M.D. with Distinction in Health Policy

The M.D. with Distinction in Health Policy recognizes students who distinguish themselves by conducting meaningful activities in health policy during the course of their medical school training.

Individuals satisfying the program requirements will be recognized at graduation and on their diploma as receiving the degree of Doctor of Medicine, with Distinction in Health Policy.


1. Application

Students must submit a formal application to the program. They may do it at any point in their medical school career, but applications must be received and approved by January 31 of the year before the anticipated graduation date (for example, by January 31, 2014, for an expected 2015 graduation). This deadline is set to make sure all parties are able to review and approve the plan for distinction.

2. Sixteen Weeks of Activities in Health Policy Research or Implementation

Relevant activities may be performed beginning the summer before enrollment at UT Southwestern, or at any time during medical school training. Work done prior to formal application and acceptance into the program may be considered as meeting the criteria for completion.

However, students benefit from the experience of a committee-approved plan of action in structuring their program and are therefore encouraged to apply early.

Acceptable activities include those related to participation in a congressional health care fellowship or 16 weeks of electives in the Health Policy and Research areas. Other activities may fulfill the requirement but must be reviewed and approved in advance by the Associate Dean.

3. Written Thesis

As the project nears completion, a thesis will be submitted to the Health Policy Committee describing the objectives, hypothesis, methods, outcome, and implications of the research conducted or the project implemented.

All members of the thesis committee and the Associate Dean must sign the thesis by April 1 of the graduating year. Students should begin to circulate their thesis by February 1 to make sure committee members have time to give feedback.

A copy of the thesis will be archived within the library collection. The formal signed paperwork will be kept by the Associate Dean.

4. Thesis Presentation

A formal presentation of the program or results will be made to an audience that includes members of the student’s committee. This will show that the student is capable of not only designing the research but communicating its findings succinctly to colleagues. This presentation must be given before March 15 of the graduating semester to be included on the diploma.

Distinction Process

Here is a general timeline:

  • January 31 year before graduation: Complete an application for distinction.
  • August 15 year of graduation: Confirm that you are still seeking the distinction and meet with your mentor to confirm that you have planned all the requirements.
  • January 1: Have all courses completed or registered for to complete distinction requirements.
  • February 1: Send primary mentor thesis for approval and have presentation scheduled.  
  • March 1: Send all committee members the approved version of your thesis.
  • March 15: Deadline for completing the presentation.
  • April 1: Final copy of thesis signed and turned into the Student Affairs office for submission to the Library.

If a student disagrees with the decision of the committee or the Associate Dean for Medical Student Research, it is first the obligation of the student to make a good-faith effort to resolve the matter with the faculty members involved. Further appeals should be directed to the Associate Dean, and then to the Dean of the Medical School. The Dean’s determination is final.