Am I MD/PhD Material ?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by girlscientist, Jan 21, 2001.

  1. girlscientist

    girlscientist Junior Member

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    Hi,
    I am interested in MD/PhD programs and I was wondering if I even had a chance to get into one. My overall is 3.6, my science is 3.4, Biology major and I'll be taking the MCAT in April. I also have 3yrs research experience and 1 published abstract. I've even done Summer programs at Cornell and Mount Sinai. Mount Sinai is my 1st choice. Please give me any advice on my chances and what kind of MCAT score would make me more competitive. Thanks.
     
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  3. mr_sparkle

    mr_sparkle Member

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    From my experience, high MCATs and solid research experience outweigh a strong GPA. MD/PhD committees tend to be more lenient with the grades if the MCAT score is above 33. The process is somewhat different from the regular MD admission. The committees are looking for dedicated bench scientists, so they give different emphasis when evaluating an application. I have seen very good people rejected from MD/PhD at UCLA, but accepted to Harvard MD. And conversely, I know people much better than me who didn't get into my school's MD/PhD program.

    I think your GPA won't be much of a problem if you kick ass on the MCAT. For what its worth, it's easier to get into med school through MD/PhD, than it is through the MD route. But that is a story for another time.

    Good luck studying,

    Mr_sparkle
     
  4. gower

    gower 1K Member

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    Since you have done summer research programs at Mt. Sinai and Cornell, have you asked at both schools whether you would be competitive for MD/PhD? Speak with your research supervisors, let them know you will be applying for MD/PhD and sound them out on their support for you at each medical school. You might then also ask if they could write a strong supporting letter when you apply to other medical schools. Try not to put them on the spot. If you are sure you detect any hesitancy, no matter how little, you may be in trouble. You probably have no other option than to take a chance that, while the letters may not praise you to the skies, they will still be strong. You have no other option anyway. If you mention that you did research and then don't submit letters from those you worked with, what inference would you make if you were on an admissions committee?

    For the PhD part of MD/PhD, you will need separate letters from the people you did research with. A separate committee will look over your PhD application. Possible outcomes are MD/PhD: yes/yes; yes/no; no/yes; no/no].
     
  5. gower,

    how many med schools do you know of that evaluate each part MD/PhD of an application separately? I have only found a few programs that consider MD separately from PhD if you apply to the joint program, the most notable one being Johns Hopkins.

    ------------------
    "There is nothing more powerful on this Earth as a man who has nothing to lose. It does not take ten such men to change the world--one will do." Elijah Mohammed
     
  6. mr_sparkle

    mr_sparkle Member

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    What Gower said is true. The MD/PhD admissions committee are a separate entity from MD admissions. Accordingly, most schools run the admissions process into two different tracks. Things may have changed since I went through, but it was only 2 years ago.

    At most schools they pool together their MD/PhD applicants. The MD/PhD committee has first crack at reviewing applications, deciding whether to interview, hold, or reject. If the MD/PhD committee chooses to reject, then the applicant's file moves to the regular MD pool. The only major disadvantage is time. It can set back an applicant to the same time frame as an August MCAT applicant in the MD pool. I know this was the policy at all the UC schools, UT Southwestern, Case Western, and most New York area schools.

    The interview scheme is equally dichotomous. For example, say the MD/PhD program invites you for an interview. You can expect 7 MD/PhD interview sessions plus 1 MD interview all on the same day. Consequently, someone can be accepted by the MD/PhD and rejected by the MD committee. At all the schools the MD admissions rubber-stamp an acceptance offer by the MD/PhD program. On the other hand, you can be accepted by the MD program alone and rejected by the MD/PhD. In that case you have the option of applying as a first year med student to the MD/PhD program.

    Aiyah. I hope that clarifies things for you. I'm aware of only a handful of schools which operate a parallel MD vs MD/PhD application process. These things should not discourage you though.

    I really should be studying pathology.

    Mr_sparkle
     
  7. girlscientist

    girlscientist Junior Member

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    If I were to be accepted into MD but not MD/PhD, do I have any chance of getting in by applying after the first year of medical school?
     
  8. doepug

    doepug Senior Member

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    Absolutely!

    If you're 100% sure that MD/PhD is for you, then go for it. But if you're the least bit uncertain (and willing to shell out a year or two of med school tuition), first and second year med students are often accepted into the MD/PhD program at the schools they attend. While getting into an MD/PhD program is never easy, you'll face much better odds as an internal applicant. Besides, in the first years of med school, if you're really gung-ho about research, you should have connections in basic science depts who could support your application.

    Be careful though - don't apply to an MD program banking on the idea that you'll easily jump into MD/PhD. Depending on the institution, you can face issues regarding funding, not to mention possible miles of red tape.

