PTPoeny

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Okay, so here is my dilema. I got into an MD/Phd program that I kinda like. I didn't get into the MD/PhD program at the school that I really loved the curriculum, and found two different labs that really interested me and both researchers expressed interest in me.

I guess I'm asking should I risk it at the school I didn't get into the MD/PhD program and try applying after my first year? I already talked to the program director and they would help me set up lab rotations before M1, so I wouldn't be behind. But it becomes a big difference if I dont make it and I'm there for 7 years with no guaranteed funding. (I assume I would get some during the PhD years just like a normal graduate student)
 

paramus

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mdpdgirl said:
Okay, so here is my dilema. I got into an MD/Phd program that I kinda like. I didn't get into the MD/PhD program at the school that I really loved the curriculum, and found two different labs that really interested me and both researchers expressed interest in me.

I guess I'm asking should I risk it at the school I didn't get into the MD/PhD program and try applying after my first year? I already talked to the program director and they would help me set up lab rotations before M1, so I wouldn't be behind. But it becomes a big difference if I dont make it and I'm there for 7 years with no guaranteed funding. (I assume I would get some during the PhD years just like a normal graduate student)
I think it really depends on how much you like the respective schools. We're pretty much in the same boat right now. Have you heard from every school you applied to?

I guess my feeling is that if I have the choice between MD/PhD at a school I'm iffy about versus MD at a school I love, I'm leaning toward MD at the school I love. If I were to do that, I would probably forget about the PhD, do a couple of postdocs and try to take advantage of NIH's loan forgiveness program, although you could stick in the PhD if you really wanted to.

You really need to be excited about where you're at. Part of what scares me about the schools I have acceptances from is that I don't like them; if I went there, I would be thoroughly unhappy with myself for having failed to get where I wanted to go. In my mind, if you're at a school you love, you're happier, more motivated and still in the game one way or another, even if it isn't the cut and dried MSTP route.

PM me if you like, and we can discuss individual schools more specifically.
 

Newquagmire

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mdpdgirl said:
I guess I'm asking should I risk it at the school I didn't get into the MD/PhD program and try applying after my first year? I already talked to the program director
It's not going to get any easier, and there is little you can do to improve your application in the meantime. If you go to this school, you're going to have to do so understanding that you still may not be accepted into the MD/PhD.
 

Dj neema

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I had the same situation between UCSF and UTSW. I'm at UTSW now and as someone already mentioned, there is little you can do to bolster your chances of acceptance...unless you rotate with someone who is one the acceptance committee.

Also, if the MD school you're talking about is Duke or Stanford, then I wouldn't risk it. I met one Duke MD who went MD/PhD and he told me that chances are really slim about MD ---> MSTP acceptance.
 

jjmack

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THis would be correct if you changed may not be accepted into the MSTP. I think it would be not too hard to get into a PhD program and get an MD, PhD. You just wouldn't get MD funding.


Newquagmire said:
It's not going to get any easier, and there is little you can do to improve your application in the meantime. If you go to this school, you're going to have to do so understanding that you still may not be accepted into the MD/PhD.
 
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PTPoeny

PTPoeny

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I've already been told that I can be a part of the MD/PhD program if I would like. I just wouldn't have funding. If I think that my grades are the weakest part of my application wouldn't a strong M1 year bolster my application? Or will it not be enough to matter?
 

Molecule

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This exact situation happened to me some years ago when I was where you're at, now.

I was torn...but...after calling the Admissions Office at my dream school (UCSF)--I inquired about how many people were ranked ahead of me and learned that I was about #20 for that year's applicant pool. Considering that they had taken 4 students (the other slots went to re-applicants from their MD program), I just didn't feel my chances were that great for a re-application.

On a more personal level, when they told me that as a prospective re-applicant I would still be expected to attend all the weekly MSTP seminars...I just became uncomfortable with the thought of how I would be introducing myself. "Hi, I'm hanging-out with you guys...but I'm not really one of you guys. Yet."

The more I thought about it, the more I resented the idea of being put in a "holding pattern," too.


Why don't I just go where they're going to roll-out the red carpet for me, I thought?

I wasn't happy choosing to go elsewhere...but I felt it did the best job of securing my chances of staying in academic medicine.

