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Which specialty is best suited to your interests, abilities, and personality?
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Discussion in 'Physician Scientists' started by zaq, 05.28.12.
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It sounds like you have a pretty well-rounded application. I don't see any significant deficiencies based on what you've written, and I think you have a decent chance of getting an interview at most of the schools you've listed (vagaries of the application process notwithstanding).
I'd suggest you work on narrowing down your list of schools to 20 at most, based off of which fit your interests (research and other) and where you'd like to live for the next 7-9 years. I'd throw a couple dream schools in there as well, just for S&G's.
WRT the "why MD" essay, the importance of that can vary from school to school--there's a whole spectrum of how much say the medical school has in MD/PhD admissions, from every candidate must be approved by the medical school before the MD/PhD program can make an offer, to there are a set number of seats set aside and the MD/PhD program can fill those with whoever they want.
So don't just blow off that essay. Since you've volunteered as an EMT during school, try to think of a patient that made an impression and talk about how that motivated you/affirmed your motivation to go into medicine.
I'd say you have a pretty good shot at ANY program in the country. I agree that 20 is sufficient, and feel free to include "top 10"... Your GPA is OK, MCAT and research are not- they are outstanding.
What kind of research do you want to do, vaguely? You could figure out which schools have or lack strength in your area of interest.
EG these schools from your list have good reputations in the following:
UCSF- HIV/virology, biochem, immunology
UCLA- stem cells, nanotech
Columbia- NEURO!!, genomics
UTSW- Biochem, lipid metabolism
... not meant to be comprehensive, just a general idea.
Do you want to stay in CA? Davis has an MD/PhD program (it's really small). USC/Caltech's MD/PhD program is also a lower-tier CA MD/PhD program. Was there a specific reason you chose MD only for those two schools?
I'd take out some of the lower tier schools you don't want to go to based on location alone, if there are any. Do you interview okay?
I was under the impression that if you pass initial screening and get an interview, your GPA is less important relatively speaking, compared to your ability to discuss your research. Maybe try to apply early to increase your likelihood of getting interviews at top schools with a (slightly) lower GPA...?
I am also interested in chemical biology so feel free to PM if you're interested in my experience with chem bio at specific schools.**I'm not an authority in this area, this is just my opinion based mostly on interviews, so ask around to get plenty of opinions from more qualified sources.
Yeah, affirmation is definitely OK--the medical school just likes to know you are more than purely research--their mission is to train physicians. And with an EMS background, you have stronger clinical background than most MD/PhD applicants. Just don't overemphasize that on your interviews--being too clinically-oriented can hurt you in MD/PhD admissions (personal experience here).
I'd say that's true to an extent, although IME numbers play a role at all stages of the admissions process. A 3.7/37 isn't going to hold the OP back anywhere though.
Where are you getting these numbers? 3.7 is fine. You have publications, more than 1 year research, and a good MCAT. As long as you are an interesting person who interviews well you may have multiple acceptances at these places. Don't omit top 10 just because you are scared for some reason. If you don't want to apply to Penn or WashU or whatever, fine, but they won't reject you based on your numbers.
Re: Caltech- isn't there a UCLA/Caltech MSTP program? There was when I interviewed there (in 1999).
Also, don;t worry about the length of the PhD. If you cannot imagine doing a PhD in 6 years- don't apply MSTP. a 10 year MD/PhD is not unheard of, and is as common as a 6 year degree.
Yeah, beginning of July should be fine.
Mathematically the OP is right in that most of the top 10 take 400+ secondaries and only extend about 60 interviews.
BUT, I think your approach is not necessarily the most strategic. Instead of looking at the averages and only applying to a few programs, you might consider applying to many top 10's. Some will screen you out, most likely due to GPA since the rest of your app is good. But if you apply to a few, you're more likely to get screened out across the board pre-interview than if you apply to many.
I think the consensus is that it's not a total waste of your time and money to apply to higher ranked schools (even if you don't get interviews at all of them) because you do have a more than fair stab at top 20 if not top 10.
** you're looking at top 5 programs and using their GPA averages to make assumptions across the board for the top 20 schools, by the way. the 8 programs that are top twenty schools you have in your list are quite realistic for you, I think...
I'm assuming you went to a UC in which case around a 3.89 is summa cum laude, and a 3.7 is still magna or regular cum laude- not too bad.
I thought this same thing about UCSF and John's Hopkins - but I asked a career counselor at my university and she said that average may not mean mean but may mean median. She didn't seem 100% sure though. In any event, I still think it's worth applying to top schools you'd want to attend (I have similar stats to you and I will be this cycle)
Could it be that those averages listed have some sort of weight to them (where it's possible to get more than a 4.0)? Otherwise, I just can't fathom how UCSF/Hopkins could have an AVERAGE matriculant GPA of 3.9. Unless every school has ridiculous grade inflation now.
When I applied (last century), the two schools with the highest GPA averages were WashU and Baylor... and it was like 3.75 or something.
I think schools leaned hard on the GPA/MCAT because of the "selectibilty" portion of the US News rankings....
Median makes a lot more sense than average, in which case it doesn't really mean much at all.
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