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Underrepresented Minority MD/PhD students

Discussion in 'Physician Scientists' started by honeygrits, 03.19.05.

  1. honeygrits

    honeygrits Junior Member

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    Hello,

    Although I am still finishing up my undergrad, I have a great interest in coming in contact with as many people as possible who I feel have similar experiences as me. I was only recently accepted to an MSTP and just want to make connections. Hopefully this will grow into a supportive network.

    Q: What are your thoughts on being accepted to programs to "diversify" the program and/or school?
  2. paramus

    paramus Member

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    It depends on the individual circumstances, I think. If you’re talking about choosing from among five candidates with the same credentials and the same commitment, then I don’t necessarily see a problem with accepting a minority candidate for the sake of injecting some ethnic diversity into the program. I would not, however, support accepting a minority candidate with noticeably lesser credentials or commitment unless there were serious hardships that might have contributed to those differences, and that qualification should be applied equally to everyone. Even that kind of system has its biases, though, because there are certain hardships that will be looked upon more kindly than others. If you had a bad semester because someone close to you died, the committees will forgive that, but god help you if you should admit to having had a bad semester because you had a debilitating case of depression for no obvious reason.

    What really gets me is how narrowly “diversity” seems to be defined - the kind of definition I was using above. My impression is that the programs are only interested in the kind of diversity that they can turn into a statistic, which really misses the point. For example, if you have two different people from two different races who grow up under the same circumstances, accepting one of them over another on the strength of being from a particular minority group does nothing to increase your diversity in a broader sense. I feel like diversity is often regarded as a kind of birthright based on who your parents or ancestors were rather than who you are as an individual, and that offends me. The word ought to carry a more inclusive connotation that takes in what you actually do and experience in your life instead of reducing your existence to a stereotype based on what box you checked on the AMCAS.

    It's all very complicated. I have spent a lot of time thinking about this since I started the application process because as a white male liberal with a somewhat borderline application, it presents an interesting conflict: it is true that affirmative action does little to harm my application in a statistical sense while greatly aiding the process of integrating the country, but when you get to the point of interviewing, reality starts to change from statistical probabilities to a zero sum game. Will I get passed over at a school for another candidate based on ethnicity, and if so, is that an acceptable price to pay for historical realities that I had nothing to do with and did not benefit from? Maybe, maybe not…it’s not really my call anyway.
  3. smusa

    smusa New Member

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    I feel that there is absolutely nothing wrong with being accepted into a program to aid in its attempts to “diversify” its student body. Being accepted means that you were qualified to gain admittance to the program, regardless of background, but because of your ethnicity you were the chosen among equals. Despite this attempt, I do agree that many of the current practices aimed at increasing minority enrollment has failed, based on the fact that there has not been any significant difference in the percentage of minority physicians today in 2005 than there was before the civil rights movement.

    The goal of increasing minority enrollment is to bridge and ultimately eliminate the growing amount of health disparities minorities experience in comparison to the general population. This plan is only effective if the minorities who benefit from this strategy have a vested interest in removing this affliction from their people. Unfortunately, it seems that some students accepted in hopes of diversifying the student body have no interest in serving underrepresented communities, or do not come from a disadvantaged background and thus feel disconnected to the target minority population they represent. As a result, I believe that programs should also aim to diversify based on socioeconomic status, family history, and demographics. For example, Caucasian male who grew up in a poor rural setting and is the first generation of his family to attend college is definitely from a disadvantaged background compared to the majority of medical school applicants, and should be recognized as such.

    Does this now mean it is wrong to diversify on ethnicity alone? Absolutely not! The fact that the percentage of minority physicians is terribly low compared to the percentage of minorities in the population shows that qualified minorities need to be represented in medicine field before we can discuss issues of fairness. The medical field is one of the most elite professions in our society, and as a minority, regardless of background and socioeconomic status, there are obstacles that must be overcome. Despite the progress made in our society, prejudice is still very deeply entrenched in it, and the medical profession is no exception, as demonstrated by the mere existence of health disparities between minorities and the majority population of equivalent socioeconomic status and demographics. Increasing the amount of minorities in medicine will increase our ability as a profession to see and address issues afflicting our society that are not as readily apparent to majority members of our society.

