Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

Combined Degree and
Physician Scholar Programs

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MD/Master of Science in Medical Ethics (MSME)

The MD/Master of Science in Medical Ethics (MD/MSME) program is designed to provide rigorous methodological and conceptual training in bioethics for medical students who aim to become academic bioethicists. Although there are many bioethics-related masters-level graduate programs in the United States, none of these programs is designed to train the physician-scientist or other scholars aspiring to bioethics faculty positions in academic medical centers and universities. There is a desperate need for a pipeline of outstanding junior faculty in the field of medical ethics. The Penn MSME is the only Masters program specifically designed for this purpose.

These guidelines offer prospective and current Perelman medical students specific information regarding components of the MD/MSME dual degree program. When students are accepted into the Master of Science in Medical Ethics program, they must take responsibility for following all regulations and policies of the Medical School and of the MSME Program.

Information Gathering

The first step of the process is to gather information regarding the MD/MSME dual degree. Interested students have several resources:

  • MSME Program — the Master of Science in Medical Ethics program website provides detailed information on the program and application process.
  • AJ Roholt — candidates are encouraged to contact AJ, MSME Coordinator, to discuss the Master of Science in Medical Ethics program.
  • Amy Nothelfer — students are encouraged to contact Amy, Associate Director of Combined Degree Office, to discuss their interest in a Master's program.
  • Perelman School of Medicine (PSOM) Office of Admissions and Financial Aid — As soon as a medical student is considering the pursuit of an integrated dual degree program, financial aid counseling and planning is strongly advised.

Additional Bioethics resources on Penn's campus:

Perelman medical students are eligible to take up to 3 elective courses in the Department of Medical Ethics & Health Policy before formally applying. Many students will take a bioethics course in their first year to test the waters, so to speak. Taking an elective course is an excellent way to learn about the course load, time commitment, and to help determine if the MSME is right for you. Please refer to the PSOM Additional Course Policy for information on tuition implications. Also, please note that all BIOE courses must be taken for a grade, not pass/fail.

Note: any course taken before applying to the MSME program will count towards the MSME upon acceptance.

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Advising

Once a student is accepted into the MD/MSME program, the student will meet with the Director of Education, Dr. Autumn Fiester, to develop a curriculum plan. Each student in the Master of Science in Medical Ethics program will be assigned a faculty adviser, who will guide student course selection and research. Additional student supervision will be given by members of the Department faculty, as well as other faculty at Penn working in various areas of bioethics.

After a curriculum plan is developed, the student must meet with Helene Weinberg in the Registrar’s Office of the Medical School to discuss the plan and seek approval from the Medical School.

Students are strongly encouraged to meet with a staff member in the PSOM Office of Admissions and Financial Aid to discuss financial issues.

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Curriculum & Program Structure

Perelman medical students who are matriculated in the MD/MSME program will be required to complete 14 course units for the MSME degree (2 of which may be transferred from the Medical School curriculum, upon approval). However, the timing of these course units may vary based on the student’s curriculum plan.

Program Requirements:

The following course units are required for the MSME degree :

  • BIOE 601:   Introduction to Clinical Bioethics
  • BIOE 602:   Conceptual Foundations in Bioethics
  • BIOE 565:   Rationing or 580: Research Ethics or 603: Clinical Ethics
  • BIOE 605:   Mentored Research I
  • BIOE 606:  Mentored Research II
  • Methods I: Data Collection Methods [HPR 603, or the equivalent]
  • Methods II: Data Analysis [HPR 607, or the equivalent]
  • Methods III: Introduction to Statistics [HPR 604, MTR 600, EPID 526, or the equivalent]
  • Methods IV: Applied Regression Analysis [HPR 608, or the equivalent]
  • 5 Electives (2 of which may be MD curriculum transfer credits)

Required Course Units:               14

Perelman medical students who are matriculated in the MD/MSME program will have the option to earn transfer credit for two courses in the MD curriculum, ‘Doctoring’ and ‘Bioethics and Professionalism,’ contingent on the completion of supplemental work.