After a few years, when I ended up in a really great PhD lab...I was finally at peace with my decision.


You know, when you apply for residencies as an MSTP graduate...you have the power to go anywhere. I had an insanely successful interview season. And UCSF, Harvard...wherever. I had the power to go where I wanted--and Residencies were very candid in telling me so.


Don't fall in love, too much, with just one medical school. Think about the clout that a guaranteed slot in an MSTP gives you, in the future.

Also, it's not like the UCSFs of the world have a monopoly on good science.

If there are 2-3 labs you can be excited about at your #2 (or #n that's not #1) choice...seriously consider going there. It worked out for me...and I think you'll be just fine, too.
 
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PTPoeny

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How much of a difference will there be MSTP versus MD/PhD unfunded when it comes time for residency interviews?

Will anyone really care if I have the same two degrees from the same school? Especially since I will officially be part of the program? Will they know unless they ask me if I was funded?
 

Molecule

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mdpdgirl said:
How much of a difference will there be MSTP versus MD/PhD unfunded when it comes time for residency interviews?

Will anyone really care if I have the same two degrees from the same school? Especially since I will officially be part of the program? Will they know unless they ask me if I was funded?
It won't make a significant difference as far as how people view you. This year, there was someone from my medical school class year who had obtained his PhD prior to starting medical school (and from a different institution)--and he was treated (as far as I can tell) identically. (We were both applying to the same specialty.)

However, do you really want to incur $100,000 of unnecessary debt? ($200,000 if your dream school is private?)

That's very daunting when it comes time for you to decide if you're really going to launch that academic career.


As far as career plans, that, I think, is something that can affect your standing when you're applying to residencies. An MD-PhD who states that they're not interested, anymore, in research--isn't going to have the same advantages as someone with a clear and stated intent to pursue Academic Medicine.
 
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PTPoeny

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One thing I forgot to add is the one I do have is MD/PhD but not MSTP. Does that matter? Will residency directors care whether of not the school is MSTP or not?
 

Molecule

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mdpdgirl said:
One thing I forgot to add is the one I do have is MD/PhD but not MSTP. Does that matter? Will residency directors care whether of not the school is MSTP or not?
You know, I think the bottom line is that MD-PhDs applying to a given residency program are just hard to find, period.

So, I'm in Psychiatry--and what I was told is that, annually, there are only 15-20 MD-PhDs in the entire nation that apply to Psych Residencies. When you consider that there are about 100 academic residency programs nationally....


As far as being MSTP or non-MSTP...I don't know. Maybe there's the rare bad apple who will practice some kind of pedigree snobbery. But I think the other bottom line is your specific lab PI. Did you come from a good lab? I think that matters much more than whether you're from an MSTP or a non-MSTP MD-PhD program.
 

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Molecule said:
As far as being MSTP or non-MSTP...I don't know. Maybe there's the rare bad apple who will practice some kind of pedigree snobbery. But I think the other bottom line is your specific lab PI. Did you come from a good lab? I think that matters much more than whether you're from an MSTP or a non-MSTP MD-PhD program.
When you apply to a residency, will they actually be looking at who you did your PhD with? It seems like unless you worked with some Nobel Laureate, then the residency people aren't going to know who your PI was. Will the name of your med school matter? I've heard conflicting views on that topic and would appreciate some clarification.

To the OP: unless you think you would absolutely hate the non-MSTP school (maybe because of location?), then I would definitely suggest taking the funded spot over the MD-only. I've heard that applying internally is pretty risky business and the chances are that you will end up being stuck with a huge debt and no PhD. Personally, I wouldn't pay a school 100K+ so they don't give me a PhD ;)
 

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tedrik said:
When you apply to a residency, will they actually be looking at who you did your PhD with? It seems like unless you worked with some Nobel Laureate, then the residency people aren't going to know who your PI was. Will the name of your med school matter? I've heard conflicting views on that topic and would appreciate some clarification.

To the OP: unless you think you would absolutely hate the non-MSTP school (maybe because of location?), then I would definitely suggest taking the funded spot over the MD-only. I've heard that applying internally is pretty risky business and the chances are that you will end up being stuck with a huge debt and no PhD. Personally, I wouldn't pay a school 100K+ so they don't give me a PhD ;)
I always thought your own publications would matter more than the name of the PI. So the PI matters, but only indirectly because of funding, lab atmosphere, willingness to teach you, LOR, etc.

