Anyone accepted while enrolled PhD student?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by biophysicsbadass, Mar 19, 2001.

  1. biophysicsbadass

    biophysicsbadass Junior Member

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2001
    Messages:
    13
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hey guys,
    Does anyone know the general policy on whether or not being enrolled as a PhD student hurts your admission to med school? I was reading that someone in a PhD program didn't get in because the ad com told them they finish the degree, even if they planned to be done by the time med school commenced. This seems odd, especially since you can take a few years off to do research between 2nd and 3rd year, so theoretically you could finish your PhD then. Has anyone been in this situation and been accepted, or rejected because of their PhD status? Anything to offer would be helpful.
     
  2. Thread continues after this sponsor message. SDN Members do not see this ad.

  3. LSU grad

    LSU grad Junior Member

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2001
    Messages:
    21
    Likes Received:
    0
    I started a Ph.D. program and decided (in the first year) that I wanted to go to medical school. Initially I wanted to transfer into a MD/Ph.D. program so I could maintain my course of study. I was told by several medical schools that no school would let me do that. Students must be accepted into the med school first and then the Ph.D. program must admit you (this all happens in the same year). Then came the catch-22 for me: a medical school will not accept anyone with an unfinished degree. I was advised to either get a 2nd Masters or finish the Ph.D. before applying to medical school. I decided to do the 2nd Master's so I could start the process faster. I am interviewing right now and everything is going fine. The only regret I have is that my application was completed late in the process (because I was studying for comps this past summer!), and I am at a disadvantage because of it. Definitely plan on getting everything in as soon as the cycle opens! If you have any more questions, let me know. Good Luck, and don't be afraid to go for it!
     
  4. gower

    gower 1K Member

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2000
    Messages:
    1,031
    Likes Received:
    0
    As a general rule, medical schools consider grad students, and look at their graduate grades, only if the students will have obtained the degree before the medical school classes start. At least one of the reasons is that they do not want to raid graduate programs. Another is that they prefer students who follow through on what they begin.

     
  5. mschlesi

    mschlesi Junior Member

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2000
    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hi, I applied this year and was accepted to start in August. I am in my 6th year of PhD and defending in June. I must have my degree posted on my transcripts prior to starting classes in August.
    I found my degree was a real asset in this process!
    Good luck
     
  6. kris

    kris Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2001
    Messages:
    561
    Likes Received:
    0
    LSU grad and mschlesi,
    I'm really glad you posted your experiences. I was also wondering if anyone else had an experience similar to mine (posted on another thread). Not to discount mschlesi's experience, but I do want to emphasize caution here.

    My experience, as an advanced grad student in a philosophy program, was much like LSU's. I even had some schools tell me that it didn't matter if I was 'going to finish' by the time med school matriculation rolled around. I wondered if that had to do with the fact that I was in a humanities program as opposed to a science grad program. I'm just thinking 'out loud' here, but humanities PhD's take an average of 7 years to finish. I wonder if the schools just feel that they can't count on an intended graduation date. This was sort of intimated to me by one of the schools I applied to.

    Other than that, gower pretty much summed it up. But since mschlesi had such a different experience, it's obviously doable. Yet, since med school is so difficult to get into in the first place, I guess I just wouldn't take my chances at anything that might hinder my application. I think in the application process you don't want to do anything that the ad-comms must give you the benefit of the doubt on. After all, there are all those apps out there that don't need the benefit of the doubt.

    On that note, I'd like to hear more from mschlesi about why her(?) application was strengthened by being in a grad program. Would you mind enlightening us? [​IMG]

    --Kris

    [This message has been edited by kris (edited March 21, 2001).]
     
  7. GeoLeoX

    GeoLeoX Ancient

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2000
    Messages:
    754
    Likes Received:
    1
    Status:
    Attending Physician
    As a Ph.D. now an MS1, I found myself in the same boat as LSU grad. I stuck it out for the Ph.D. because that is where I wanted to be. My school has a written policy to not accept anyone enrolled in a graduate degree program unless they finish that degree. It's a money/politics issue.

    Geo
     
  8. I am in a grad program right now (finishing up the last leg of coursework and in a position to do either M.S. now or Ph.D. in a few years) and while I have gotten a number of interviews this time applying, I feel that I made a terrible mistake in indicating that I wouldn't complete a grad degree on my original AMCAS application (I wasn't sure at the time that I would; this is a very long story). I have no acceptances so far and feel that the lack of that M.S. is what is getting me tossed onto hold files and waiting lists. So now I am trying to finish the M.S. thesis by mid/late July and trying to get the paperwork out to the med schools to show that I can indeed finish it before the first year of med school commences. I'm hoping for the best but sure I will have to reapply again for the entering class of 2002. I feel like a complete tool for not knowing that I should have done this to begin with; it's a damn shame that no one told me this and that I didn't know who to ask (and at most schools I applied to there was no written policy regarding this, really!). I am more annoyed at myself than at anyone else however. Good thing there are people who are nice enough to post fairly accurate info on this board. best of luck to you in the application process!