  • To receive one MBE credit for 'Doctoring,' the following two courses must be completed: ‘Doctoring I’ and ‘Doctoring II,’ along with one supplemental 10-15 page research paper under the supervision of an approved faculty member. Please contact Dr. Lance Wahlert for more information.
  • To receive one MBE credit for ‘Bioethics and Professionalism’ (FRO 601), the student must write a 10-15 page research paper under the supervision of an approved faculty member and must also participate as a discussion leader (i.e. TA) in this course. Please contact Dr. Lance Wahlert for more information.

Please note that if a student has not made arrangements prior to the course for this work to be counted as transfer credit, he/she cannot apply to use this credit toward the MSME degree.

Timing:

Every bioethics course in the Master program is held in the late afternoon, from 4:30-6:30, once a week for 12-14 weeks. Coordinating the Master course offerings with the demands of the MD curriculum will require careful attention to the guidelines described below. With careful planning, it is possible to complete both the MD and the Masters in five years. To complete both degrees in five years, it will be necessary for the student to implement a schedule which takes into account the maximum number of courses which may be taken in a given semester.

MD/MSME Degree Completion Time:               5 Years (with careful planning)

Students must be proactive about researching any possible changes from the original schedule approved by the Medical School and the Master of Science in Medical Ethics program. Some seemingly simple changes in course selection and timing may have the unintended consequence of adding additional semesters and increasing tuition. Be sure to consult with the Medical School and the Master program directors before making adjustments to your schedule.

MD/MSME Sample Study Plans:

The following are possible scheduling scenarios that an MD/MSME student might follow. They are based on the assumption that students will complete the requirements for two transfer credits.

Sample 1: Begin MD/MSME Fall of First Year

Year Fall Spring Summer Tuition and Billing Maximum Direct Loan Eligibility (2017-18)
1 1 MSME cu
MD curriculum
1 MSME cu
MD curriculum
  MD Tuition Fall & Spring (and MSME tuition for courses) $44,942
2 1 MSME cu
MD curriculum
MD curriculum MD curriculum MD Tuition Fall & Spring (and MSME tuition for course) $47,167
3 MD curriculum Boards 1
MD curriculum
MD curriculum MD Tuition Fall & Spring $47,167
4 3 MSME cus 3 MSME cus   MSME Tuition Fall & Spring $20,500
5 Residency interviewing
3 MSME cus
Residency interviewing
MD curriculum
  MSME Tuition Fall; MD Tuition Spring Fall $10,250;
Spring $20,250

Sample 2: Begin MD/MSME Fall of Third Year

Year Fall Spring Summer Tuition and Billing Maximum Direct loan Eligibility (2015-16)
1 MD curriculum MD curriculum   MD Tuition Fall & Spring $44,942
2 MD curriculum MD curriculum MD curriculum MD Tuition Fall & Spring $47,167
3 MD curriculum Boards 1
MD curriculum
MD curriculum MD Tuition Fall & Spring $47,167
4 4 MSME cus 3 MSME cus   MSME Tuition Fall & Spring $20,500
5 Residency interviewing
3 MSME cus
Residency interviewing
2 MSME cus
MD curriculum
  MSME Tuition Fall; MD Tuition Spring Fall $10,250;
Spring $20,250
Medical School Planning:

There are several things to keep in mind when making your Medical School plans:

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Financial Information

Tuition Policy:

The PSOM tuition policy for the MD/MSME program seeks to minimize the additional financial burden for students enrolling in the program. The Medical School will cover the cost of 3 MSME required course units (in a fall or spring semester) as long as the student has not taken any other university registered credits. Students who also take advantage of the 2 units of transfer credit from the Medical School curriculum will therefore only need to pay for 9 of the 14 course units required for the degree.

Perelman medical students will be charged additional tuition for:

9 MSME graduate school course units

IF 2 credits have been earned via ‘Doctoring’ and ’Bioethics and Professionalism,’

AND

IF the PSOM is paying for 3 course units (which would happen as long as the student has not taken any other university registered credits).