    Lastly, in regards to the “historical realities”, it is not fair that the minority community continues to suffer as a result of these historical events. In this nation, the basis of wealth is property, which essentially translates to land. In the following instances, I will be referring specifically to the African-American community. Being denied the opportunity to own land and to accumulate wealth for centuries affects us in present day because it has never been fair to begin with. A concrete demonstration of this can be seen in the pattern of our school system today. Most students in this nation attend public schooling, but there is still a gap between the achievement of minority students in comparison to the rest of the population. The funding for public schooling comes in large part from the local property taxes in that community. If you live in a poor community, it is very likely that you will attend a school in that community which lacks sufficient funding to offer an education of equivalent value to a student attending school in a more affluent community. Most African-Americans are only two or three generations removed from slavery, which means that the majority still live in predominantly African-American communities with an inferior quality of education, and as a result very little chance of social advancement without intervention. It is not fair to be offered the opportunity for advancement then be denied the proper training to take advantage of it. What some considered to be a closed chapter in American history continues to have ramifications in our society today.

    In closing, I believe that being accepted into an institution in hopes of diversifying it is perfectly acceptable, and in fact, needs to be more aggressively pursued. Nevertheless, diversifying higher education and elite professions will continue to remain a problem, because it is starting too late in the education cycle.
  4. 1Path

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    While I in general agree with what you had to say, I think that as a URM future MD/PhD, I should reply to this comment. Serving underrepresented communities in some clinical fashion isn't the only way to address health disparities. In fact, I'd say that the "best" way to do so is to pursue a career in scientific research in an area like diabetes or cancer, diseases which disproportionately affect minorities.

    Also, using SES isn't going to work any better than diversity in admitting people who want to serve in underserved communties. The one white doctor I know from the poorest of the poor of the eastern shore of Maryland told me that while SES helped her get into medical school, she has NO intention of going back to her community. And to add insult to injury, she's completing a residency in dermatology. I'm just guessing here, but the number of women from her copmmunity in Maryland getting regular facial peels and acne treatments is probably not that great.

    In my experience, the people who are committed to serving in disadvantaged communities primarily do so for alturistic reasons NOT out of obligation to fulfill a promise made at the time of the interview.
  5. honeygrits

    honeygrits Junior Member

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    I agree that directly serving a specific community is not the only way to have a positive effect on that communities health outcomes. And it is true that biomedical research geared towards specific health concerns in a community is a great avenue to address health disparities. But we need to look at the many roots of health disparities.

    Genetic and physiologic predispositions are not the only things affecting cardiovascular disease in african americans, for example. Clearly there are many psycosocial and cultural aspects to the propogation of disease in minority communities.

    I simply see my role in serving my community as an AA female, as more of a role model; blazing new trails. Anyone who denies racial stereotypes to become far more then what was expected of them, give hope to their community. Indirectly these positive effects, may better SES, and then health. Admittedly this is all hypothetical.

    But through biomedical research, providing health care to our URM communities, and simply showing people that career goals are obtainable, we'll have the desired effects on communities.

    one the side::: what schools r u looking at attending? just curious ;)
  6. paramus

    paramus Member

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    It is a matter of degree, though. Theoretically, I am qualified to attend every school has put me in the “acceptable” pile, but the schools believe other people to be more worthy of attending. That would suggest to me that not all acceptable applicants are created equal. I have no idea how closely this pattern is followed among MSTPs, but the fact of the matter is that regular MD URM applicants get a fairly significant benefit of the doubt when it comes to their numbers (JAMA 2003;289:1143-1149), so it is not unreasonable to think that this extends to other areas of their applications. It’s not that anyone unqualified is being admitted; it’s that a harsher standard is being used for non-URMs, in which case it is not necessarily accurate to presume that that a URM would have an equally competitive application were race removed as a consideration.

    Of course, you can then argue that eliminating race as a consideration would be foolish because you would be failing to take a significant part of the applicant’s identity into account, and I think you would be right to some extent, although I would refer back to my previous post about definitions of diversity. Automatically equating an increase in ethnic diversity with better health care for underserved communities, particularly with regard to research, would be a mistake; individual motivations have to be taken into account, which is why I am uncomfortable with blanket affirmative action policies if the goal is simply to “diversify” the class to please NIH. And yes, it does happen; a program director at one of the schools where I interviewed mentioned it in my interview, although I can't for the life of me remember how it came up.

