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apply now with masters or wait for PhD?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by biophysicbadass, Jun 9, 2002.

  1. biophysicbadass

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    Hi Guys,
    OK, I really need some advice. I really want to go to either Cornell, NYU, Sinai, or Columbia. I'm a non-tradiational applicant, I realized over the last year and a half I want to do academic medicine. Here's a breakdown on me:
    '94-'99: BS Physics, Physiological Sciences UCLA
    Total GPA: 3.1
    I worked full time for the first 3.5 yrs and had a GPA of about 2.7, after that GPA 3.85 to graduation. Published research, Volunteer at County Hospital ER
    '99-'00: Worked as a Banking Consultant
    '00-present: Grad student in biomedical Physics, UCLA. GPA: 3.85
    MCAT: 11V, 13P, 13B R
    Volunteered in Africa, been a physics TA at UCLA for one year, grad research.

    I am debating whether to terminate with a masters and work as an SRA for the next year, or try and finish a PhD (even though I am not that into the research my program offers but it is tolerable) in two years so I can apply for 2004 class. If I have a shot at any of these schools I really want to apply, if not I'll stay to PhD. Although I'm not sure how much a PhD would improve my application, if only marginally maybe its not worth it. I have to decide soon, I could use some two cents from you all. Thanks
     
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  3. smid

    smid Member

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    You sound like me 2 years ago!
    I was in the physics PhD program at Berkeley and left with my Master's. Spent a year in Management Consulting and now the last year I took all my bio courses and the MCAT. Am applying now to Med School (for 2003).

    Here's my opinion:

    If you are wanting to do academic medicine, then I don't see why you don't just finish the PhD in Biophysics and become a professor. Seems almost pointless to go to medical school unmless you want to do clinical research or switch to another area of research. IT sounds like what you're studying is pretty medically related (or can be if you choose the right projects/research advisor).

    Anyway, if you DO want to be a doctor and see patients and all of that good stuff, then I don't see why you don't just apply now. Unless, of course, you love your research group and the research and would really miss it if you left. I can tell you this much: I miss physics (which is why I continue to teach it and to date a physicist) and I miss the people that study it. I can say this to you because you study physics. Physicists have a unique way of looking at the world that biologists don't have.

    Anyway, feel free to ask if you ahve more questions.
     
  4. kutastha

    kutastha 2K Member
    Physician

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    I always give the advice that you should finish what you start, and med schools most likely would prefer you do as well. If you decide to drop out, you should know it will be a red flag. And that it's going to be something you're going to have to explicitly explain in your personal statement and interviews. In addition, schools spend a lot of money on you as a PhD student, and expect that you will complete your work. This is a pretty big decision, and you should have a better reason to drop out of a PhD program than "I just wanted to go to medical school earlier".
     
  5. smid

    smid Member

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    Well, I don't know "kut's" experience, but to me it seems like a waste of time just to finish what you start. Especially since a physics PhD usually takes a minimum of 4.5 years, usually more if you are experimental.

    If you love what you are doing, then finish. If you hate it, then quit. A Master's in physics is nothing to sneeze at, and following your dream to be a doctor is admirable. For me, it was really hard to quit (but I secured an excellent job before quitting to fell better about it). IT's a matter of where you want to be in 10 years. I didn't want to finish my PhD because it would mean 3 more years of lab work before even getting to apply to med school...etc. I want to be a doctor before I'm old enough to retire!

    Maybe talk to your advisor about it and see what they think. Only you can decide where you'll be happiest. If you will look back and wish you finished, then don't quit.
     
  6. imtiaz

    imtiaz i cant translate stupid
    Moderator Emeritus

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    i agree with kutastha. you are enrolled as a PhD seeking student and the implications of leaving the program now would be disastrous. if you wanted a masters, you shouldve enrolled as a masters student. will your advisor be OK with you leaving? ive heard of people's acceptances being rescinded because of phone calls from advisors and PhD program directors. med schools dont poach students, plain and simple. its possible for you to get in, sure, but you will need a masters degree OR your advisor/program director needs to write a letter saying they are OK with you leaving or else youll have a pretty big black mark on your record for good. the issue isnt whether or not you will get in, cause with your stats your chances are excellent. its what happens after you get in thats the issue. good luck to you!
     
  7. biophysicbadass

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    Hi guys,
    my program is biomedical physics. My masters is in medical physics but my PhD work would be in radiation biology, a field I really don't care too much for. I thought this graduate program would be a good fusion given my background, but it turns out I don't like the medical physics research (its more engineering and coding all day which I find passionless), what I really want to do is cancer biology, and I would be settling for radiation biology as dissertation work. Anyways, schools won't necessarily know I am a PhD student unless I tell them, the masters is geared for a job as a clinical physicist and my program is OK with me getting either a masters or PhD or both, so that's not an issue. What is the issue is that I need to decide whether or not my stats will pass the mustard for MD/PhD programs at the aforementioned institutions (or just MD). I also need to decide if having my PhD will make that much of a difference, if yes then I will gut it out even though my heart's not in it. If not I'll terminate and take my chances. This is the dilema I could use some advice on. Thanks
     
  8. kutastha

    kutastha 2K Member
    Physician

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    </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by smid:
    <strong>Well, I don't know "kut's" experience, but to me it seems like a waste of time just to finish what you start. Especially since a physics PhD usually takes a minimum of 4.5 years, usually more if you are experimental.</strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">"Kut's" experience is that he's a fifth-year PhD student who's defending this month, attending medical school in the fall, and went through a similar situation three years ago. At no point did I 'waste my time'.