Tuition:               $5722/course. This includes a general University fee and the technical fee. (2016-2017)

Financial Aid:

As soon as a Perelman medical student is considering the pursuit of an integrated dual degree program, financial aid counseling and planning is strongly advised. Students should contact Jean Fox at the PSOM Office of Admissions and Financial Aid. She is available to help explain program costs, the financial aid process, funding options and how to apply for financial aid. Here are some things to consider:

  1. When paying medical school tuition and registered as a medical student, an individual can retain his/her PSOM Scholarship and has a Direct loan eligibility of $40,500. When a student is registered as a full time MSME student, he/she is not eligible for PSOM Scholarship and has a Direct loan eligibility of $20,500. In accordance with federal regulations, all sources of aid (loan, scholarships, fellowships,) cannot exceed the student budget.
  1. Direct loans have aggregate limits, which are cumulative and include any undergraduate, graduate, and medical school loans borrowed in the Direct loan program. For any semester when a student is a full-time MSME student (versus full-time MD student), the MSME program aggregate limit is $138,500 versus the MD aggregate limit ($224,000).
  1. Students who require funds in excess of their Direct loan may apply for a Direct PLUS loan. Details on this loan and instructions for applying can be found at the PSOM Office of Admissions and Financial Aid.
Bellet Scholarship:

The Samuel Bellet Scholarship Fund honors the memory of Dr. Samuel Bellet and celebrates his pioneering work in cardiovascular research and medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. The purpose of the Fund is to award scholarships to candidates for the Medical Doctor (MD) degree at Penn who are pursuing the Master of Science in Medical Ethics (MSME) degree concurrently. The goal of the Bellet Scholarship Fund is to train committed, compassionate and humane physicians, thereby enhancing the quality of health care delivered in this country.

In 2016-2017, the MSME program will be offering several Bellet Scholarships. The scholarship pays for one MSME course. The application can be found on the MSME website.

Bellet application deadline:               Rolling Basis

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Admissions

Admission to the MD/Master of Science in Medical Ethics program is competitive, and the strongest applicants will have outstanding academic records, interest in the humanities in medicine/bioethics, and a demonstrated passion for the subject matter.

Admissions process:
There are two steps to applying:

  1. Apply to the Master of Science in Medical Ethics Program
    MSME information and the application can be obtained at the MSME Program. Students are encouraged to contact AJ Roholt, MSME Coordinator, for more information. Please note: in 2016-2017, the MSME program has waived the application fee for Perelman medical students.
  1. Submit Master's Program Registration Form to the Combined Degree Office
    In addition to submitting an MSME application, Perelman medical students must also submit a Master's Program Registration Form to Amy Nothelfer, Associate Director of the Combined Degree and Physician Scholar Programs Office (6th Floor JMEC). The MSME program will not consider any medical student's application unless it has certified that the student has submitted the form to the Combined Degree Office.

Application Deadline:               Rolling basis
The Master of Science in Medical Ethics program considers applications on a rolling basis.

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Contacts

For more information regarding the MD/MSME program, contact:

MSME Program:

AJ Roholt
MSME Coordinator
Department of Medical Ethics & Health Policy
Blockley Hall, 14th Floor
423 Guardian Drive
Philadelphia, PA 19104-4884
215-898-3837
arroholt@mail.med.upenn.edu

Autumn Fiester, PhD
Director of Education
Department of Medical Ethics & Health Policy
Blockley Hall, 14th Floor
423 Guardian Drive
Philadelphia, PA 19104-4884
215-573-2602
fiester@mail.med.upenn.edu

Perelman School of Medicine:

Amy Nothelfer, MSW, LSW
Associate Director
Combined Degree and Physician Scholar Programs Office
Jordan Medical Education Ctr, 6th Floor
3400 Civic Center Blvd, BLDG 421
Philadelphia, PA 19104-5162
215-746-2359
nothelfe@mail.med.upenn.edu

Helene Weinberg
Registrar
Office of the Registrar
Jordan Medical Education Ctr, 6th Floor
3400 Civic Center Blvd, BLDG 421
Philadelphia, PA 19104-5162
215-898-4646
hweinber@mail.med.upenn.edu

Jean Fox
Financial Aid Officer
Office of Admissions and Financial Aid
Jordan Medical Education Ctr, 6th Floor
3400 Civic Center Blvd, BLDG 421
Philadelphia, PA 19104-5162
215-898-9118
jmfox@mail.med.upenn.edu

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Disclaimer
Please note that policies concerning admissions, curriculum, funding and financial aid are subject to change. Additionally, though variations in the curriculum may be possible, any changes will need prior approval and may have financial implications. This website is meant to provide preliminary general overview information only. Students interested in or enrolled in the program should seek personal advising from relevant faculty and staff.