    Just to be clear, I am NOT questioning the OP’s application or anyone else’s individual application for that matter. I'm speaking in generalities about the need to not speak in generalities.

    It’s just really sad that these things are still an issue – and that people aren’t seriously going after the real causes like poverty and public school funding. It’s typical of American health care: treat the symptom, not the cause.
  7. Gfunk6

    Gfunk6 Troublemaker Moderator Lifetime Donor

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    Political arguments aside, the cold, harsh reality is that a sizable chunk of URMs is increasingly more important to get MSTP grant renewals. For that reason alone, it is important to "diversify."

    Unfortunately, all the URMs who are equally qualifed as their ORM counterparts are always accepted at top MSTPs rendering it impossible for "lower tier" programs to swell their ranks with qualified URMs. This is where the inevitable question of, "how much are we willing to sacrifice in applicant quality to maintain diversity?" creeps in. Each program was its own ideas I suppose, but most are willing to sacrifice quite a bit.
  8. 1Path

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    Well I guess we have to define exactly what "quality" is. Unfortunately reminescent of the allopathic thread in SDN, the idea that "quality" can ONLY be defined by high MCAT's and GPA's is a misleading. In my many years of experience in research settings of all the MD/PhD's I've met from ALL races, not ONE of them has impresed me as being "unqualified" and for good reason. The fact is that ANYONE smart enough to navigate an MD/PhD curriculum at ANY school must be IMHO pretty dam smart.

    So if this idea of "quality" based on GPA's and MCAT's can be used to define URM's then perhaps it should apply to matirculants at state schools. The average MCAT/GPA's at state schools like University of Maryland are in fact lower than those of students at Hopkins, then perhaps there IS some truth to this idea of "quality" based strictly on the numbers. State schools matriculants are on average of a lower "quality" than those at Stanford. I guess schools like UNC-Chapel Hill and University fo Georgia have sacrificed quite a bit! :rolleyes:
  9. Gfunk6

    Gfunk6 Troublemaker Moderator Lifetime Donor

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    Quality of course is quite subjective. MCATs and GPAs are fast and easy cut-offs one can use. For MSTPs, research experience is probably of paramount importance however and productive research all the better.

    But why inject social engineering into the discussion? There are not objective studies supporting either position. The bottom line is that, at the very least, "diversity" will help your federal funding.

    Jump on the gravy train!
  10. 1Path

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    Double talk at it's finest. So medical schools use a different set of standards to diversify their class. Now lets just look at this from standpoint of that accepted URM student with "lower" stats. Better yet, why don't a few of you imagine what it would be like matriculate at a school where you're the ONLY of one of a few in the department. And despite your publication record at top schools, solid GPA which you earned while working 2 jobs, and decent MCAT (you couldn't afford the fancy prep classes), your classmates give you that "another affirmative action case" look. Then you look around the first week of class and you see that folks have started study groups mainly based on race because like it or not that's what people tend to do in new situations, associate with those people they have something in commom with initially. So there's the Korean group, the Chinese group and the Indian group. But because you're a URM, you have no "instant study group" because the school only admitted one URM that year. So while ever one is getting class exams, ect. from others in their "groups" that matriculated before them, you're SOL, because the only other URM MD/PhD in your department graduated last year.

    I realize that I could go on and on and some of you reading this would never "get it". So let me help you with a visual. Imagine yourself a student in Howard's MD/PhD with the other students thinking all the thoughts I spoke about above. Then tell me how it feels. Then tell me that when you do graduate whether or not your "spot" was earned or not. Attending these programs as the sole or one of few URMs' ain't quite the picknic many of you seem to believe it is and many, many times the "issues" have nothing to do with ability. Not only do URM students have to deal with the same academic stuff as others, but there are inevitably all these other nontangibles that are as much a part of the educational exprience for some URM's as taking final exams. Stats aside, anyone that would subject themselves to this "wonderful educational opportunity" has truly earned their spot and degress as far as I'm concerned.
  11. Gfunk6

    Gfunk6 Troublemaker Moderator Lifetime Donor

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    I don't like where this thread is going. I'm sure that we don't need to re-hash the pro- and anti- Affirmative Action arguments.