    I thought about this route two years into my PhD. I asked around, spoke to a handful of faculty members and the answer I gave you was the answer you gave me. The typical scenario was that a committee will see that you're in a PhD program and that you're coming out of it for a Masters instead. They will question, "Why is he dropping out now? Was he not interested in PhD work? Then why did he apply? Is he sure then that he wants to go to medical school? Will he do the same thing in medical school?" That's a red flag, and a big one to boot.

    biophys, are you enrolled as a Master's student? If you are in a PhD program, it's most likely listed on your transcript. Why not switch departments or do a different project and finish your PhD, since you're gearing toward an MD/PhD anyways? It's a lot to think about, and you do risk burning a couple of bridges that may come back to haunt you if you drop out.
     
  9. watto

    watto Sleek White Pantsuit

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    Smid, do I know you? Are you going to the U of MN in August?
     
  10. GuitarMan

    GuitarMan Guitarman for President

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    BPBadass,

    The stat's you've listed look really good. I don't really know anything about admissions requirements at the schools you listed, but most of your stats look very competitive. The biggest weakness is the undergrad GPA, but I've heard CA schools are notoriously hard on the GPA, so the adcom's will probably take this into consideration.

    I was previously in a Ph.D. program in clinical psychology and left after finishing a masters to go to medical school. I disagree with the idea leaving early will make you look questionable or that it will be a major blemish on your record. People often change their mind after starting down a chosen path. In fact, in social psychology, the fallacy some previous posters are making is called "committment and consistency". The notion that there is something wrong with a person that doesn't remain committed to a path they previously chose.

    I applied to med school for this coming fall. I only applied to four schools because I need to stay in Chicago. I addressed my career change in my personal statement. Of the four schools, I have been accepted to two, rejected at one, and waitlisted at the third (Pritzker). Nobody thought I was strange for making a career change.
     
  11. biophysicbadass

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    Hey guys,
    I agree with guitarman. I actually talked to the MSTP deann at Sinai and told her my situation, that I didn't want to red flagged but I am unhappy in my program and plan to terminate. she said it wasn't a big deal, that I could explain the situation in interview and as long as I would have some kind of degree before matriculation and the blessing of my department that wouldn't be a factor. Also, UCLA does not list degree objectives in transcripts, my PI and I both agreed that if I am going to do this I should not confuse everyone by putting PhD and just keep it masters on my app. since there is no point in creating a bigger mess then there has to be. Also, I'm a female by the way, I noticed someone referring to me as he, just wanted to make the correction. Anyways, my issue is not the whole red flag PhD student thing. My issue is am I competitve enough for these schools without my PhD? I apreciate the nice stats comments, but its my undergrad GPA I'm worried about. Those issues were a long time ago and circumstantial, but could it seriously hurt me at these places? I wish I knew, maybe I should just suck it up and go for it. Decisions, decisions.........
     
  12. trout

    trout Senior Member

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    I wouldn't be as worried what shows up on your transcript versus what your letters of recommendations say. I know from the phd program I was in (or masters) that if you did not finish your degree program they would not recommend you for medical school. You will need more than just one letter from your mentor. I was also a undergrad/female/engineer which seemed to impress people. I guess I would also have to say is you need to tie all your experiences together...find some unifying reason why you have taken this path...plus the phd will help you into getting into a competitive residency as well as a competitive oncology fellowship.

    My other advice, is the 4 schools you are looking at are very research intensive, so if you have any publications (first author) that will help. If staying to get the phd will help this aspect of your application than it may be worth it...I orginally went into graduate school only wanting to get a masters with no interest in medical school, they convinced me to stay one more year (which ended up 2) to get the phd and I can't say I ever regreted a day of it. My stats are pretty similar to yours (although GPAs were higher), but I really felt like the 2 I interviewed were more interested in the diverstity of your background which you seem to have....I got interview offers at all 4 (interviewed at 2) and got into both and will be going to P&S next year....I have to admit my interviewer (who was extremely impressive himself) commented he was impressed with my phd work....so I would recommend spending the extra time, because there is an enormous difference in respect between ms and phd degrees (and an enormous amount of time and energy spent) Pm me if you want any more details!
    Personally now, if you are thinking about an MSTP program, I would finish the phd some of these programs can run 10+ years (I meet a couple at yale) even though it looks like financially a better deal, you really are cutting out 6 years of potential earnings, plus now some fellowship programs have loan repayment offers....
     
  13. biophysicbadass

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    Hey trout,
    thanks for your input. Was your PhD in engineering? I don't know what to do. If I stayed for a PhD it would simply be a means to an end, therefore if I have any chance at all it seems worth it to me to apply. If I thought I would even get an interview at any of these places I would probably apply. There are of course numbers snobs like Cornell, but it seems to me that Sinai is really interested in each candidate as opposed to just their numbers. What was your impression of Columbia? Did you interview at NYU?
     

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