     
  9. GeoLeoX

    GeoLeoX Ancient

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2000
    Messages:
    754
    Likes Received:
    1
    Status:
    Attending Physician
    Think of it this way: The medical school needs the basic sciences. They teach a good bit of the coursework and they bring in a lot of money for the school (your tuition is paltry in comparison). Therefore, the medical school must be sensitive to the needs of the basic science divisions. If they were to "steal" their students, it wouldn't be looked upon too kindly.

    Hope this helps,

    Geo

    ps. Everyone out there contemplating "hanging out" in a graduate program until you get into medical school (after all they pay you to get advanced coursework and research experience), Don't do it. You will be shooting yourself in the foot, that loophole has been closed for a long time. Go to grad school only if you are interested in graduate education.
     
  10. LSU grad

    LSU grad Junior Member

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2001
    Messages:
    21
    Likes Received:
    0
    A Ph.D. in a biological science would be a big asset I'm sure. I would think any Ph.D. to be an asset in this process, but due to the supposed "age bias" that many allopathic schools have, it could possibly work against you. Just having a Ph.D. might "age" you. I have found osteopathic schools to be much more open to the "non-traditional" background.

    Katie, I feel bad for you! It doesn't take much for the schools to toss aside people when they interview. The other candidates I have interviewed with have been outstanding across the board, so any uncertainty gives them a way to narrow things down. It really stinks! I will say a prayer for you. If you have to go through it again next year, give a definite timeline for your degree completion. I made the med-school decision too late to apply for the current year, and I didn't know what I would do for the year after my degree. My department needed someone to teach courses until they could fill a tenured position. I needed a job. I was able to be a full-time instructor for this school year. Salary, health insurance, and a 9-month job! It worked out great for me, and I just wanted to float the thought for you. There are always classes to teach.

    To reply to GeoLeoX, I admire your patience in completing your degree. Of course if you love what you are doing, it's not a big sacrifice. My 1st degree is in Motor Control and the 2nd is in Biomechanics. I love the knowledge aspect, but I was so frustrated with my lack of contact with people.

    You can spend years on a project, from conception to published paper, but you only work with the patients/subjects a few hours. On top of that, you are not able to diagose and treat them. The rest of your time is spent in front of the computer - programming and crunching numbers and writing.

    I love what I do, but I am so much more suited for the hands-on aspect of medicine. I love to teach and evaluate and design treatment and rehab. I am not a quitter - I am just in a big darn hurry to be a doctor!
     
  11. mschlesi

    mschlesi Junior Member

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2000
    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hi everyone,
    Here is more information on why I think it helped me!
    First, my department is part of the school of medicine. I have taught problem based learning in biochemistry to the first year medical students for four years!
    Since my lab is in the hospital I have had fantastic opportunities to attend seminars, interact with patients and meet lots of physicians. While in graduate school I taught community science to elementary school children and in national biology teaching workshops for highschool students, underrepresented minorities and teachers.
    Finally, my research experience from graduate school is great for medicine and I have tailored my applications to add medicine to my research career as an evolving part of my education towards a split clinical and research track as opposed to a career change.
    I think it is important that I applied to 15 schools, since clearly I was exactly what some schools were looking for and precisely not what other schools were looking for.
    Good luck everyone, I hope this is helpful.
    If you have more questions you can e-mail me directly at [email protected]
     
  12. biophysicsbadass

    biophysicsbadass Junior Member

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2001
    Messages:
    13
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hey guys!
    I seriously don't understand ad coms. I started my PhD and now want to do both. I want to start med school BEFORE finishing my PhD, and finish my PhD between 2nd and 3rd year of med school (like MSTP). So why does the ad com care about my stdent status so long as I plan to finish what i started and I have the blessing of my department to do so? I would love to do MSTP but most programs won't take people so long as they are enrolled in another PhD program with 2 yrs course work under their belt (which I would have). I also son't understand people having trouble with the MS and getting into med school, I don't see how its any different than applying from undergrad with a year to finish. If anything, MS programs are more structured and date of degree more reliable. What blows about this is I would have to switch myself to the MS just to apply to med school, and switch back afterwards! Has anyone in a PhD program said they were only doing a masters on their AMCAS to avoid this kind of BS?
     