    From re-reading these posts, it seems that all of us agree that diversity is a good thing, which is a good thing. :)
  12. honeygrits

    honeygrits Junior Member

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    I would like to second that. My purpose in starting this thread was to make more connections with folks around the country. I figured "hey, I don't know too many minorities doing an MD/PhD".
  13. mus71

    mus71 New Member

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    This discussion has been interesting to read. Its good to know that so many of my future colleagues have given serious thought to this issue. I think that its okay if this discussion gets uncomfortable. Its the only way that progress is made, and more importantly we will be dealing with eachother in the future.
  14. 1Path

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    Currently filling out AMCAS ;)
  15. honeygrits

    honeygrits Junior Member

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    Good luck!!! :D
  16. 1Path

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    Bump everybody!! Currently working on school's on line application to med school as if the AMCAS wasn't enough!!
  17. JayQuah

    JayQuah Connect Four Champion

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    URM MSTP Applicant here. I have been encouraged by my research advisor and others that I most likely have a better chance of getting into a top-tiered school's MST program than I do for the regular MD at that same school. Their reasoning: admitting one URM over a equally qualified ORM to the MD program is a lot lower percentage than doing the same thing in the 7-12 person MSTP class. That percentage means a lot when NIH looks to renew funding at MSTP schools. Hollah.
  18. 1Path

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    From looking at your stats and where your're applying, it looks like you "aim for the fence"!!!!

    However, I just hope that by your previous post that you're not applying MD/PhD because it would be "easier" for you to get into med school. 8 or 9 years is a LONG time to be in a program you're not sure you're committed to. Also,most MD/PhD applicants have a lot more research experience but this can vary from school to school.

    Having said that, I'd say by your stats, that you'd be successful getting into an MD program although by applying MD/PhD, your going to be competing with a smaller but more "talented" pool of applicants.

    Oh yeah, you may want to put on your "flame retardant" suit.!!! :laugh:
  19. JayQuah

    JayQuah Connect Four Champion

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    Thanks for the reply...but I dno't know what you mean by aiming for the fence and the whole flame retardant thing?
    To clear things up, I am applying to MD/PhD because i want more than anything to be a research scientist, not just cause I want to get into medical school. While I am lacking on the time devoted to research experience a bit, I think it has been quality, and I am prepared to talk intelligently and creatively about what kind of research I'd like to continue....
    anyway.
  20. 1Path

    1Path Removed

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    A baseball reference for hitting home runs = applying to top schools.

    "Flaming" is an internet term for saying something that results in a LOT of comments. On SDN I've found that EVERY time posts are made referencing ORM's and URM's in the same post, people tend to get a little upset especially given the anti-affirmative action presence here.

    Best of luck with your applications!!!
  21. Gfunk6

    Gfunk6 Troublemaker Moderator Lifetime Donor

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    An excellent point. I have a feeling that you will be getting phone calls after interviews from directors who are very eager to have you at their program. Best of luck to you!
  22. JayQuah

    JayQuah Connect Four Champion

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    Ha, lets hope so.
  23. mdphd2b

    mdphd2b Hepato-phile

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    As someone who's worked on our MSTP Admissions Committee for 2 years, I think our most important question is about the applicant's "motivation" for MD/PhD training and what they have done to test this? Why not just MD or PhD? This is not a decision to be taken lightly. In reality, it takes most of us 8-9 years to get through, and a handful have done 10+yr. During this time things change SOOO much! You could get married, buy a house, have 1 (or usually 2) kids. There are times in the program when we all question "why the hell am I doing this?", especially when your original MD class graduates. It worries me to hear people making their whole decision for the next 10 years based on their "chances".
  24. 1Path

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    At 39, I get asked all the time why not just pick one and the reason for me is pretty clear, I love both science AND medicine. The thing is that I'm not worried about getting out of school ASAP so I can make a ton of money probably becasue I have never been motivated by money. I "have a life" and will continue to have one while in school.

    I said all that to say that it worries me when I hear applicants, especially female applicants, speak of having to put their life on hold because of school. As you pointed out, life goes on even after you matriculate MD/PhD.