I've heard conflicting views on how important the name of the school is as well. I'd like to believe that it doesn't matter, but I think it does. Look around you at your next interview. How many of those people are from name schools? At least 3/4 in my experience, and they're even more dominant on the list of current students. You could try believing in meritocracy, and it might work. If you have the option, though, go with the safe choice. Right or wrong, people make assumptions about you based on where you went to school, and those assumptions will only help you if you go to your favorite elite school's name here _________.
 

Molecule

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tedrik said:
When you apply to a residency, will they actually be looking at who you did your PhD with? It seems like unless you worked with some Nobel Laureate, then the residency people aren't going to know who your PI was. Will the name of your med school matter? I've heard conflicting views on that topic and would appreciate some clarification.
I think it depends. You don't want to come from a lab where the PI is flailing or not generally respected. (I had a bad experience on the med school interview trail when one of my undergraduate PIs fell into that category.)

I think if your grad school PI is someone well known (and Nobel laureate is not necessary)--that helps--especially if the basic science people in your clinical specialty belong to a field that is related to your lab's work.

You know, my residency interviews were similar to my MD-PhD interviews in that I got both sets of interviews. (1) The clinicians and (2) the scientists. And some schools even emphasized my meetings with the scientists more than they did with housestaff or attendings. The scientists definitely would know or have an opinion about your PI--the clinicians absolutely not, of course.


It is often written in science journals (when they comment on career issues) that the #1 predictor for future research success is the lab you came from. While this is much more true of you when you're at the post-doc level than when you're still a grad student...and while your own individual publication record speaks more than your lab pedigree per se...I think it's something to keep in mind wherever you decide to go.


As far as school name recognition...that really varies. I heard from one residency program director who confessed that he weights this--even dating back to undergraduate institution for an applicant.


But the bottom line is that everything is a balance.

You want to go to a decent medical school. You want to get into a lab that has a good publication track record. But, from my experience, it's not necessary to come from that dream medical school you didn't quite get the full acceptance from.

I went to a #15-20 ranked medical school, got my PhD, and did just fine. I didn't get my dream MSTP...and I also passed on a few that were ranked more highly--because this particular school I decided on had better research lab choices for my particular interests.

And I haven't regretted my decision at all.
 

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Molecule said:
On a more personal level, when they told me that as a prospective re-applicant I would still be expected to attend all the weekly MSTP seminars...I just became uncomfortable with the thought of how I would be introducing myself. "Hi, I'm hanging-out with you guys...but I'm not really one of you guys. Yet."
The more I thought about it, the more I resented the idea of being put in a "holding pattern," too.
As a person currently in a "holding pattern" at a top 3 school, I think a lot of the decision the OP makes should depend on 1) How comfortable she is with herself and 2) where she thinks she can succeed and 3) Where she can be happy. I know when I attend seminars with the "regular" students I act and carry myself just like I belong there and when people ask what I'm doing there I simply say just checking things out. In these situations, confidence is key!

So, if you don't care about titles like MSTP MD/PhD versus MD/PhD, then I say go for the school where you think you can do the best and be happy. When you go to national meetings as an academician or student for that matter, the title on you name badge says Jane Doe MD, PhD ONLY not unfunded MD/PhD graduate or MSTP graduate.
 

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paramus said:
I've heard conflicting views on how important the name of the school is as well. I'd like to believe that it doesn't matter, but I think it does. Look around you at your next interview. How many of those people are from name schools? At least 3/4 in my experience, and they're even more dominant on the list of current students. You could try believing in meritocracy, and it might work. If you have the option, though, go with the safe choice. Right or wrong, people make assumptions about you based on where you went to school, and those assumptions will only help you if you go to your favorite elite school's name here _________.
Having recently returned from a national meeting of primarily clinicians, from my experience being a "triple threat" is key. The 3 factors appear to be:

1) Name of insitution(s)
2) Name of PI
3) Publications/research

And these three things are related to each other. A solid PI is likely doing cutting edge research which usually equals publications. Because she's so good and well known, she likely is at or has strong connections to a big name institution(s). And the "world of research" is a hell of a lot smaller than I ever thought it was.