  13. kris

    kris Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2001
    Messages:
    561
    Likes Received:
    0
    biophysics,

    I realize you're mostly venting, but I think geoleox, gower and I (on that other thread) have provided the main reasons that adcomms don't like to take grad students. I'm truly sorry it's not what you hoped for since you already started your grad program. It's pretty clear why mschlesi's experience is unique. (thanks mschlesi)

    As for why it's okay for undergrads to apply before they're done: I think it's because grad programs that are thesis-driven are an open question as far as finishing dates go. You can't just indicate that you need 6 more credits of x classes to be done. You write and edit until you're done, and progress can't really be measured by credit hours.

    Your next best move is to contact med schools directly to see what they think about your proposal to finish your PhD in the middle of med school. I've no experience in that area, and I don't know if they restrict that option to their MD/PhD students.

    good luck
    --Kris

    [This message has been edited by kris (edited March 22, 2001).]
     
  14. HomerJ

    HomerJ Senior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2001
    Messages:
    224
    Likes Received:
    0
    I was a PhD student in my second year when I applied to medical school. I was informed by all the schools that I needed to complete my degree before they could accept me. I decided to finish with a Masters degree and I was accepted to medical school in January. This is the rule most medical schools have. However, I know a person who did get accepted to medical school while being enrolled in a PhD program. The med school was the same school that she was enrolled at as a PhD student. Good Luck!
     
  15. GeoLeoX

    GeoLeoX Ancient

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2000
    Messages:
    754
    Likes Received:
    1
    Status:
    Attending Physician
    biophys,

    If you want to do both, DO BOTH. The timing shouldn't matter, finish your Ph.D. then go onto medical school. I actually would prefer to do it that way. By breaking up your M.D. training you will be losing a lot of your basic clinical skills that are absolutely necessary for your 3rd year.

    If this is a money issue, that is, if you want your M.D. paid for by the MSTP that's a whole nuther story. Like I said, that's a loophole that I think is pretty well glued shut.

    Also, I think that having a Ph.D. is actually a detriment. Adcoms see you (not correctly so, I might add) as someone who is not sure what they want to do, fishing for a new career. Spin it wisely.

    Hope this helps,

    Geo

    One more thing, A lot (LOT) of people in the MD/PhD are tempted to (and actually do) blow off the end of the Ph.D. research when it gets to be too much (and it inevitably does). I am not saying that you will, but the history of this could contribute to the reluctance of the school to change your status.

    [This message has been edited by GeoLeoX (edited March 23, 2001).]
     
  16. Thread continues after this sponsor message. SDN Members do not see this ad.

  17. Hey, at least the med schools told you directly that you needed to finish a degree before you could be accepted; none of the schools have been straight up with me so far. Oh, well, I am going to spend the next few months finishing my thesis and telling the med schools that I'm going to do it (and I will finish it). If it doesn't help this year, then maybe I'll have better luck applying for 2002. If that happens, I'll be a single 25-year-old female going to med school when I matriculate, which is unusual these days (most older students seem to be married and I just haven't been lucky in that department). in any case, good luck to the original poster and all those applying!
     
  18. biophysicsbadass

    biophysicsbadass Junior Member

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2001
    Messages:
    13
    Likes Received:
    0
    Homer you out there?
    I was just wondering if you applied as a PhD to med school then changed your status when they told you they wouldn't accept PhD's, or did you just tell them you would terminate at the Masters without officially changing your status? The reason I'm asking is because I would rather not go through the red tape if I don't have to (a lot of reasons, i.e. money, reapplication to my program..). Any specifics you could tell me from your experience would be very helpful. Thanks
     
  19. biophysicbadass

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2001
    Messages:
    34
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hi guys,
    I thought I'd breath some life into this thread because I have a new dilema, LSU grad and others feel free to respond. So after talking to adcoms and getting all your responses, I decided it would be best to just terminate at the masters. Problem is, the advisor who I am researching with won't take to kindly to this (I decided to terminate after working in his lab, before finding out he does not take any masters students under his wing because the masters is largely clinical, only PhD's). Although he's great, I am almost afraid to ask him for a research letter of rec when I terminate and apply. I don't think he'll write me one because he looks down on terminating. How do I explain this to adcoms? If I do MD/PhD I HAVE to have a good letter from him or I might as well kiss it goodbye. I could always apply MD and not ask him for a letter, but I don't want to neglet the fact that I did research through grad school on my app or in interviews. I am I just totally screwed? I don't know what to do or how to handle the situation, any advice is much appreciated.
     
  20. kutastha

    kutastha 2K Member
    Physician

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2001
    Messages:
    2,444
    Likes Received:
    5
    Status:
    Attending Physician
    Quite a bit of money is invested in PhD students, and your school expects you to finish when you enroll. In addition, it's no surprise your PI is not going to be pleased. He expected to have 4+ years of work on his project. Now you're leaving for medical school. The schools you apply to may not look kindly upon this. After two years in my PhD program I thought about this same prospect, but realized it was in my best long-term interests to finish the PhD.

