applying for MSTP

Discussion in 'Physician Scientists' started by nina512, Nov 7, 2002.

  1. nina512

    nina512 Senior Member
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    After reading a few posts, I've decided to put my two cents in.

    I graduated two years ago, with a 3.2 GPA and I've been working in a lab since. During that time, I was able to get two abstracts and first author a paper, referenced as a manuscript in progress by another paper recently published. I decided to aim for MSTP programs, so I took my MCAT this past April and got a 30. (I thought that was decent for being out of school for 2 years)

    I know my GPA and MCAT are low for most MSTP programs, but with my research experience, I think I'll still be competitive. Also, I have letters of rec from my boss and other faculty members. An added bonus is that my recommenders conduct MSTP/MD school interviews.

    What I'm getting at is that it doesn't hurt to try, right? Some schools have a set criteria for their MSTP applicants, while others are more flexible and make their decisions on an individual basis. My advice is to go for it. Snag a couple of interviews and let your enthusiasm for science and sensitivity towards others shine through. I just sent my secondaries in so we'll see if I can get anyone to call me back. Not everyone has the perfect stats and I hope this makes others feel better.
     
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  3. Andrew_Doan

    Andrew_Doan Doc, Author, Entrepreneur
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    Good luck and let us know how you do!
     
  4. isidella

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    I commend you Nina, thank you for posting. I believe with all sincerity that numbers are secondary to MD/PhD applications and that a true commitment to translational research is what matters most. I may be wrong about that (I say this while staring at my freshly framed Yale and Uwash rejection letters.) I applied to 17 total, one acceptance where I was considered a "shoe-in" since I work in the lab of an ad-com member (and it kind of hurt when I first heard it, but since everyone thinks it, I guess I am.) I have an interview at Uconn coming up, and it is the only thing that is keeping me sane in this process.

    My numbers are competitive for MSTP, 3.8 GPA, 33 MCAT (after an april foul-up that may bite me in the ass). Volunteering and guitar are second only to my true love of research. I have five years of bench experience under my belt, with five peer reviewed publications, all second or third author. I have given talks at national meetings and have taught as a supplemental instructor at my undergrad college. I know my research well enough to discuss it casually or at length at any given time. I have an instinct about scientific discovery, and I have helped jaded professors out of roadblocks in their research.

    My clinical experience includes being a triage assistant in my student health clinic, being the sole author or my campuses health newsletter, volunteering for five years as a summer camp counselor for the MDA, providing the total care for my mother's terminal battle with cancer, volunteering as the evening companion/nutrition assistant on the med-onc ward of MUSC, and serving as the patient recruiter for pilot studies at my local cancer center.

    My letters of recomendation are stellar as well.

    So now I am thinking, what the hell is wrong with me? So my first set of MCAT scores were off, but my second set shows that it was a fluke. Maybe they didn't like my publications, are there too many, is it too hard to teach an old dog? Were my essays bad? But they were read and edited by residents, post-docs, attendings, basically everyone I work with. . . Have I had too much research experience? Maybe the fluency at classical guitar scares them. . . Maybe I am too old. . . Maybe they prefer 12 year olds ;)

    I just don't know nina. I don't want to stay here and be a shoe-in. My dream was to go to Yale, where the research I want to contrubute to is being performed. I was so crazy about Yale I hitch-hiked up there when I was 16 just to hang out on campus, to poke my heads in the labs. I just felt like I belonged there and that they would want me too. So much for that idea. . .

    I am sorry for being a downer guys, but I am down. . . :(
    Regardless, I wish you all the best of luck.
    Isid
     
  5. Sonya

    Sonya Senior Member
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    Hey Isidella,

    You sound like a very strong applicant. I'm sorry you didn't get into yale. Really, you can never tell with schools like that, is my only guess. Why exactly did you want yale (besides you always dreamed of it). Was it one particular research group? or was a research area of yale's strength your interest? because, i find it hard to believe you wont find that reasearch area else where. I'm sure y ou'll get into some other great school. And hopefully, ten years from now, you'll be glad you went there instead (that's what i feel for undergrad, i'm darn glad Hopkins rejected me, and I Duke would hardly consider my transfer applicant). Actually, i don't know a lot, b ut while yale is great school, i didn't find them to be an extremely strong research institute.
    Too much research can't hurt.

    Nina, It can't hurt to try. But, do schools have cutoff GPAs? Find out about that for top ones you apply to.

    Good Luck
     
  6. laccase

    laccase Junior Member

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    hey isidella, you had five publications already?! did you graduate some time ago? otherwise how did you manage to be so productive during your undergrad? what field and type of research did you do if you don't mind telling us? I find it hard to believe that some schools rejected you with your qualifications.

    cheers,
     
  7. isidella

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    Sonya,

    Thanks for the kindness. Actually, there have been some papers coming out of Yale about a particular oncogene that I am interested in. Sure other places have this sort of thing going on, but Yale was where the bulk of the discovery was done.

    laccase,
    I had two pubs in molecular phylogenetic as an undergrad (I did a bachelor's thesis). I took two years off as a post-bacc to do research, I am finishing up my final year now. I ended up in a publish-happy lab and have co-authored three papers about cancer genomics/molecular detection of micromets. There are also several more papers in the works.

