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The 2013-2014 Courses and Programs Handbook has been Updated!

Survival Guide for Incoming UNMC Graduate Students

This guide was created to aid incoming UNMC graduate students. Contributors to this guide are graduate students and members of the Graduate Student Association. These members encompass students from different departments, different stages in the graduate student curriculum, and status as international or national students.

1. Housing

A variety of on-campus and off-campus housing options are available. For students with families as well as single graduate students, student housing is a popular choice. All rental units are located on the UNMC campus, within a short walking distance to all campus buildings. Properties consist of one, two, and three bedroom units. Prices run from $605 for a one bedroom and $800 for a two bedroom apartment. All rental agreements are made through the Business Services Department, Rental Property Management. The on-campus student apartments are located at the east end of the Student Life Center parking lot. Maintenance and campus security are available 24 hours a day. Leases are based on the academic year. Parking is provided. For additional information, contact Esther Collins at (402) 559-5201 or by Email. Students should also know that there often is a waiting list for UNMC housing therefore they should contact Esther Collins as early as possible if they are interested in living in the UNMC apartments.

While the official off-campus housing listing service offered by the University of Nebraska Medical center can be found athttp://www.unmcrealestatewithhonors.com/ , a listing of off-campus housing is available online from the Omaha World Herald (Omaha’s major newspaper).

The majority of students that choose to live off campus live near UNMC, while other find apartments in other areas of the city that may required a longer commute. There are a few apartment buildings between 38th and 36th Streets and between Farnam and Jones Streets that are reasonably priced and are located in a relatively safe part of the city so you can still walk to campus. Most students recommend not searching for apartments in the North, South, and especially East of these blocks. Apartments that fit your requirements and price range can be found throughout Omaha. There are many apartments and homes to rent between the UNMC campus and 72nd Street. Drive times are only about 10 minutes and the neighborhoods are nice. As you go further west into Omaha, the drive time increases limiting trips home between experiments. With the stipend that UNMC offers and the cost of living in Omaha, some graduate students are able to own their own houses.

Other websites that may be helpful during your housing search are:

Some things to keep in mind when you are searching for apartments:

  1. Most apartment complexes will require the security deposit and first-month’s rent at lease signing. The security deposit could range from $250 to an amount equivalent to one-month’s rent.
  2. If you are bringing a pet, a pet deposit will be required, which ranges from $150-$400. In addition, you will be asked to pay a monthly pet rent. Some complexes only allow cats, some only cats and small dogs.
  3. At the time of lease signing, you will also be asked to fill out an application for services from the Omaha Power Public District (OPPD) and the Metropolitan Utilities District (MUD). They provide electricity and gas/heat, respectively. If you do not have a payment record with either one of these companies you will be asked to pay a security deposit to have these services started. OPPD and MUD can ask for a deposit in the range of $50-$200. The exact amount is often determined by the average monthly premiums from the previous tenant.
  4. Most leases are one-year long. In some cases you will be able to sign six-month leases or go on a month-by-month basis. Of course, with shorter leases, they may incorporate other fees.

2. Stipends/Funding

The stipend at the University of Nebraska Medical Center ranges depending on the department ($21,500 to $24,000 per year). This is consistent with, or exceeds, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) stipend level for graduate students. You will be paid at the end of each month. Direct deposit is available. Pay stubs and accounting information can be accessed through Firefly. Completion of a W2 form will determine how much is kept for taxes and how much you will keep. During the first year you will be funded either through your department or through the Biomedical Research Training Program (BRTP). Some may receive a fellowship from the UNMC Graduate Studies Office. Once you choose a lab, it is the responsibility of that advisor to pay you at least the standard stipend per year unless you have a fellowship that covers your stipend. It is in your best interest to apply for intramural and extramural funding.

Intramural and extramural fellowships or assistantships are available for students. The largest intramural funding program at UNMC is the Graduate Studies Assistantship/ Fellowship program which pays the standard stipend. Application material containing details of the competition are mailed out to students approximately two to three months before the application deadline for this annual competition, February 15th. Applications should be submitted prior to the deadline through the Graduate Studies Blackboard site. Over the past few years, this program has become incredibly competitive in terms of the number of graduate students at UNMC that apply. Students that have selected a lab and completed at least 3 semesters of course work are encouraged to apply for the intramural funding. First year students are ineligible. Preliminary data is important for the successful funding of a fellowship.

There are also a number of extramural funding agencies where you can apply. For example, if your lab works on diabetes or research associated with diabetes, you can apply to the American Diabetes Association for a graduate student grant. Others offering fellowships and assistantships to graduate students include the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation (NSF), Howard Hughes Institute, Department of Defense, American Heart Association, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and many others. Applications deadlines vary throughout the year. If you are a recipient of extramural funding, Graduate Studies will add 20% of their award amount to the award from the extramural funding agency. A list of external agencies has been compiled and can be found on the Funding Resources page.

Discuss possible extramural funding sources with your advisor. Both you are your advisor should be committed to the extramural funding application. Often a student’s environment, program of study, resources, and advisor’s record are taken into consideration. Fellowship applications normally ask for transcripts so this is one instance where grades do matter.