    This was my exact point in a previous post!!!!! :thumbup:

    mdphd2b, I see you're at Pitt and that's a fantastic school especially for URM's. I've spoken to Dr.Webster (Minority Affairs) a few times over the years and LOVE the pathology program there, but I'll have to focus on schools in a certain geographic area for personal reasons.
  25. 1Path

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    So the question a smart and highly qualified URM applicant MUST ask themselves is, is this program interested in me because I'm a highly qualified URM or because I'm a highly qualified URM AND they have an interest in seeing me become a wel educated and prepared Physician-Scientist?? At some schools including some top schools, these ideas ARE mutually exclusive.
  26. mdphd2b

    mdphd2b Hepato-phile

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  27. tr

    tr inert protoplasm

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    Look, you can't ignore the fact that for 7-9 years (a decade if you're unlucky), you will be making peanuts and you will be forced to stay in the same location the entire time. This *does* put your life on hold, like it or not. What if you can't afford to have a child on your stipend? What if your significant other has to move to another state, and you can't follow him? Or what if you have to care for an ailing parent, and you don't have the money or the time to handle the responsibility? Face it, your freedom is significantly restricted for the time that you are in training. This is part of the reality of the program. Of course life goes on, but there are a lot of restrictions to it that are not present for normal working people.
  28. 1Path

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    Look, if you choose to limit your life options becasue you're in school, then go right ahead. The average MD/PhD stipend is 20K. If the other spouse also works you're talking at least 40K and probably a lot more since most MD/PhD students who are married are married to folks with college degrees. Throw in students housing, financial aid which DOES include childcare, then you're set.

    And what if you get into a car accident and are paralyzed from the neck down? What if your husband looses an arm while at work? What if you develope glaucoma while in medical school? What if, What if, What if???? It's called LIFE and in LIFE there are things which happend that you can't possible plan for. So you can spin yourself into a self induced case of paranoia worrying about things you can't control, or can live for the DAY. I choose to live for the DAY and take it as it comes.

    Here's the deal. You can make all the excuses in the world for not "going for it" in life. Luckily for me, I have PLENTY of role models and I plan to follow their lead.
  29. 1Path

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    All I have to ask you if what would you want them to do with YOU if you needed care? Continue on with their life as if nothing happened?
  30. tr

    tr inert protoplasm

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    Yeah, usually other graduate/medical students, at least the ones I know. Actually I know at least one case where the spouse of the MD-PhD student had to drop out of her own graduate program because the couple could not handle things financially.

    The point is that 'things' will happen whether you like it or not, and they are generally harder to deal with when you are living on a student stipend and tied down to a specific location, rather than working a regular job. So it is fallacious to say that 'putting your life on hold' is not a real phenomenon.


    No, that is a false dichotomy. There is the middle ground, which is to foresee possible difficulties and try to plan for them, rather than ignoring the fact that they may well happen.
  31. tr

    tr inert protoplasm

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    *sigh*
    The point is that you would either have to drop out of your program or find another alternative (e.g., shove the responsibility onto a sibling). This is a good example of the ways that being in graduate school for a decade can limit you. With a regular job, you have more flexibility: you can move to where your parent is, or you can afford to move your parent in with you. In grad school, you can't move and it would be pretty difficult to move your parent into your grungy grad student studio.

    Again, let me say it very slowly: Life as a graduate student is limiting in ways that life with a job is not. That is all.
  32. mdphd2b

    mdphd2b Hepato-phile

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    LOL...Hey tr, you're gonna love this: I DO in fact care for my 66-year-old mother. She is a widow who speaks little English, and since I'm an only child she has lived with me all my 33 years of life, including 11+yr of marriage! And YES she lives with us in my "grungy" two-bedroom Medical school housing at Pitt! And YES, reality does happen no matter what your position in life, student or not, and either way you have to balance and deal with the consequences. You can try to put your own life on hold if you want. but that doesn't stop everyone else from living :laugh:

    mdphd2b
    6th year MSTP (G4)
    Pitt Med
  33. Doctor&Geek

    Doctor&Geek 25 > 5 / 15 < 8 Lifetime Donor

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    You have my utmost respect. Not all people would make the same sacrifices.
  34. 1Path

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    When I was in GRAD school, my Dad moved in with my family after he had a hemorraghic (don't me kill for the spelling) stroke. So lets just say that when I was a kid he wiped my butt, and when I was an adult I wiped his.

