Quantcast

A slightly-more-neurotic-than-usual "what are my chances" thread

This forum made possible through the generous support of SDN members, donors, and sponsors. Thank you.

OCDOCDOCD

Full Member
7+ Year Member
Joined
May 26, 2012
Messages
1,607
Reaction score
125

Members don't see this ad.
So I'm going to be applying to MD/PhD programs next year. Where I currently stand is:

- 3.78 GPA with 3.72 BCPM (mix of 2 years at a tier 4 state school and 3 years at a top 20 university)
- 39S MCAT
- 5 years of research experience
- Undergrad honors thesis
- 2 posters presented at a college undergrad poster session
- 1 first author poster I'll be presenting at the Society for Neuroscience conference next month, along with another poster there that I'm second author on. I'll also be a second author on a third poster presented early next year at another international conference.
- 3 first author publications in the works which should all (hopefully) be submitted by the end of October since all of them are nearly finished. I'll also be corresponding author on at least one of them if that makes any difference. All of these are going to get submitted to journals with impact factors in the 2-4 range.
- I know I can count on 4 PIs for great LORs as well.

I'm aware all of that is pretty good (save for maybe the lowish BCPM). What concerns me though, and the whole reason for this thread is:

- I have no clinical experience. I've been trying to get hooked up with a shadowing opportunity but that hasn't been going well so far, and I'm trying to volunteer with a hospice but they're really dragging their feet getting me the paperwork I need to fill out before I can get started. At the current rate things are going it'll probably be mid or late October before I start getting any clinical experience. How much is this going to hurt me? I know MD/PhD programs don't care as much about volunteering and clinical experience as MD programs, but I know they still care (after all, you can't know for sure you want the MD portion unless you've had clinical experience). For better or worse I (usually) have a lot of free time outside of work, so I can rack up a lot of hours quickly. My concern, though, is whether starting this late going to make it look like I just jumped into a bunch of stuff to box check before the next admissions cycle and diminish any clinical experience I get between then and now.

- I also don't have any leadership experience, unless managing students in labs counts as leadership experience.

- When I transferred to my top 20 school, I ended up taking somewhat of a light courseload the whole time. What happened is that I needed to make as much room in my schedule as possible for research (I was coming in about 20-30 hours a week and my lab was off-campus which meant a 30 minute commute), and at my school all the courses were 4 credit hours instead of the normal 3. As a result, most semesters I had about 16-17 hours which translates to 4 classes, one of which was usually a research credit course. There was one semester where I went as low as 12 (three classes since I withdrew from one my first semester, which I later retook), another with 13 (3 normal classes, one 1 credit hour PE class), and then one or two where I had five or six classes. On the bright side all of these were science courses (with the exception of 2 semesters of Japanese and two 1 credit hour PE classes). Will this hurt me? I know schedules are often viewed in terms of credit hours, but I don't know how things are handled when a college like mine does something weird and decides all their classes are worth 4 credit hours due to "greater difficulty".

- There's also a noticeable difference in my institutional GPA between the state school and top 20. At the state school it was 3.98, at the top 20 it was 3.65 (with several semesters that each had GPAs in the 3.5 - 3.6 range). I don't how serious of a blemish this is.

- While I can count on the above mentioned 4 PIs for LORs, that's about it for LORs. I have my academic adviser from undergrad who was also on my thesis committee that I could ask for a letter, but as far as professors from classes go I'm at a loss since I was never terribly visible/memorable in classes and I'll be two years out of school come the next year's cycle. There's one or two professors I could probably ask, but I only had them for a semester and I don't know if they'll remember me very well. Both of them are science professors; as far as non-science professors go, I'm SOL because, as I said before, I didn't take any non-science courses in my last three years of college save for Japanese which I got a B+ in both semesters. How much of an issue is this likely to be?


