quarter although certain years, such as Phase I, will require more frequent meetings, while Phase III (the structured clinical year), may require less frequent meetings. In Phase IV, the mentor must review the student’s written paper and evaluate the student with the Associate Director. The student’s Capstone presentation in the Spring of Phase IV is the culmination of the relationship and mentors are strongly encouraged to attend.
Yes, once you are on our list, you will receive announcements about training opportunities and web based tools to improve mentoring skills. You may also wish to consider mentoring in partnership with a more seasoned mentor if you are new to the field. Educational opportunities: Academy of Medical Educator
We would love to welcome you to our ranks! Go to the following URL, fill out the form and submit to: https://app.smartsheet.com/b/form/b123e78c0b374b1893045329cd4f68dc. If you need more information, contact the Director or an Associate Director.