The MSTP provides multiple opportunities for advice from students and faculty. Trainees interact with other students, MSTP faculty advisors, the MSTP Director and Associate Directors, and the MSTP advisory committee. Venues where the majority of advising takes place are social hours, semi-monthly evening seminars, and annual retreats. This plethora of sources for advice enables individualized assistance for each trainee in planning the course of study.
Sib Trees - A Unique Peer Advising Program
Some of the most valuable advisory resources are older trainees, who have completed coursework, selected a lab, published a thesis, and returned to clinical training. Peer advising is aided by assignment of a "big sibling" from the preceding class who is matched to each incoming student. “Sib Trees”, that include students from all years in the MSTP, provide advice, support and on-going mentoring through Sib Tree dinners and other interactions.
Career & Research Mentoring
Discussion of career paths and research takes place at evening seminars, open only to program trainees. MSTP trainees and faculty members share dinner and discuss research opportunities and career choices. In the second hour of the seminar, the faculty member gives a research presentation. MSTP seminars also serve as practice sessions for trainees soon defending their theses. There are many UCSD faculty with MD and PhD degrees available for mentoring.
New Student Retreat
There is an annual MSTP retreat held in August to assimilate incoming trainees into the Program and their Sib Trees. The retreat's agenda consists of scientific and career presentations and discussions about program issues. However, the main focus is to promote bonding between trainees in different phases of the program.
The Program Director, Dr. Paul Insel, and Co-Associate Directors, Dr. Chris Glass, Dr. Lori Wan and Dr. Neil Chi, are easily accessible to trainees. They hold annual luncheons with each class, providing an opportunity to discuss Program issues. The Program administrator, Mary Alice Kiisel , is always available to answer questions or “lend an ear”.