Haybrant

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Anyone that is research heavy have an interviewer ask you why you are not pursuing an md/phd? Im pretty worried about this question esp. b.c i plan on researching during med school. I have solid reasons for why I want to pursue an MD but on the flip side of the coin i dont have a confident answer about why NOT an md/phd or just a phd.
 

lightnk102

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I told the interviewer that I'm still very interested in research, but that at this point in my life, I'm more interested in pursuing the clinical aspects of medicine. But that I'm hoping to continue some research on the side while I'm attaining my MD. (insert part here about how you admire the strong research background the medical school has, and how its important to you that a medical school has both strong clinical exposure as well as a strong research background).

Most interviewers have accepted that answer, though one interviewer insisted on printing out the MD/PhD application for me and gave it to me on my way out.

I have found that it tends to be exclusively PhD's who ask me this question.
 

dmoney41

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take a year off after the second year to do research and keeping an open mind about applying for the MD-PhD program at that time
I've never heard of this one. Is it something that most MSTP schools consider allowing?
 

docwannabe2

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oh yeah... i got this question from one particularly research heavy school... I was honest in my reply that although I thought it was important to experience research early on in my education, I had decided through that experience that research was not the career path that I wanted, and I needed something more directly patient care oriented. The interviewer replied with "so you did research exclusively for your medical school application?" I repeated "no... I had to experience research in order to decide whether or not like LIKED it" (more eloquent than that, but you get my drift). He still didn't believe me. Ended up on the waitlist. Then I withrdrew out of spite after getting into a higher ranked school. Shallow, but true... ;)
 

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Haybrant said:
Anyone that is research heavy have an interviewer ask you why you are not pursuing an md/phd? Im pretty worried about this question esp. b.c i plan on researching during med school. I have solid reasons for why I want to pursue an MD but on the flip side of the coin i dont have a confident answer about why NOT an md/phd or just a phd.
I got a question like this at my second interview, although I have only had two interviews so far. My interviewer said (after making small talk for approximately 30 seconds), "The question you are going to invariably be asked is, 'Why medicine, apart from the science?'" (I had taken a year off to do research because I was torn by the MD vs. PhD decision and was relatively sure I did not want to pursue a dual degree.) When responding, I qouted straight from my personal statement (fortunately, I was being genuine and therefore maintained a straight-face, because I would have sounded incredibly cheesy otherwise), and my interviewer replied, "I like that" and proceeded to write down what I had just said. I think he thought I was really clever :p. I hope he doesn't read my personal statment before writing his evaluation ;). Because the interview lasted only 15 minutes, I couldn't help but wonder if my interviewer sought only to glean one or two things about me. In any case, it's brevity made it very difficult to read.
 

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I want to stay in academic medicine and do research but I did NOT apply to Md/Phd because the timing is all off. you do your research in the middle of your medical training. which means you won't have much background to decide what you want to go into. also, when you get your MD, you will have been out of the lab for 2 years. that's a lifetime. tell them this: I am interested in doing research (either clinical or basic) but I think it would be wiser to first get my medical training, and THEN find a field I think is interesting. after your residency you can get a Phd if you think you need it, a better plan would be a fellowship.
 

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RunMimi said:
I got this question all the freaking time! I was honest in saying that I had a real struggle in deciding between the two choices. I ultimately decided on the MD path at this point with the intention to take a year off after the second year to do research and keeping an open mind about applying for the MD-PhD program at that time. I also spoke of my goal to have both a clinical and a research career in an academic center. We'll see how they liked that... My favorite schools all arrive in March!

Penn? I loooooooved Penn. They've risen to #1 spot on my list. Quite glad I decided to attend the interview.
 

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GuyLaroche said:
Penn? I loooooooved Penn. They've risen to #1 spot on my list. Quite glad I decided to attend the interview.
Penn over <gasp> Harvard? How could this happen?

Seriously though, GuyL, anything in particular change your mind?
 

Ambs

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I got this question at U Wisc-Madison. I basically just said that I don't want to devote my entire professional career to research, and I am very interested in being a clinician engaged in some (but not competely consuming) research. I then went on some random tangent, commenting on how I would love to teach also, and afterwards I summed it up by saying that if I was within a medical academic center, I could do research, teach, and practice all at the same time with my MD.

I don't think it was the best/most coherent answer, but I was accepted! :D
 

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When I student interview and I see an applicant with plenty of research, I always ask this question. What I'm thinking is: If you loved research in undergrad so much, why don't you want to continue? An acceptable answer is "I don't want to commit to doing research 90% of the time in my career like the MD/PhD program wants me to." or something like that. I'm less thrilled about the time commitment answers, as you're in it for the long haul anyways if you're going into academics.