    Nina,
    I am sorry I took over your thread. Keep your chin up and keep us posted about your apps. :)
     
  8. nina512

    nina512 Senior Member
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    Isidella

    Your credentials are awesome, and I agree with Sonya. You may have placed a strong sentimental value on Yale, and there's nothing wrong with it being your dream school. However, if there is a research field that you want, it's very likely that the group at Yale collaborates with other groups at equally distinctive schools, which you probably have applied to.

    with my stats, I chose my schools very carefully, and I steered clear from the top 10 schools. Hey, who am I kidding. I messed up during undergrad, and I have to pay the price. I just don't think that my undergrad GPA (or those four years of my life) should limit my goals and aspirations. I'm lucky in that I work at a strong research school with lots of funding, which is where I'll likely get accepted. It is actually my top choice. Fortunately, the school tends to be rather flexible with their MSTP admissions criteria and is more accepting of non-traditional applicants (ie, older) That is what I looked for in the schools I applied. It is nice to know that there would be other "non-traditional" students in the class.

    As tupac says, "keep your head up" Isi. I know it's cliche, but things could be worse. YOu've accomplished a lot already, and I wouldn't let the adcom peeps at Yale discourage you.:D
     
  9. exigente chica

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    Isid,
    Ohh my gosh!! Girl you are the bomb! THose schools lost out big time by not accepting you, what were they thinking:confused:

    Keep your head up, u rock and we know it:clap:
    I hope u get some good news soon.
     
  10. exigente chica

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    I too am kinda torubled and worried about this whole process as well now, u really never know. Like in Isid's case, do they penalize you for having done too much?:rolleyes:
     
  11. tuckp

    tuckp Junior Member
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    Nina,

    I think you're right on track. Like you, I don't have the "stellar" marks -- 3.6, 31, and an M on the writing that I hope no one notices. I personally have friends who started MSTPs in the last year and two years ago, with numbers that were lower than either of us. We're such a self-selecting group anyway. I mean really, who in their right mind signs up for 6-9 years of school?

    Isid, don't give up! I'm on the hiring committee for my current employer, and if there's anything I've learned, it's always always a crap-shoot. Sorry, that probably didn't make you feel better, did it? :(

    ~Tuck
     
  12. CaNEM

    CaNEM Senior Member
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    Welcome to the boards, tuckp. We look forward to hearing your perspective.
     
  13. tuckp

    tuckp Junior Member
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    Thanks!:)
     
  14. nina512

    nina512 Senior Member
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    tuckp,

    don't feel bad, I got an M on writing too! I scored well in verbal, so at least they know I can read

    I'm begging that they overlook it.

    exigente chica,
    I don't think that adcoms penalize for someone for having done too much, especially if it was done over a reasonable period of time. If it was done in a short period of time, they might question the "quality" of each experience.

    For example, say someone graduates with a 4.0, fed the poor in Ethiopia, helped research a cure for cancer, spent 1000+ hours shadowing physicians all within 2 years. Adcoms would think, "Hmmm, last I checked, there was only 24 hours in a day."

    It's a unknown process. My friend was an awesome applicant. She did a thesis, got published, had a 4.0, a ton of ECs, and did so well on the MCAT that Kaplan hired her to teach prep classes. Yeah, she got rejected from harvard, but was accepted to hopkins and duke (with a scholarship).

    The important point is that she was accepted. Maybe not by harvard, but the schools she was accepted at are just as reputable.

    It is a crap shoot. If I don't get in, hopefully I can recover from the cost of applying this year when the time comes to re-apply next year. :p
     
  15. isidella

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    Nina,

    You have an awesome attitude. :clap: I am so glad you started this thread. I know the doubt behind the MD/PhD application process has been dissected before, but it is good to be a part of it now. It is a crap shoot, that is my new answer for "How is it going?" I applied a little later than most of the MSTPers who are getting interviewed right now. Did you as well?.

    If you don't mind me asking, what is your top choice and why. . .

    Randomness I have discovered in my process: Call the MSTP offices where you applied after your app is complete (I got both of my interviews over the phone when I called to check on my status). Except don't call Hopkins if you applied-Dragon Lady mans the phones, she almost burnt my ear off. :laugh:

    Isid
     
  16. nina512

    nina512 Senior Member
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    Well, I only turned in my secondaries a week ago (talk about late!)

    Also I'm not sure if all my LORs have been sent. I'm thinking of sending each of them a box of gourmet hot coco as a thank you. More like, "hint, hint, if you did not send them yet, I hope the coco makes you feel guilty for not sending them every night you drink the coco before bed!" :mad:

    I'm from Ohio and I'd like to stick around. Plus, the standard of living is so low around here. I share a 1000sqft apt with one person and only pay $400/month. And there's two full baths...ahhh luxury.

    so...CWRU is #1. U of Cincinnati is #2, then Ohio State is #3, but I only applied for the MD program there.