3. Rotations and Selecting an Advisor

Selecting Rotations

The most important decision a graduate student will make in the first year of study at UNMC is the selection of a research advisor. Your research advisor is responsible for overseeing the student’s research, providing guidance and making recommendations toward the development of the student’s scientific career. A strongstudent-advisor relationship is essential for the student’s success in graduate school. There are intangibles the student must also consider in choosing a laboratory. One is personal interactions with potential colleagues, such as other graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and lab technicians. The other is research interests.

You should consider the following when choosing an advisor:

  • Does the research in the lab interest you?
  • Does he/she have sufficient funding?
  • Would you like to work in a small lab or a large lab?
  • Do you want an advisor that is more hands on or one that encourages more independent work? (This will typically correlate directly with the size of the lab)
  • How are the personal interactions with potential colleagues, such as other graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and lab technicians?

Laboratory rotations provide the student with the opportunity to explore different research projects and to interact with laboratory personnel and the potential research advisor. Each department or program at UNMC has different requirements in terms of number of rotations and the length of time for each rotation. In general, the student will complete three to four rotations, each lasting between four to eight weeks.

The best way to choose a rotation is to explore your research interests. It is suggested that you view the faculty roster for your program before arriving on campus. Meeting with different faculty members from your department or program gives you the opportunity to evaluate the personality of the faculty member, and if it fits your learning style. Also, this allows you to determine if the faculty member has available space for you to rotate in his/her laboratory, and if the laboratory has the necessary funding to sustain your research project and stipend during your graduate education. After meeting with the faculty member that interests you, talk with students currently working in that laboratory and in your department. This will provide you with the chance to ask questions regarding the laboratory environment, the expectations of the research advisor, laboratory funding, and ongoing research projects in the laboratory. Another useful indicator is the number, frequency and type of publications from the lab. Typically, an active lab should have frequent and recent publications especially from the students of the lab. This not only gives you a fairly good idea about the type of research going on in the lab, but also ensures that you select an advisor who is deeply involved in the student’s progress as a doctoral student.

New students are not required to choose all three rotations before arriving at UNMC. Delaying arrangements for subsequent rotations, until you become familiar with your department or program and its faculty is suggested.

Selection of Supervisory Committee

Once a laboratory has been chosen, you will need to identify your dissertation research. Once this has been accomplished, and according to department or program guidelines, you will be required to form a Supervisory Committee. This committee will be responsible for overseeing your research progress, evaluating your comprehensive examination, and evaluating your dissertation. Supervisory committees consist of three to five faculty members, not including your research advisor.

Supervisory committees are formed before or during your second year of study. When selecting faculty members to encompass this committee, there should be close consultation with your research advisor. Students often ask faculty members that are familiar with the topic of the research project, and faculty that the student has had the opportunity to interact with by either rotating in their laboratory or by interaction in the classroom. Students meet with potential committee members, explain their research project, and briefly state the goals of the project. When you have a list of three to four faculty members, not including your research advisor, fill out the Appointment of Supervisory Committee form. Once the Graduate Committee of your program signs the form, turn it in to the Graduate Studies office for official appointment of your committee. Usually students schedule two meetings per year with their Supervisory Committee. During meetings, students present updates on their research project, coursework, presentations, and other lab-related activities.

4. Registration

Registration is now handled online through Peoplesoft. Links to and directions for Peoplesoft are found on the UNMC Graduate Studies website as well as the GSA resources page. Students use their Lotus Notes or Firefly username and password to login. A permission code maybe required to register for a course, in which case the course director should be contacted. Make sure to go all the way through the registration process and check your class schedule.

Graduate students that have not selected a laboratory should register for Research Other Than Thesis (896), and register for at least 9 credits of coursework to be considered full-time students. Once you select a laboratory and research advisor, register for Doctoral Dissertation (999) and still register for at least 9 credits to be considered a full-time student. The number of credit hours for the Research Other Than Thesis (896) or Doctoral Dissertation (999) can be greater than 1 to bring your total to 9. Many departments also require that students register for a seminar /journal club course. After completion of your comprehensive exam, you may register for only one credit of Doctoral Dissertation (999) and be a full-time student by obtaining a full-time waiver form (candidacy form) that needs to be given to the Graduate Studies Office. This certifies that you are a full-time student at UNMC. If you have any questions regarding registration, contact the Graduate Studies Office.

Dates for registration are posted on the Graduate Studies website under “registration.” Generally, the day before classes begin is the last day to register; however, try to plan ahead so that courses can be approved by your advisor. The last day to add classes is normally three days after the semester begins and the last day to drop classes is about midway through the semester.

To ensure that courses will be paid for and your Supervisory Committee is satisfied with your coursework, be sure to fill out and update your “Program of Studies.” This form is found on the Graduate Studies website and should be turned into Graduate Studies upon completion (shortly after first committee meeting) or if changes are made.

