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About Shira G, Ziegler

Shira G, Ziegler graduated from The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine MD-PhD program in 2018. Her graduate research elucidated the mechanisms underlying rare disorders of ectopic calcification and identified potential treatment strategies. She is currently pursuing dual residency training in pediatrics and medical genetics at The Johns Hopkins Hospital and plans to combine her bench-to-bedside research on rare genetic conditions with clinical care. Prior to medical school, Shira graduated from Oberlin College with highest honors in neuroscience and worked in the National Institutes of Health’s Undiagnosed Diseases Program and Human Genome Research Institute.


Many MD-PhD students are concerned about the transition back to medical school after their graduate studies. It is a justifiable concern. You have just spent the last 3–6 years becoming an expert in your field of research, and now you have to return to medical school, with medical students who were likely in high school when you started your medical training and, residents and fellows who were previously your peers. In addition, while you have spent the past number of years honing your technical and analytical skills, you have understandably forgotten some of the underlying pathology and pathophysiology, in addition to clinical skills, learned during the first 2 years of medical school. Chapter 14 of this book presented tips on maintaining your clinical skills and knowledge in graduate school. However, most MD-PhD students take Step 1 of the United States Medical Licensing Exam (Chapter 21, USMLE) before pursuing graduate training and do not have another opportunity for a systematic review of the preclinical material before embarking on their clinical clerkships. While this transition is challenging, planning and organization can help ease reintegration into the medical school curriculum.


  • Register for re-matriculation early.

  • Aim to reenter the medical school curriculum in the summer or early fall of the equivalent to the third year of medical studies.

  • If time permits, participate in a clerkship or shadowing in the year prior to re-matriculation.

  • Get recertified/re-credentialed where it is required several months before your return.

  • Rediscover old skills, resources, and equipment, and discover new ones in the month before your return to medical school.

Choosing Your Re-matriculation Date

At least 1 year before you anticipate going back to the wards, it is crucial that you talk to your institution’s registrar. For most institutions, there are only certain times when MD-PhD students can reenter the curriculum. The institution’s annual master academic schedule is usually determined 1–2 years in advance, so the potential reentry points should be clear. For maximum efficiency, MD-PhDs should try to reenter the medical school curriculum in the summer or early fall of the equivalent to their third year of medical studies. The earlier you register, the more likely you will get your preferred core clerkship and elective schedule (refer ...

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