    When I finished school, he was Dx with cancer so came to live me as a now divorced parent. I passed on MD/PhD because I didn't have the heart to place him in nursing home. Oh yeah, and I'm an ONLY child too! So much for only children NOT being able to share with others!

    Well you must be a child of someone on the economic level of Trump, Jordan, or Kennedy. :laugh:
    Have you ever had a REAL job? No offense but I realized that many folks will get there first jobs in residency. IMHO, graduate school is a cake walk compared to real jobs, at least those I had as a scientist in industry and for the feds. On a real job yes, they give you time off under the family medical leave act (which isn't even 10 years old BTW) but so much of what happens when you get back has to do with who you work with. And in industry, it's about the bottom line which you can't contribute to if you're not there. And don't let me mention working academia. Grant writing, experiments, publishing, all mean time ON the job.

    You know it's just amazing to me that you're discouraging people about things you seem to know so little about. :thumbdown:
  35. xanthines

    xanthines decaying organic matter Moderator Emeritus

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    So before this thread gets a little to out of control (too late, I know :laugh: ), I'd like to interject with my interpretation of the situation.

    Although pretty much everyone could have chosen their words more carefully, I think tr's main point was that the MD/PhD track is very demanding and people should know that before going in. It goes along with the idea of fully informed consent in research.

    I think everyone would agree that you're an amazing person and you deserve nothing but good fortunes, but when you say things like "XYZ happened to me and I still got through it and am going MSTP anyway" it's probably not representative since most people (yours truly included) would break down into a heaping, crying pile of mess.

    So to sum up:

    1. 1Path wants to be encouraging (which is good)
    2. tr wants people to make fully informed decisions (which is equally good)
    3. When 1Path says "If I can do it, so can you" it's like Derek Jeter telling me I can hit like him. (which is a nice thing to say, but probably not true for most people)

    -X

    /crawls back into hole
    //hopes the flames die down
    ///Doesn't like hot weather ;)

  36. 1Path

    1Path Removed

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    I was accepted MD/PhD in 2000 for the class entering in the Fall of 2000. This is 2005, so I guess you could say that I've spent much of the last 5 years in a "heaping, crying pile of mess".

    I think it all boils down to one word, Cahones or maybe in my case Ovaries, but I think you get my drift. :laugh: :laugh:

    About the Derek Jeter comment what I'm trying to say is that life isn't all or nothing like the Derek Jeter comment is (be the best or ride the bench. How about playing for fun??). Now if you had used Hank Arron, Jackie Robinson or Babe Ruth as an example, THEN we could start making comparisons. :D
  37. stherling

    stherling stherling

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    I think what frustrates me about this sort of discussion is that people throw up extremes (what if the world were to end? / the world ended and I still stuck through with MSTP on less than $20k a year!!). Neither is all that likely to happen.... the completely out of the blue crises OR the extremely strong and/or altruistic and frugal reaction. But for the 99% of us who will be living in the middle, there's really no reason to think of your life as 'on hold' either. constrained, yes. but there will always be constraints unless you're exceedingly rich or endowed with supernatural powers. Still gotta get out there and live... or at least that's my philosophy :)

    Though of course it all depends on what you mean by 'on hold' anyway....
  38. tr

    tr inert protoplasm

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    So there you go. It turns out even you recognized the difficulties of combining grad school with other life responsibilities. You did the right thing, good for you. But you're still agreeing with me.
    ;)
  39. tr

    tr inert protoplasm

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    I dunno, I think the situations I suggested were well within the realm of the possible. And then I was supported by the fact that two members of the board spoke up who had actually faced those situations. 1Path tried to pretend like I was bringing up crazy apocalyptic scenarios, but then ruined her own argument by revealing that she actually had had to care for an aging parent, and it had conflicted with her graduate school plans.

    And, in the interests of full disclosure, I am dealing with one of the others I cited. And it certainly would be much easier if I weren't in graduate school.
  40. stherling

    stherling stherling

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    don't get me wrong, i didn't say grad school (or med school for that matter) would be easy. like i said, every life situation puts some constraints on you. to use one of your own examples: if my significant other had to leave the state and i had to stay, that problem would obviously have arisen not just from the constraints of my situation, but my partner's as well.