    I work at Case, so it's my best bet. Also, Case is one of those schools who are flexible on ad-criteria and emphasize how each app is reviewed on an individual basis. Check the FAQ section on their web site.

    Oh pleeeeze let me get in....where's my damn rosary....how does the hail mary go again????? Maybe I should go to church today...hmmmmm, maybe not lightning might strike!!! Ugh, waiting sucks!:D
     
  17. surge

    surge Medicinski Znanstvenik
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    crap shoot. no other way to explain it.
    i'm very sorry, isidella.
    i spent the summer at yale, and believe me, it's their loss.
    good luck. S.
     
  18. surge

    surge Medicinski Znanstvenik
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    BTW, out of curiosity....
    was it pre-interview? It sounds like it was...?

    Thanks, S.
     
  19. isidella

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    Yes it was, pre-interview.
     
  20. sluox

    Physician 10+ Year Member

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    I think MSTP, if anything, is more stat intense than MD admissions. My stats are ~ average for MSTP applicants, perhaps slightly lower than average than the very top students, and yet I can't get a lot of the interviews from top 10 schools, Hopkins and Yale for example. At certain schools, I think, without a 3.8 GPA they will reject you first round, regardless of the difficulty of your undergraduate cirriculum as well as your research experience. (There are probably similiar cutoffs for MCATs that I am not aware of.)

    This makes sense. Consider this, MSTP applicants are probably some of the best students out there. When you have a lot people who has 3.9 and 39 AS WELL AS a bunch of articles lined up to be published while he/she was only a JUNIOR in college...The length and strength of the research activities probably have to do with how long you've been doing research AFTER college.

    Is this form of evaluation fair? It is unclear. I don't think it necessarily matters which program that you are getting into, but it could matter tremendously if the school you are going is strong in the particular subject area that you are interested in. Strictly speaking from a scientific standpoint, really great students don't necessarily make the very best researchers. So if one thinks he/she has sufficient creativity in doing research and making the next B-I-G discovery, i think one should not concern so much about competing with the high calibre regular medical school (as well as MSTP) applicants.

    The punchline is this: I think ideal MSTP admissions should be more like graduate school admissions, but in actuality it is more like med school admissions than graduate school admissions, which, for me, sucks ass. :D
     
  21. jot

    jot

    this is completely false man! even if you were going for hyperbole - mstp committees have te luxury of much fewer application than the med school side, and definately look at them closer. they are looking for creativity as well as high achievement, but since they know we are coming to them to learn, it isn't requisite to maximize both - they are just interested if the raw material is there (slightly polished helps ;)).

    as a matte of fairness - you are right, high grades don't=good researchers - but since there has to be a high degree of selection (limited # of seats), they are initially limited by what someone looks like on paper - but from the students i've seen at mstp programs, and the track record most programs have - they do a reasonably good job.
     
  22. sluox

    Physician 10+ Year Member

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    Don't worrry, I'm just bitter. :laugh: Though, take a look at your two paragraphs. You say first that "it isn't a requisite to maximize both (i.e. grades and "creativity", however nebulous)", but then in the second paragraph you say "they are initially limited by what someone looks on paper (i.e. grades)" and by the high applicant/seat ratio. Which is my original point exactly.

    The second point is this, there is no solid evidence either way as far as whether certain schools have GPA/MCAT cut offs either way. I know for certain that med schools have these cutoffs. Now is it more or less likely that MSTP has these cutoffs? Perhaps less likely. But at a school like UCSF, where MSTP admission is part of the med school admission, cutoffs are probably there. My suggestion? Apply apply and apply some more. Apply to schools you like, apply to schools you think is highly reputable, apply to schools that has good reserach. Life is like a box of chocalate.

    Now, the third point is that...
    wait, is there a third point??

     
  23. ktran

    ktran Member
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    If you guys want to mention about low stats for MD/PhD program then, my stats should be mentioned.
    So far I have two MD/PhD interviews scheduled at UVM and Drexel.
    MCAT 8V, 10P, 9B , O ( English as second language).
    Ungrd GPA 3.45 ( 4.0 for the last two years) from a state school.
    4 years of research in genomics. 3 publications as second author and 2 posters presented at the
    international conferences.

    My friend last year got in the MD/PhD program with even lower GPA and slightly higher MCAT.
    For those who are in the lower end of the spectrum, don't be discouraged. The admission process is very subjective and you will not know exactly what each school is looking for in any particular year.
    Believe in yourself and you will get a few interviews to show the schools your passion for medicine and science.

    Cheers and Happy Holidays to all.
     
  24. nina512

    nina512 Senior Member
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    thanks ktran

    that info will help me smile through the holiday season. I haven't heard anything from anyone except a hold for interview at case, which bummed me out because that's where I thought I had the best chances. With that mind set, and the fact that I haven't heard from any schools, has discouraged me very much.

    thanks for your post. I won't lose hope yet!:)
     
  25. exigente chica

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    Wow, That is very comforting news. Thank-you very much for posting that.:clap:

    Happy Holidays to Everyone and Good Luck!!
     

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