So, all of that said, what kind of position am I in right now? Am I worrying over nothing, or does all of this seriously harm my chances of getting accepted? I'm aiming for top 10 or top 20 schools; assuming I can get sufficient clinical experience before next June, is that a realistic expectation or am I setting my sights way too high?
 
Joined
Oct 11, 2007
Messages
2,101
Reaction score
3,629
You will be fine. Yes, the GPA comparison is a red flag, but they don't care as much because they are reporting the combined GPA to the training grant. You only need 50-100 hours of clinical shadowing to make them aware that you are serious about pursuing a MD degree.

For a PD, LORs from professors from classes are almost worthless. We already got a grade from the class. What matters are the LORs from supervisors/professors at the research laboratories. If you can get one from the MD who you did all of the shadowing, that is great. It shows that you have the professionalism needed.

Enjoy the ride! The qualifications and circumstances reported above are compatible with multiple interviews at your desired training locations.
 

OCDOCDOCD

Full Member
7+ Year Member
Joined
May 26, 2012
Messages
1,607
Reaction score
125
You will be fine. Yes, the GPA comparison is a red flag, but they don't care as much because they are reporting the combined GPA to the training grant. You only need 50-100 hours of clinical shadowing to make them aware that you are serious about pursuing a MD degree.

For a PD, LORs from professors from classes are almost worthless. We already got a grade from the class. What matters are the LORs from supervisors/professors at the research laboratories. If you can get one from the MD who you did all of the shadowing, that is great. It shows that you have the professionalism needed.

Enjoy the ride! The qualifications and circumstances reported above are compatible with multiple interviews at your desired training locations.
Thanks for the post. Good to know about the LORs and clinical shadowing. I guess the GPA will be my biggest issue then, especially considering most of the top 10s have averages of 3.9+.

Also, I take it from your post that I needn't stress over leadership experience and "interesting" ECs/talents/etc.? I've seen some schools mention that stuff on their websites, and I know that some schools like UCLA have an entire secondary essay devoted to talking about leadership experience which is what has me concerned.
 

K31

Full Member
10+ Year Member
Joined
May 10, 2011
Messages
999
Reaction score
55
Also, I take it from your post that I needn't stress over leadership experience and "interesting" ECs/talents/etc.?

It's much less of a factor for MD/PhD admissions than MD. As long as you have the numbers (you do) and meet some very bare minimum of clinical experience, research will be the deciding factor.
 

barcamdphd21

Full Member
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Joined
Oct 17, 2007
Messages
48
Reaction score
0
You are in great shape for all top programs. While the GPA is a little bit on the low side, your research experience far surpasses it and I bet adcoms will not think twice at that GPA after seeing the MCAT and research experience. The GPA factor is more for Grant application and it is still not outside the range.

As a applicant that went through the process last year, I can tell you that for MD-PhD all you need in terms of clinical experience is a good quality (quality far greater than quantity) experience that demonstrates two things: 1) you have a rough idea of what "real" medicine is about ( the hard work, the struggle with the system, problems patients and families encounter, the rewards, etc) and 2) that you really want to practice medicine for this reasons.

I would recommend trying to get a shadowing experience as soon as possible before the interviews, preferably at a hospital ICU or Medicine floor if possible. You will get a lot of valuable experience in a very short amount of time, especially if it is a teaching hospital. (I only did one week of ICU shadowing but the amount of knowledge you gain about how medicine is practiced as well a healthcare and social issues of medicine are of immense importance.) Along side this, you can continue with the volunteering experience.

You just have to make it genuine. For some schools, the medical school interview will not matter and they will even tell you straight forward that it is just a formality. They just want to see that you are a human and not a robot. For others, and you will soon learn which, the medical school interview will be an important interview.

And as K31 said, all this is just a screening factor. Once they see you have the numbers, and the clinical experience, research will be the main deciding factor. To give you a perspective, in most interviews you will have 1 medical school interview and 5-6 MD-PhD interviews.

Good luck going forward.
 
Top