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7+ Year Member
Mar 28, 2014
Houston, Texas
Status (Visible)
  1. Pre-Medical
Hello everyone,

I have been on this forum (and several other SDN forums) looking at past posts about MD-PhD programs and trying to figure out what path I can take in order to be a physician-scientist. I have known for a while (around junior year of college-I'm in my second gap year now) that I wanted to do the MD-PhD, but my undergrad career did not turn out the way I expected (low grades and taking ~6 years to graduate) due to difficulty figuring out how I learn and other issues. So now I am at a point where I am unsure if I even have a chance at an MD-PhD program or just abandon it and do the PhD-->MD route.

Low-income disabled URM with a BA in Neurolinguistics at Top 30 (AMCAS cum GPA: 3.23, science GPA 2.78). Strong upward trend last two years of undergrad (GPA 3.7+).
late 20s
5 years of research (4 in undergrad in two different labs (neurogenetics and psycholinguistics), 1 year full time in NIH behavioral neuro lab) + 2 years of full time (starting now until 2021) in a NIH-PREP program at an Ivy (working in a psych lab).
No MCAT yet
1 middle author pub in middle impact medical journal
3 posters (2 undergrad, 1 NIH) and senior thesis
30 hours of clinical volunteering + shadowing (from undergrad and brief stint at NIH Clinical Center)
~500 hours of non-clinical paid and unpaid volunteering in various different roles
Top university awards and scholarships
Leadership positions (2 president roles and 2 non-president roles)
Other ECs: musician, varsity debater

Research interests: cognition and language development in neurodevelopmental disorders, with strong interest in neuroimaging techniques. So I plan on getting a PhD in developmental psych or cognitive neuroscience, which does limit my MD-PhD choices.
Clinical interests: wanting to work with patients who have neurodevelopmental disorders, with emphasis on low-income and POC communities as there is not much support for these populations (health disparities). I would like to do a Med-Peds fellowship since I am interested in working with both children and adults.

Because I am at an Ivy that has a post-bac premedical program, I can apply to that program in order to raise my GPA up. If I fulfill the program's requirements with A's, I can raise my GPA to 3.35 (cum) and 3.05 (science). I also plan on applying to a couple of hospital, hospice, and outpatient clinic volunteer programs for my clinical requirements while continuing to mentor disabled youths in my area. While I just started my NIH-PREP program, I am hoping to get at least two posters out of this and cross fingers for a pub. I know with my stats that I would need to strive and work hard for a MCAT in the >90th percentile.

My ultimate career would be doing research majority of the time, teach classes (preferably based in the field of cognitive neuro/psych or on autism), and see patients.

The main question I have is:
With my stats (current and expected), do I have a chance at applying to MD-PhD programs for the summer 2021 cycle?

If there is no chance, my plan would just be to apply to MD programs after my PhD. I probably would finish my PhD in its entirety and apply for a postbac premed program that has some linkages so I could avoid spending more time away from medicine. The advantages I see with this option is that I can spend more time on getting a solid grad school app, spend more time volunteering, less initial stress/anxiety, and I can apply more broadly to MD programs since I do not have to worry if the MD-PhD program as the PhD I want.

Sorry if any of this is vague, I am trying to be as anonymous as possible. I am very much open to sharing more in PM if needed.
Would love to hear the opinions of @Fencer @QofQuimica as well.


5+ Year Member
Jan 7, 2015
Status (Visible)
  1. MD/PhD Student
Your GPA will be a challenge for sure, but I think you can make up some ground with a very strong MCAT. I would recommend you get an idea of what a realistic score for you is and go from there. Remember that the MD after PhD is a great way to get training but has its own hurdles and is often expensive enough to make a research career even harder down the road. Feel free to PM me if you want specific feedback.
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