    Good luck -

    Doepug
    (Hopkins Med '04)
     
  9. tr

    tr inert protoplasm
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    Hey girlscientist,

    If you were accepted into the Sigma Xi program at Mt Sinai, you're probably in the ballpark for their MD-PhD program as well. Those summer programs are not trivial to get into.

    (I also did that program, by the way, and thought it a great thing; their MD-PhD program seems equally excellent!)

    Your GPA seems a trifle on the low side, but it shouldn't be disabling. As mr-sparkle indicated, MD-PhD programs are more likely to cut you a little GPA slack if you look good otherwise than are straight MD programs. (This does *not* mean it's easier to get into an MD-PhD program: cf. it's impossible to be rejected MD and accepted MD-PhD, but the reverse happens quite often!It's just that MD-PhD programs are more rigorous in other demands - e.g., research experience - that you nevertheless seem quite likely to fulfil.)

    As other posters have indicated, the most important thing for you is to do well on your MCAT. If you break 35, I'd say (from the limited information available, and with the caveat that these things are always a big crapshoot) you're a shoo-in at Sinai. 30-35, could go either way. Less than 30 will be a severe disability. And if you can manage to bring up your GPA just a little, that will also be helpful.

    Other than that, the interviews are huge, but I don't know what anyone can tell you about that. Try and do a practice interview if the career office at your school has such sessions available.

    Best of luck!
     
  10. tr

    tr inert protoplasm
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    Oh, and a note to gower:

    Johns Hopkins does *not* consider MD and MD-PhD separately (or didn't last year). In fact, JHU is the only school I know of that requires the applicant to choose one program or the other. That is, if you apply MD-PhD, you forfeit the chance to get into the MD program alone.

    Most of the other schools I know of run things as indicated by mr-sparkle: the MD-PhD adcom gets first crack at the application; if no interview is granted, the app goes to the MD adcom (but by then the applicant is at a disadvantage, having already lost lots of time).

    A few schools (Harvard, Duke and Wash U come to mind) seemed to be evaluating the applications in parallel, as these schools sent separate interview decisions from both programs at about the same time. This is good because it means there's no time disadvantage for applicants rejected from MD-PhD but still hoping for an MD slot.
     
  11. tr

    tr inert protoplasm
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    Sorry - to baylor21, not gower.

    Last post, I promise [​IMG]
     
  12. tr,

    I was pretty sure that Johns Hopkins has a separate MD/PhD admissions process...

    I went back to the website and found it. It appears they changed their policy this year.

    Read the paragraphs under the section "Admissions Process."
    http://www.med.jhu.edu/mdphd/new_page_6.htm



    ------------------
    "There is nothing more powerful on this Earth as a man who has nothing to lose. It does not take ten such men to change the world--one will do." Elijah Mohammed
     
  13. mr_sparkle

    mr_sparkle Member

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    tr,

    I'm not saying that MD/PhD acceptance and MD rejection occurs often or at all schools. While I was interviewing, I spoke with the secretaries at a couple MD/PhD offices. They have told me that it happens once every few years. The MD adcoms then rubberstamp the applicant through. It's usually because the MD/PhD director has more faculty muscle. Besides, I remember a couple of my MD interviewers (at different schools) commenting that their evaluations weren't that important.

    I did not intend to make MD/PhD admissions sound like a cakewalk either. Its just a different kind of hazing.

    mr_sparkle
     
  14. mjs419

    mjs419 Member

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    Hi all,
    I just have a question for any MD/PhD students out there. I'm a junior, so I'm going to begin applying to MSTP programs starting in May. I have a competitive GPA and a decent MCAT score. I am most concerned about my research background. I have been conducting independant research in a developmental biology lab for a year and a half and have acquired some good data that will most likely help to produce a strong senior thesis.

    Unfortunately (for me), the principle investigator in my lab is very patient with data. He prefers to sit on data in order to build a strong story. I can't really argue with this- I really like all the papers he's published. Most likely I won't be in the lab when any of this material goes to press. So I'm wondering how important is a publication in a major journal to the admissions process in MSTP programs? Would you say that all, most, some or almost none of your peers had publications in press by the time they enrolled in their first year in their MSTP programs?

    Also, if you don't mind, I'm curious to what schools you attend and what you think of them in general. I don't really want to spend the next 8 years of my life in a place that gives me the heebie-jeebies, so I'm trying to amass peoples' opinions and descriptions about where they study. Thanks [​IMG]
     
  15. tr

    tr inert protoplasm
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    mjs419, don't sweat the publications.

    It's true that they are a bonus if you have them, but it's not at all a death-knell if you don't.

    Pubs are good because they are indicators of a long-term commitment to and deep involvement with research; but if this sort of thing is apparent from the rest of your application anyway, the adcoms will see that.
     
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  17. mjs419

    mjs419 Member

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    Cool beans. Thanks for the help.
     

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