This collaborative initiative with input from two faculties, Medicine and Science, aims to meet the country’s emerging needs to educate future leaders in the areas of health care and academia.
The increasing pressure from societies around the globe to deliver better health care options is fueled by a rapidly expanding pool of knowledge in the fields of clinical medicine, basic sciences and biotechnology. There is a growing demand in Canadian society for well-prepared leaders in the health care profession and in its many allied sectors, who not only have learned the traditional craft of medicine, but who are also skilled in the pursuit of scientific discovery and knowledge translation. With the MD/PhD Program in Ottawa, we seek to actively participate in the education of future leaders of Canada’s health care and business communities.
The MD/PhD Program at the University of Ottawa seeks to attract and foster the small cadre of individuals that are described by the Canadian author Malcolm Gladwell as “Outliers’”[*]. Outliers can be found in many incoming medical and graduate school classes around the world; they represent the small number of talented students who are able to perform above the ordinary because of a unique constellation of circumstances, which include among others: an innate and well nurtured talent to process information from multiple domains; an early interest in and exposure to scientific exploration; a learned commitment or natural dedication to hard work; and emotional maturity to communicate well with others. These attributes are essential to turn creativity into meritorious performance.
[*] “Outliers, The Story of Success” by Malcolm Gladwell. 2008. Publisher Allan Lane.
Description of the combined program
The MD/PhD Program, combines the existing MD undergraduate curriculum with approved graduate programs to obtain a PhD in Biochemistry, or in Cellular and Molecular Medicine, or in Microbiology and Immunology, or in Human and Molecular Genetics, or in Neuroscience (all from the Faculty of Medicine), or in Biology from the Faculty of Science in such a way to reduce the length of time that is required to complete two programs sequentially, i.e., from a total of usually more than eight years to seven.
Operationally and administratively, the MD/PhD Program resides within the Faculty of Medicine. The program is governed by the regulations of the Faculty of Medicine for the MD, of the participating PhD programs, and of Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (FGPS). These regulations are outlined in the calendar of each Faculty.
Parameters and guiding principles of the new combined program
The following parameters and principles have guided the creation of the new combined program:
- The new program will combine existing, already approved programs at the University of Ottawa in such a way that it will reduce the length of time that is heretofore required to complete two programs sequentially, i.e., from a total of usually more than eight years to seven or possibly less.
- Years 1 and 2 (Preclerkship) of medical school and the three years of graduate school are thematically grouped together since they represent the preclinical and research portions of the MD/PhD program. The clerkship part of medical school is predominantly oriented toward the practical education of young physician apprentices who, upon graduation, go into residency training programs upon graduation. This is the main reason why the Clinical Rotations aspect of the program is scheduled at the tail end of most MD/PhD programs across North America.