5. Immunizations (Excerpt from the UNMC Student Handbook)

STUDENT MEDICAL HISTORY/VACCINATIONS POLICY

Students enrolled in academic programs at the Medical Center must provide a medical history and evidence of certain vaccinations or immunities. All medical history forms shall be filed in the Student Health Administrative Offices. Students shall be expected to provide physician certification of the following:

  1. A previous vaccination for rubella or evidence of an immune titer.
  2. Tetanus inoculation within the last ten years.
  3. Rubeola (measles) - All students must have a second immunization (in compliance with March, 1990 National Communicable Disease Control Center recommendation) unless born prior to 1957.
  4. Vaccinations for mumps and polio or documentation on the medical history form that the student had the disease previously.
  5. Varicella (chicken pox) — documentation required of year of disease, date of immune titer or immunization.

PROCEDURE

Medical History Forms are sent to all incoming UNMC students. Forms must be completed, signed and immunizations verified by a health care professional prior to enrollment. Students will not be allowed to enroll unless documentation has been provided for their immunizations required. All forms will be kept in the Student Health Administrative Office for a period of 10 years.

You will also have to arrange to have a Tuberculosis (TB) test done or prove that you have had one in the last year. If applicable, you will have to be vaccinated for Hepatitis B.

Student Health

Student Health is located in the Family Medicine Clinic on the 3rd floor of the Durham Outpatient Care Center. This is in the hospital near the escalators on 3rd floor.

Student are required to set an appointment prior to visiting Student Health
Monday-Friday 8:00-8:45 a.m., 11:45 a.m.-12:45 p.m., and 3:00-3:45 p.m.

Appointments, other than those for annual check-ups, can potentially be scheduled for the same day. It is advised to call the office as early as 7:30 am to secure a time.

To schedule an appointment, call 559-7200. The clinic hours are:
Monday-Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. A valid student ID is always required. Questions about billing should be directed to Tere Batt, Student Health Program Assistant at 559-5158.In addition, students are covered for a free eye exam annually. For a referral contact Tere Batt at 559-5158. After you obtain your referral call to set up an appointment with the UNMC Optometrists at 559-2020. Any appointments with a specialist outside Student/Family Health, requires a referral. In event of a visit to the UNMC emergency room, contact Tere Batt within 24hrs of your release to notify student health of your visit. For more information visit student health.

6. Parking

A parking permit is required for students to park on the UNMC campus. The permit is $120 per year, and is renewed every August. Students are allowed to park in the following lots: 9, 15S, 19, 20, 21, 39, 49, 51, 52, 54, and 17. After 5:00 p.m. on weekdays, on weekends, or on holidays, students with a valid permit on their car can park anywhere on campus except in the visitor parking lots. If the designated student lots are full, park in an employee lot and call parking enforcement (number below) to let them know you are in an unassigned lot so that you are not given a parking ticket.

Park only within marked stalls- not along unmarked curbs or on grass. If you park in a lot other than what has been designated for the permit without notification to parking enforcement, you could get a fine up to $25 per offense. If you park in the visitor parking or employee garages, the fines increase to $100 per offense. For unpaid tickets, UNMC reserves the right to withhold your permanent record, grade reports, and registration or deduct the fine from your paycheck. If you accumulate three un-cleared citations, a boot may be placed on your car. Parking tickets may be appealed within two weeks of citation. If a ticket is not paid or appealed within two weeks of citation, the fine doubles. To pay a parking fine or appeal a ticket, use the self service website or turn in paper copies to the Parking Services office.

Permits are usually sold during the organizational fair of orientation week. To buy permits online, go to the self service website listed above. Parking permits can also be obtained from UNMC Parking Services, which is located in the Student Life Center, room 2002. Hours are Monday-Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The phone number of Parking Services is 559-8580 and Email.

7. Wheel Tax

For students that are not Nebraska residents, there is a wheel tax of $35.00 per year for Omaha residents, or individuals that drive extensively in the city limits of Omaha. A certified course schedule and registration for the out of state vehicle are required to obtain the wheel tax sticker. The fines can be up to $300.00 for failure to pay the wheel tax.

The following are DMV locations that offer examinations for Driver’s Licenses and where you can renew your tags annually:

  • 411 N 84th St (between Dodge and Cass)
  • 4107 S 24th St
  • 7414 N 30th St
  • 5730 S 144th St
  • 2918 N 108th St.

8. UNMC Student Identification Card*

  • All students are required to have a photo student ID.
  • Complete the Student ID Data Form included in the admission packet mailed to you by UNMC.
  • Take the completed form, along with a photo ID (driver’s license/passport) to Room #1027 Student Life Center on UNMC campus. The office is typically open Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m.– 4:30 p.m., but it is suggested you call to confirm an appointment time (559-2917).
  • The student ID (called the UneCard) is essential for most services such as library, computer services, and printing. Cash can be credited to the card and can be used to make purchases at the bookstore, library etc. Monetary use is restricted to UNMC campus only.

* Excerpt obtained from the Masters of Public Health Webpage

9. Helpful links:

Contributors

  • UNMC alumni from the College of Graduate Studies

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