3.8/34 Rejected MD, reapplying MD/PhD, (details inside, sticky read)

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TheShaker

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Hi everyone, I'm coming here to ask for advice on somewhat of a unusual situation. I applied MD this cycle and I am now sitting on 4 waitlists with 0 acceptances. I'm preparing reapplication plans at the moment but I have had one lingering question throughout the entire cycle. I really regret not applying MD/PhD. Basically, I love basic science research but I also want to see patients. The two do not really need to be related to each other, I just like both practices individually. I applied under the belief that I want to be an MD who will do basic science on the side and that was my story for the entire cycle. I feel like this sounded quite naive on my part and I don't think plans like these ever really pan out. Anyways, my reason for wanting MD/PhD is simply because I want both degrees so that I can perform bench research as well as see patients in the classic 80/20 ratio. Is this a good reason for wanting MD/PhD? I feel so sad that I'm leaving my lab after graduation and I don't think I can see my career without a large research portion to it.

The other question is if I'm even viable for MD/PhD if I'm not even viable for MD. Is it a question of application strength or simply fit? I noticed that I had somewhat of a difficult time discussing clinical stuff during my interviews but I have been told that I am much more enthusiastic and articulate in talking about research.

Here's more about my application as of now.

cGPA: 3.85
sGPA: 3.81
MCAT: 11PS/11VR/12BS = 34Q

100 hours non-clinical volunteering
100 hours clinical volunteering
~10 hours shadowing orthopedic surgeon
Been working for the same research lab since Aug 2009 (3.5-4 years).

Possible first author publication: the manuscript is under review.
4 research grants for $500, 3 grants for $50.
Excellent recommendation from PI, "meh" recommendation from professors.

I have heard that PhD programs value school name more and I'm from a VERY weak state school (basically the #1 safety school of SoCal).

The reason I didn't get accepted MD is up in the air. It could be the late application (Sept. completions) or bad fit for the profession. I don't really know.

I guess the main question I'm asking is if it's a good idea for me to reapply as MD/PhD this cycle and if I have a good shot at getting in.

Thank you for any responses. :)

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I think you'd be competitive at some quality MD/PhD programs; maybe not HMS or Stanford but if you hedge your bets and apply broadly enough (i.e., early apps to multiple schools outside the top 25 and in locations other than the coasts, including mid/low tier MSTPs and non-MSTPs) I see no reason for you to not get an acceptance next round.
Your stats likely aren't what held you back from getting an MD acceptance, so I'd really buckle down on your essays, your secondaries, and your interview skills. Seek out some guidance from people who have gone through this before and have them look over your app, mock interview you, etc.
 
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One thing that will be scrutinized at schools that you'd be reapplying to will be the fact that you applied MD to them first, and yes, they will know. Definitely have a good answer for that question if you get interviews there.
 
I applied under the belief that I want to be an MD who will do basic science on the side and that was my story for the entire cycle.

Unfortunately it's a minority of medical schools who will accept MD-only students who have this philosophy. See: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC153774/

Residency programs are the same way, unfortunately. There's a certain box you're put in, and you have to fit that box.

Is this a good reason for wanting MD/PhD? I feel so sad that I'm leaving my lab after graduation and I don't think I can see my career without a large research portion to it.

Classically that is the reason to do it.

The other question is if I'm even viable for MD/PhD if I'm not even viable for MD. Is it a question of application strength or simply fit? I noticed that I had somewhat of a difficult time discussing clinical stuff during my interviews but I have been told that I am much more enthusiastic and articulate in talking about research.

It's hard to say what exactly happened to you. It could be all sorts of things, interviews, essays, LORs, where you applied, late application, etc... You look competitive for MD/PhD, however.

I have heard that PhD programs value school name more and I'm from a VERY weak state school (basically the #1 safety school of SoCal).

Nobody cares. The PhD programs at anywhere but the top programs are happy to get graduate students who are fluent in English. Besides, MD/PhD students are picked by a different selection committee and almost always get whatever PhD program they want with very rare exceptions.

The reason I didn't get accepted MD is up in the air. It could be the late application (Sept. completions) or bad fit for the profession. I don't really know.

It could be that you applied mostly to California medical schools and you are a white or asian scientist leaning person without stellar stats. California medical schools are notorious for wanting the touchy feely, diverse applicants, and the playing field is extremely competitive. This includes for MD/PhD: you need to apply broadly.

I guess the main question I'm asking is if it's a good idea for me to reapply as MD/PhD this cycle and if I have a good shot at getting in.

Seems like it to me. The biggest question I have and the question I'd have if I were interviewing you is why you didn't just apply MD/PhD in the first place.
 
I think you have a decent shot of getting in, at least with mid/lower tier schools, but I'm not an expert on this. I, like you, applied MD only this year and then realized MD/PhD was really what I wanted to do. Luckily, one of the schools that accepted me is allowing me to apply internally to MD/PhD. I think that especially if you get that first author publication (but even if not, just mention a submitted manuscript), you would be in the running for MD/PhD.

It's possible that your application didn't fare well due to the combination of a late submission and your obvious dedication to research. Just my 2 cents, but why not try applying to a combination of MD and MD/PhD programs this next cycle and see what happens?

I am thinking about applying to both types of programs. The problem is that I see my PS and my LORs being a bit awkward trying to reconcile the two programs. How have people done it in the past?

Also, I don't think listing the submitted manuscript is a good idea just because there is the possibility of my section of the paper being taken off/reduced and me being demoted to a lower author or removed altogether. We should be hearing back before June 4th though so I don't think that will be a problem.

It could be that you applied mostly to California medical schools and you are a white or asian scientist leaning person without stellar stats. California medical schools are notorious for wanting the touchy feely, diverse applicants, and the playing field is extremely competitive. This includes for MD/PhD: you need to apply broadly.

I did apply to my state schools and I knew it's kind of a crapshoot. For MD, I tried to apply broadly to OOS privates but for MD/PhD, do I have a wider selection since I can apply to OOS public schools without discrimination?



Seems like it to me. The biggest question I have and the question I'd have if I were interviewing you is why you didn't just apply MD/PhD in the first place.

I'm guessing this is a question I will have to address a lot. Is naivety a good enough excuse? :oops:

I mean, I was uninformed about the pathway that I chose and I made a big mistake. If I could do what I wanted with an MD then I might as well save ~6 years of my life and not waste NIH funding. The MSTP pool of applicants intimidated me as well. I accept my mistake and if I wanted the career that I envisioned, I should have applied MD/PhD. I know that now and that is exactly what I'm doing. You live and you learn right? I hope this is acceptable.

Will this be held against me pre-interview though? Should I be making an effort to explain myself?
 
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Naivety is an acceptable excuse, especially coming from a "VERY weak state school". (It would be more difficult to convince us of this if you were at Berkeley or UCLA.) Without blaming your undergrad school, you should write in the "Why MD-PhD" essay about the evolution of your understanding of the appropriate training pathway for your career.
 
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