Nov 19, 2020
4
0
Status
  1. Psychology Student
Hi everyone!

I'm feeling a bit lost on where to go from here and SDN seems like the best place to get some advice. After scouring through the threads I realized that I do have a few different paths forward, but am very confused as to how I should go about this

About Me: I am currently a 3rd year PhD student at a big research school in Cognitive Neuroscience (at the same school where I did my undergrad). Currently 26, will probably be 28 by the time I defend. My focus is on diagnostics of mental disorders and most of my research is very computational. This past year I've been pushed by my advisor to think more seriously about my plans after graduate school so we can better prepare me for whatever I decide (academia, industry, etc.) and a few months ago I realized that I can only really be happy with an MD. I spent a gap year before my PhD as a RA boosting my research (was second author on a pretty big paper) and absolutely loved working with patients when it came to data collection. I became integral to the lab I was at, as none of the graduate students or postdocs could build a relationship with the participants the way I could, and my advisor recommended I do a PhD to keep me in the lab, I thought why not since I really enjoyed the research, and here I am.

I've found my dissertation project and it is something I am truly passionate about, I think it will help people, but I've realized my favorite part about all of this was working with patients. I love research, and frankly I've done very well for what my training was (I was a public health major, but threw myself into computer science and engineering classes in graduate school and did much better than expected in these classes), however machine learning and computer science and overall, the computational side of all of this, is not where I'm happy. I can get a tech job after all of this and it's what my family is pushing for, but the thought of spending my life doing that really feels like I'm just copping out of not going to medical school because I feel like it's too late/will be too difficult. I really do think if I do not go for this now, I will regret it for the rest of my life.

Leaving my PhD is not an option. My advisor is amazing, I like the research, and it just feels overall unethical and unnecessary. So I definitely will be finishing and my goal will be to start at a med school the semester after I defend or within the next year, however I know I need to be realistic about it and would like to start planning now to prepare my application to overcome the weaknesses.

The Problem: I was very young, dumb, and reckless in undergrad. I had no idea what I wanted to do, I had no passion, and it showed. I really have no excuse for how low my science GPA was, but it is what it is and I've spent a lot of time with regret and understand it's time to move on and figure out how to overcome it. I do know it's the weakest part of my application. I've started studying for the MCATs and taken three practice exams, all of which I've scored between 512-515 (I definitely plan on taking a Kaplan class and studying more). I did not finish all my undergrad prereqs, but the ones I did finish are below, I would still need to take Physics and Orgo 2. I stopped taking science classes and started taking computer science classes my last two years of classes and was able to bring up my cumulative GPA which is how I got into grad school.

(science GPA ~2.4, cumulative GPA was 3.5)
Calculus 1 - A
Gen Bio 1 - C
Gen Bio 2 - C
Bio Lab - B
Gen Chem 1 - B
Gen Chem 2 - B
Chem Lab - A
Orgo 1 - C (after retaking, got a F the first time)

The Solution (?): I don't know where to go from here. I know I can get in a lot of shadowing (once COVID subsides), and I'll have a competitive number of papers by the time I defend, but I know this is all secondary. I need to know what I should do to make up for the low UG GPA. After looking through all the threads and advice given here, I've seen multiple options like a DIY Postbacc, a formal postbacc after I graduate, or a SMP. Since I'm at the same school I did my undergrad, I was thinking I could retake Orgo1, and take Orgo 2 and the Physics, and maybe even re-take my Gen Bio classes to show I've gotten my act together and to serve as a DIY postbacc. The reason I'm leaning toward this decision is because I can take undergrad classes which my department will pay for, and since they are at the same school I'm not sure how that will count? They will technically be on my graduate transcript since I am a graduate student, but they do not technically count toward by degree and are undergraduate classes. If I am able to bring up my science GPA by doing this, and get solid As in Physics and Orgo, will that help my chances? Or will it be a waste of time and should I just bite the bullet and spend the money on a postbacc or SMP? I don't think any competitive linkage programs will take me, which is also somewhat disheartening, so I'm really just wondering what my best shot is here. Its been 5 years since my last basic science class which may or may not be relevant.

