Xavier Magazine

Dr. Double Duty

It takes intellectual guts to go after your PhD. To get your MD, it takes a lot of spunk. To go after both is, well, crazy.

But for 2014 graduate and Fr. Finn Award recipient Michael Petrany, it made all the sense in the world. Especially when he learned he was being awarded a fellowship that covers the entire cost of both his PhD and MD programs and gives him enough money to live on for the duration. It’s called the Whitsett Fellowship, and he’s its first recipient.

The fellowship is named after Jeffrey Whitsett, a physician and professor at the University of Cincinnati and a world leader in pediatric research. Its goal is to develop and promote physician scientists to be leaders in both research and hospital settings.

The fellowship supports students for the entire time they are working on their dual degrees in the Medical Scientist Training Program. Petrany, from Huntington, W.Va., began his journey at the University of Cincinnati Medical School at the end of August with the aid of the fellowship. He was inspired to apply after working for two years in a lab with researchers and doctors at Children’s Hospital Medical Center. “I always loved science and I had a real passion for scientific investigation and learning new things,” Petrany says. “But I always wanted to find a way to ground that in service for others.”

The path to a PhD and an MD is long—seven to eight years. There’s two years of traditional medical school, then three to four years of PhD research. The program ends with two years of medical residencies and clinical rotations.

“It’s a challenge,” Petrany says. “You’re learning the language of science and clinical medicine. And you’re responsible ultimately to help bridge the gap between those two things.”

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