Exploring Areas of Interest

The MD with Distinction program offers students the opportunity to explore an area of personal interest in a scholarly manner. Students are guided by the expertise of a mentor in the track of their choice to develop knowledge and skillfulness. Graduating “with Distinction” adds to your portfolio when applying for residency and other professional positions.

Students can follow one of five tracks to earn an MD with Distinction degree. As a main component of the program, students take an investigative approach and develop a project that addresses a problem in the medical arena.

Each track consist of a curriculum that includes a longitudinal study with mentored guidance, beginning with a written proposal and supervised by a Thesis Advisory Committee that is unique for each student. The project consists of several weeks of field, clinical, analytical or laboratory work, and includes a presentation of outcomes at Medical Student Investigation Day (or a similar venue). Projects culminate with an oral presentation open to the academic community and defense of a thesis or other document before the Thesis Advisory Committee. Students can complete all components of the distinction tracks with the four years allotted for medical school, and with no extra tuition or cost.

The MD with Distinction in Research track is designed to allow students to participate in a curriculum that is enriched with training in research and scholarly activities.

Students in our combined degree programs have already fulfilled some of the prerequisites for the MD with Distinction in Research. In the first year, all students participate in a series called Common Questions about Research. The students continue with full-time research for 6 weeks between first and second year. Summer research may be supported through a stipend.

Students are required to present at our Medical Student Investigation day each fall, and will present a seminar and write and defend a thesis to complete the distinction.

For more information, contact:

Dr. Mandeep S. Sidhu, Assistant Dean of Student Research and Scholarship: [email protected]
Dr. Thomas Andersen, Director of the MD with Distinction in Research for Basic Science: [email protected]

The MD with Distinction in Community Service is designed for students who show a significant commitment to community service during their years at Albany Medical College. It encourages development of an advanced skill set in service and leadership.

Through this track, students engage in service delivery, leadership experiences, and community collaboration, with the capstone requirement being the design and implementation of a sustainable service project in collaboration with a community partner. The thesis level work is done with the mentorship and support of a thesis advisory committee with expertise in elements of the service project.

For more information, contact:

Dr. Katherine Wagner, Director of the MD of Distinction Community Service Track: [email protected] 

The MD with Distinction in Health Systems Analysis track is designed for students who are committed to designing, implementing, and communicating a study of a health care management or policy issue that has systems implications.

Students interested in pursuing this track work with a mentor to help them analyze and study a particular issue or topic in health systems analysis, then submit a proposal. Field work is done mainly during the six weeks in the summer between first and second year, although work prior to and after is typical to complete the investigative efforts to study the issue. Students  present their findings as an abstract and poster at Medical Student Investigation day. A Thesis Advisory Committee guides the student as they prepare, write, and defend a mini-thesis, usually before the start of fourth year or during a Senior Research Elective in fourth year.

For more information, contact:

Dr. James Bennett, Director of MD with Distinction in Health Systems Analysis track: [email protected]
Dr. Mandeep S. Sidhu, Assistant Dean of Student Research and Scholarship: [email protected]

The MD with Distinction in Bioethics track is designed for students who seek to develop scholarly research skills in bioethics, and position themselves as leaders in bioethics during their professional careers.

Participants in this track during Year 1 become part of the Alden March Bioethics Institute faculty community, attending monthly conferences, developing knowledge in many areas of bioethics, and working one-on-one with a faculty mentor on their own bioethics research project. Upon completion of the first phase of the project at the beginning of Year 2, students translate their work into a poster presentation for Medical Student Investigation Day. Students continue revisions on their projects by preparing a proposal to a professional conference and a manuscript submission to a professional journal, culminating in a 4-week Scholars in Bioethics rotation during the 4th year.

For more information, contact:

Dr. Wayne Shelton, Director of the MD with Distinction in Bioethics: [email protected]

This track is for students who are committed to the improvement of the health care system or improving the non-biological determinants of health through advocacy.

In order to be successful, a student must identify and address a social, environmental, or policy issue that serves as a barrier to the health of a defined population at the  regional, national, or international level. With mentored guidance, the students will investigate an approach to the problem, carry out field work to demonstrate advocacy and write a thesis outlining the project and the rationale for the advocacy actions that are necessary.

For more information, contact:

Dr. Angela Antonikowski, Associate Dean, Division of Community Engagement and Medical Education: [email protected]
Dr. Andrew Coates, Hospitalist & Assistant Professor of Medicine and Psychiatry: [email protected]