I appreciate any help, guidance, and advice. I've made my decision on wanting to go toward medical school, and am really hoping it's not too late for me. Thank you everyone!
 
Last edited:

jhmmd

supernatural
Apr 28, 2020
1,381
932
on the wall
Hi everyone!

I'm feeling a bit lost on where to go from here and SDN seems like the best place to get some advice. After scouring through the threads I realized that I do have a few different paths forward, but am very confused as to how I should go about this

About Me: I am currently a 3rd year PhD student at a big research school in Cognitive Neuroscience (at the same school where I did my undergrad). Currently 26, will probably be 28 by the time I defend. My focus is on diagnostics of mental disorders and most of my research is very computational. This past year I've been pushed by my advisor to think more seriously about my plans after graduate school so we can better prepare me for whatever I decide (academia, industry, etc.) and a few months ago I realized that I can only really be happy with an MD. I spent a gap year before my PhD as a RA boosting my research (was second author on a pretty big paper) and absolutely loved working with patients when it came to data collection. I became integral to the lab I was at, as none of the graduate students or postdocs could build a relationship with the participants the way I could, and my advisor recommended I do a PhD to keep me in the lab, I thought why not since I really enjoyed the research, and here I am.

I've found my dissertation project and it is something I am truly passionate about, I think it will help people, but I've realized my favorite part about all of this was working with patients. I love research, and frankly I've done very well for what my training was (I was a public health major, but threw myself into computer science and engineering classes in graduate school and did much better than expected in these classes), however machine learning and computer science and overall, the computational side of all of this, is not where I'm happy. I can get a tech job after all of this and it's what my family is pushing for, but the thought of spending my life doing that really feels like I'm just copping out of not going to medical school because I feel like it's too late/will be too difficult. I really do think if I do not go for this now, I will regret it for the rest of my life.

Leaving my PhD is not an option. My advisor is amazing, I like the research, and it just feels overall unethical and unnecessary. So I definitely will be finishing and my goal will be to start at a med school the semester after I defend or within the next year, however I know I need to be realistic about it and would like to start planning now to prepare my application to overcome the weaknesses.

The Problem: I was very young, dumb, and reckless in undergrad. I had no idea what I wanted to do, I had no passion, and it showed. I really have no excuse for how low my science GPA was, but it is what it is and I've spent a lot of time with regret and understand it's time to move on and figure out how to overcome it. I do know it's the weakest part of my application. I've started studying for the MCATs and taken three practice exams, all of which I've scored between 512-515 (I definitely plan on taking a Kaplan class and studying more). I did not finish all my undergrad prereqs, but the ones I did finish are below, I would still need to take Physics and Orgo 2. I stopped taking science classes and started taking computer science classes my last two years of classes and was able to bring up my cumulative GPA which is how I got into grad school.

(science GPA ~2.4, cumulative GPA was 3.5)
Calculus 1 - A
Gen Bio 1 - C
Gen Bio 2 - C
Bio Lab - B
Gen Chem 1 - B
Gen Chem 2 - B
Chem Lab - A
Orgo 1 - C (after retaking, got a F the first time)

The Solution (?): I don't know where to go from here. I know I can get in a lot of shadowing (once COVID subsides), and I'll have a competitive number of papers by the time I defend, but I know this is all secondary. I need to know what I should do to make up for the low UG GPA. After looking through all the threads and advice given here, I've seen multiple options like a DIY Postbacc, a formal postbacc after I graduate, or a SMP. Since I'm at the same school I did my undergrad, I was thinking I could retake Orgo1, and take Orgo 2 and the Physics, and maybe even re-take my Gen Bio classes to show I've gotten my act together and to serve as a DIY postbacc. The reason I'm leaning toward this decision is because I can take undergrad classes which my department will pay for, and since they are at the same school I'm not sure how that will count? They will technically be on my graduate transcript since I am a graduate student, but they do not technically count toward by degree and are undergraduate classes. If I am able to bring up my science GPA by doing this, and get solid As in Physics and Orgo, will that help my chances? Or will it be a waste of time and should I just bite the bullet and spend the money on a postbacc or SMP? I don't think any competitive linkage programs will take me, which is also somewhat disheartening, so I'm really just wondering what my best shot is here. Its been 5 years since my last basic science class which may or may not be relevant.