    Not all jobs provide the finances or freedom to move that you seem to be contrasting with life as a grad student. many people in the working world can't move because they'd lose their job and don't have any certainty of getting another. or can't support ailing parents on their salaries.

    anyway. to echo xanthines' earlier comment... i think to some degree we're talking at cross purposes here. you have a good point about some of the difficulties one can face during grad school. 1path has a good point about living life to the fullest. my point i guess would be that maybe we shouldn't sweat too much about potential problems before they occur, and that we shouldn't over glorify life outside MSTP either.

    I'm now going to sit down and shut up. I hope I didn't offend anyone!

    (also, big apology to the OP for hijacking the thread)
  41. 1Path

    1Path Removed

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    Some people are strong enough to look adversity in the face and deal with it. Some are not. Some people whine and complain about how hard their life is. Others do not. Some people cower when life gets rough. Others do not. Some people use words like obstacle, struggle, conflict, hard to describe tough times. Other's use words like blessed, fortified, faithful, and challenged.

    Is the cup half-empty or half-full, THAT is the question. And this isuse of dealing with life as it comes actually IS related somewhat to the OP's original question. A URM that matriculates at a school other than Howard, Meharry, or Morehouse WILL have more "obstacles" to deal with.
  42. tr

    tr inert protoplasm

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    1Path, why do you constantly find it necessary to resort to irrelevant ad hominem assertions combined with empty rhetoric? You're not running for public office, it's okay if you lose the drama.

    This is not about whining or failing to deal with adversity. This is about being straightforward with new applicants. When prospectives ask me questions about the program, I feel it is my responsbility to give them a balanced understanding of what it entails: bad and good, advantages and disadvantages. This will allow them to plan their lives with open eyes.

    I think you are doing them a disservice when you state that the 'putting your life on hold' phenomenon is a myth. It exists. I have seen it at work on my own and my fellow students' lives and relationships. If you understand that it is there, you can plan for it: discuss the possibilities with your SO, figure out whether to plan future children into a financial aid package, etc. If you ignore it, it will come up and smack you in the face.

    Am I planning to drop out of my program because of this? Of course not, that would be ridiculous. Would I do it again if I had the chance? Absolutely. Does that mean I should lie to prospectives about the disadvantages of spending 7-10 years in school? I think you can probably figure out the answer to that if you let yourself think about it objectively.
  43. tr

    tr inert protoplasm

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    Of course that is true; every situation is unique. But some generalizations can be made, and I think it is fair to say that our working peers have more money and more flexibility to change locations and/or career directions than we do. After all, it is much less of a blow to the resume to change jobs than to drop out of a graduate program. Dropping out of grad school, even for the best of reasons, is a big red flag that one will find oneself explaining over and over to potential employers.

    Also, the examples you bring up are real and serious, but people that have the knowledge, education, and resources to enter MD-PhD programs are also generally in a good position to secure well-compensated employment if they so choose.
  44. 1Path

    1Path Removed

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    This one statement proves you've NEVER had a "real" job.

    Movin on............................

    Now back to the OP's original topic question, I'm applying to 2 and 3rd tier schools.
  45. tr

    tr inert protoplasm

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    I'm not sure what that means. I had the standard student jobs before and during college, and a regular post-college job between graduating from college and starting grad school.

    What I can tell you is that I have seen this in action in our lab, once with a postdoc applicant and once with a tech. The tech had dropped out of grad school, the postdoc had switched labs during her PhD. Both had valid reasons, but the PI treated this as a big red flag in both cases and ultimately accepted neither applicant. Of course this is an example restricted to academia, where more emphasis (obviously) is based on graduate education, but I have heard similar stories from a couple of people in biotech as well.

    Anyway, this isn't super-relevant because I'm not suggesting that a lot of people are going to drop out of grad school because they failed to consider the life-on-hold phenomenon. Also with the dual degree, there is always the option of dropping the PhD, which is much less of a problem than dropping out of grad school altogether. I just wanted to point out that the phenomenon is real (it is) and that applicants should be aware of this. That's all.

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