Quite honestly, since the MD/PhD programs are expanding, getting an MD and doing basic science research is getting rarer. With the graduating debt load of MDs, nobody expects them to go make peanuts doing research. In many cases I try to talk to the applicants to let them know about the current issues in MD vs MD/PhD training when it comes to research.

I've seen a few applicants over the years with great applications who have had a hard time getting into medical school because they were very focused on research and didn't apply MD/PhD. I think this has to do with two factors. First, some adcoms believe that those interested in doing research primarily should not be in MD programs anymore. Second, some applicants have tons of research and very little else on their application. While the MD/PhD program is fine with this, MD programs want to see more diversity. As for the people I know, they sometimes didn't get in at all, and in other cases ended up at lower-tier programs when I thought their MD/PhD application would have put them into the top-tier.

Now, this isn't meant to scare any of you. If there's more on your application than research, don't worry about it. Make sure you have sound reasons for not applying MD/PhD if you get asked that question. If you want to talk about it some more, I'm always happy to. Everyone knows that MD/PhD isn't right for everyone. For the interested, here's an article entitled "The role of medical school admissions committees in the decline of physician-scientists." http://www.jci.org/cgi/content/full/111/6/765 (Also check out the replies http://www.jci.org/cgi/eletters/111/6/765--very interesting)
 

QofQuimica

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Hmm, this thread is very interesting; I think that you will be asked these types of questions regardless of which direction you are coming from with regard to doing medical research. I will already have my PhD, and so I'm expecting to be asked why I want to get an MD now, since I can already do research with a PhD. lol.
 
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Haybrant

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thanks for the excellent replies; I must say I am pretty worried now b.c my application is research heavy and i even wrote updates to schools about my research publications which I thought was a good thing, but now im having second thoughts; i was summarily rejected from a handful of them
 

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Haybrant said:
thanks for the excellent replies; I must say I am pretty worried now b.c my application is research heavy and i even wrote updates to schools about my research publications which I thought was a good thing, but now im having second thoughts; i was summarily rejected from a handful of them
I also have a lot of research experiences but I used them to explain how they helped lead me to a decision to practice medicine and how my experiences in research will help me as a doctor. As long as you have some clinical experience, it shouldn't hurt you. I was also asked in several interviews why I was not going for the dual degree. I explained that I had spoken to many people about it and that I learned I could do the type of research that I want to do (public health/epidemiology) as a M.D./MPH (I'll have the MPH in May). I know someone mentioned that the time commitment is not as convincing of a reason but think about it this way. 4 years of med school plus 3-5 years for the Ph.D. plus 3-5 years residency would put me as a 24 year old anywhere from 34-38 years old by the time I'd be ready to get a real job. This would not be acceptable for people that want a family and a real life some day. The point is, the time committment concerns are valid and they didn't seem to hurt me. Best of luck.
 

nina512

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I too was asked this question because I'm very research heavy.

Here's how I reply... I don't deny my strong interest in research. Then I go into how research has prepared me for medical school and how research would make me a better physician (blah, blah, blah). And as an aside, I also comment that if I was 5 years younger, MD/PhD would be an option, however, being a 27 y/o female that wants to start a family, it's not in line with my biological clock...(stated more eloquently and tactfully, of course!)

I also try to emphasize any volunteer/personal experiences I've had, rather than dwell on research. You want to let the interviewer see beyond the lab-rat facade and come to the conclusion that you're a well-adjusted people person in a addition to having a curious mind.

I hope this strategy works...I haven't heard anything yet...
 

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nina512 said:
And as an aside, I also comment that if I was 5 years younger, MD/PhD would be an option, however, being a 27 y/o female that wants to start a family, it's not in line with my biological clock...(stated more eloquently and tactfully, of course!)

Nowadays, even this is no longer a "good" excuse because there are too mnay women like myself who haven't allowed biology to rule our careers. If you really want the MD/PhD, go for it!! There's no rule that says you have to put your life on hold.
 

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I was asked this at my first interview, which was at a highly ranked research school. I simply said that you don't need a PhD to do research, and my interviewer commented that it was the most educated answer he's heard. Later on in the interview I find out that he's the head of the dept that coordinates research opportunities for medical students. FYI, he is a MD who does research.
 

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I've got alot of research experience and seriously looked into the MD/PhD route, but from what i've seen MD/PhDs are trained/expected to do wetbench type research. I overwhelmingly feel like my strengths and interests lie more in engineering than in pure lab research. Instead of running a lab, my career goals would be to complete some sort of residency and move into product development/research. For instance, I could see myself going into surgery and then working on robotic surgery techniques, laser surgery, etc. It doesn't seem like the MD/PhD programs are aimed at training these types, but please correct me if I'm wrong or if adcoms wouldn't think highly of this response.