I appreciate any help, guidance, and advice. I've made my decision on wanting to go toward medical school, and am really hoping it's not too late for me. Thank you everyone!
I'd recommend a SMP at this point. Your GPA is on par with most SMPs. Depending on how well you perform on the real MCAT, you have a solid shot, but I'm confused about why you want to finish your PhD if you're really serious about med school. Probably time to sit down and make a list of pros and cons for each option.
 
Nov 19, 2020
4
0
Status
  1. Psychology Student
I'd recommend a SMP at this point. Your GPA is on par with most SMPs. Depending on how well you perform on the real MCAT, you have a solid shot, but I'm confused about why you want to finish your PhD if you're really serious about med school. Probably time to sit down and make a list of pros and cons for each option.
Thank you so much for the reply! I think my only hesitancy with an SMP was that I could not understand if it actually benefits me enough if I'm able to show an upward trajectory with the pre-reqs, but I'm definitely more than open to it if it gives me a fair shot.

I don't want to leave the PhD because it just feels very taboo considering my advisor has put a lot of money into me and my tuition can honestly finish in a year or two (which I can use to study for MCAT). I also do like research and don't want to completely write off being a physician-scientist later on in life (when I've already put a lot of effort into the degree).
 
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jhmmd

supernatural
Apr 28, 2020
1,381
932
on the wall
Thank you so much for the reply! I think my only hesitancy with an SMP was that I could not understand if it actually benefits me enough if I'm able to show an upward trajectory with the pre-reqs, but I'm definitely more than open to it if it gives me a fair shot.

I don't want to leave the PhD because it just feels very taboo considering my advisor has put a lot of money into me and my tuition can honestly finish in a year or two (which I can use to study for MCAT). I also do like research and don't want to completely write off being a physician-scientist later on in life (when I've already put a lot of effort into the degree).
Like @Goro has said before, your app needs to be OUTSTANDING for Md/PhD (your ugrad GPA is not on target for this, speaking openly).

As you know it is your life and you're free to apply to med school whenever you want. It's up to you to decide how important med school is to you--I think that at this point, a SMP would benefit you more than a post bacc, though.

You didn't give a lot of detail about the rest of your application so I'm assuming you have a good mix of ECs, clinical volunteering, shadowing, a well-written PS, etc.
 
Nov 19, 2020
4
0
Status
  1. Psychology Student
Like @Goro has said before, your app needs to be OUTSTANDING for Md/PhD (your ugrad GPA is not on target for this, speaking openly).

As you know it is your life and you're free to apply to med school whenever you want. It's up to you to decide how important med school is to you--I think that at this point, a SMP would benefit you more than a post bacc, though.

You didn't give a lot of detail about the rest of your application so I'm assuming you have a good mix of ECs, clinical volunteering, shadowing, a well-written PS, etc.
Thank you! I wouldn't be applying to any MD/PhDs, just MD programs (and will have completed my PhD). It does seem like an SMP will be more beneficial to me since I've taken a majority of pre-reqs. I have a lot of volunteer experience with children with developmental disorders, but definitely need to boost my shadowing hours (which I was planning on doing before COVID hit, so the extra year in my PhD will help me with that too). Thanks again!
 

jhmmd

supernatural
Apr 28, 2020
1,381
932
on the wall
Thank you! I wouldn't be applying to any MD/PhDs, just MD programs (and will have completed my PhD). It does seem like an SMP will be more beneficial to me since I've taken a majority of pre-reqs. I have a lot of volunteer experience with children with developmental disorders, but definitely need to boost my shadowing hours (which I was planning on doing before COVID hit, so the extra year in my PhD will help me with that too). Thanks again!
You're welcome. Good luck with everything.
 
Aug 23, 2019
47
73
Does your current school have a medical school attached? If so, maybe you can leverage your network to meet someone in the admissions office to go over things at a high level.
 
Nov 19, 2020
4
0
Status
  1. Psychology Student
Does your current school have a medical school attached? If so, maybe you can leverage your network to meet someone in the admissions office to go over things at a high level.
It does! We're a pretty big medical/research institution so I think I could try to find a way to do that - thank you!
 

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