    Most importantly, you say you need a letter from your PI for an MD/PhD program. You're already in a PhD program. Why risk burning bridges when you can finish your PhD, then apply for an MD? If time's a factor, the route you're in now will take as much time if you go for the MD, if not less. You mentioned you want to finish your PhD between your 2nd and 3rd years of MD. Why not just finish it now and apply in two years? Then you have your PhD, and won't break up your 2nd and 3rd years of med school.

    Andrew

     
  21. CoffeeCat

    CoffeeCat SDN Angel

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2001
    Messages:
    1,041
    Likes Received:
    0
    Status:
    Pre-Medical
    .
     
    #19 CoffeeCat, Jul 27, 2001
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2009
  22. kutastha

    kutastha 2K Member
    Physician

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2001
    Messages:
    2,444
    Likes Received:
    5
    Status:
    Attending Physician
    If you'll have the degree by the time you begin your MD, you'll be fine, especially with the class-based MPH program. It's the same as for people's applying before they graduate undergrad.

    Andrew
     
  23. I think a declared intention to finish your degree before the school commences is essential for admission. I am currently a 4th year grad student and I will defend in June 2002 and I am applying this year because my PI wrote me a very strong letter of recommendation and stated that he fully expect me to finish my degree within the next year. I also published about 5 papers so far, and 4 more manuscripts in preparation, and that should provide evidence to the adcom that I intend to finish my Ph.D. before matriculation at med school. Each situation is weighed different, and I think the adcoms are flexible as long as you show proof for your intent. I e-mailed many adcoms and no one seemed to dispute or express any doubt of my graduation in 2002. But I als knew grad students who applied to med school and still got in without finishing their Ph.D., and no clause was listed requiring them to finish the degree first in my school.
     
  24. Denilson

    Denilson Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2001
    Messages:
    117
    Likes Received:
    0
    as long as the adcom has confidence that you're finishing yoru ph.d. it's fine...i finished my fifth year now and i'm applying for 2002 class...my advisor was more than delighted that i choose to pursue a medical degree and gave his "blessings"...he wrote on his letter that i'll fully finish my degree by spring of 2002 too...we'll see how the process ends :) :rolleyes:
     
  25. gower

    gower 1K Member

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2000
    Messages:
    1,031
    Likes Received:
    0
    A central reason for expecting PhD and MA/MS to finish the degree is because they prefer people who finish what they start. There is a similar bias against applicants whose record shows TOO many twists and turns: changing majors more often than is common, changing colleges too often (UNLESS there is a clear and satisfactory explanation for it).
    Stick-to-it-iveness is a virtue; flitting from flower to flower is a virtue for bees and a necessity for the flower, but a bad sign in humans who want a medical education.

    The several other reasons have been addressed in the earlier posts, most of them evidence for a sense of responsibility.

    There are physicians who earn the PhD after the MD, not always in medically related areas. A former undergraduate student of mine became a working pediatrician but later earned a PhD in ornithology--systematics and evolution--while working part-time as a pediatrician. He published papers in avian systematics while continuing to have his medical practice.

    Until you are on the other side of the desk it is difficult to understand what seem now to be arbitrary, stupid, prejudicial, unnecessary, mean-spirited, call-it-what-you-will attitudes.
     
  26. biophysicbadass

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2001
    Messages:
    34
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hi all,
    this is to answer ajr's qeuation about why I don't just finish the PhD if i want to do one anyways. The program I am in is highly niched, I am doing the most biologically oriented research aspect my program offers (my program is medical engineering), but I am still very limited in terms or research I would actually LIKE to get my PhD in (cancer biology). So time is not necessarily the issue, I agree that career wise the best option would be for me to just finish the PhD, but its a long time for something your heart is not totally in. So my dilema still stands. I think I'm screwed if he won't wrote me a letter of rec, than again I have talked to some adcoms about my situation (just MD)
    and they said it is ridiculous to stick with something I'm not enjoying, that if he won't write me a letter of rec to get one from someone else who knows my research. That still seems scary to me though. I don't know what to do.
     
  27. Olsen

    Olsen Member

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2001
    Messages:
    57
    Likes Received:
    0
    Here is my 2 cents....

    I enrolled in a Ph.D. program as well and realized that I really wanted to be a physician. I was terrified of telling my advisor. The attitude towards medical school in my department is very very negative. I finally went to him and said, "Listen, I want to do this and if you ask me to leave I will but this is who I am." He wasn't ecstatic but he appreciated me coming to him. At first he was worried that it was a capricious sort of thing but I told him that I had volunteered, talked to physicians etc...and he said O.K.. He asked me to stay to finish up a project (and I suspect to try to hold on to me) and agreed to write me a letter of rec.. I don't think anyone who leaves their Ph.D. early is going to get a really great letter just because their advisor is going to be angry. I decided to take that risk.
     

Share This Page