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Enough Research Experience For MD/PhD?

Discussion in 'Physician Scientists' started by Hotshy, Jul 22, 2011.

  1. Hotshy

    5+ Year Member

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    I know there are many threads on this, but I want to describe my specific situation. I went to undergrad just thinking to do MD, but I had a conversation with my adviser (former dean of admissions at the university's medical school) one day that got me started. We were talking and he kind of randomly came out and said "I notice your great GPA and from my general sense of you I would think you would make a great MD/PhD. Who knows if you keep your ties to the University you could even be a faculty member here one day." So this last semester, spring 2011, I started genetics research and found it to be genuinely interesting and now I'm doing research full time this summer at the university's medical school. (I'm actually there right now :laugh: )

    Okay to start some Stats;

    Just finished the sophomore year and heading into the junior year

    GPA: 4.0

    MCAT: guessing 34-36ish (took on july 16th 2011)

    Course Work: Will begin taking some graduate courses in genetics this coming fall and the following semesters., have already taken all prereqs + genetics and biochem)

    Research: Will have 3 semesters in same lab + 2 summers when I apply.


    EC's: RA, Academic help mentor, public health volunteer, Emergency Department Volunteer, Club Officer, Free clinic volunteer (Just for this summer)

    How do I shape up?

    I know my research is on the low end, but by the time I graduate I will have had two years in the same lab and two summers of full time research.

    I'm open to MSTP MD/PhD and non-MSTP MD/PhD programs.
     
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  3. gobroncos123

    2+ Year Member

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    I am currently applying to MSTP programs. At one point, I also had the same question and asked around quite a bit. So, I can offer some advice, though others will be much more qualified to give an opinion.

    From what I gleaned, it is important to have tangible results, especially from such a long term research experience such as yours. Get YOUR project and carry it through its development. Ideally it would yield publishable results and you would be first author. This is very tough and really depends on your PI and how invested he is in training undergrads. Go present at research conferences (school, national, etc), get abstracts published, etc to give the committee proof that you are serious about research. And the PI rec letter is huge; he can give the strongest endorsement of your research potential. And getting research scholarships, especially nationally competitive ones like the Goldwater will strengthen your application.

    2 years + 2 summers is more than adequate in terms of duration. What is much more important is what you produce.
     
  4. Choculitis

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    I work with an MD/PhD at Penn who only had two summers of research when he applied, plus a 4th year thesis project that year, and he seemed to think that was enough. Granted, the rest of his application was very strong (Phi Beta Kappa, extremely high MCAT, letter from a big name prof).

    I'm applying now with 3 summers, 1 semester, and a 4th year research project this year. I tried doing research during the year and didn't find that it was productive trying to fit in lab time in with class, chem labs, other ECs, and having a social life. Now that I'm reading things like Neuronix's guide and other stuff on SDN, I'm starting to regret not having stuck with the research, but it's not like there's much I can do about that now. Hopefully my highly detailed research experience essay and very strong letters from PIs will make up for maybe being on the low end in terms of sheer length.
     
  5. EsseQuamVideri

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    If I were looking at this as an adcom member (which, i have no claim to) I would seriously question your dedication to a research career. That's not to say that you aren't dedicated, but are you intimately familiar with what it means to be a researcher? If you've considered it only after an off-hand suggestion by your pre-health advisor how do you know it's for you? More importantly, how do you convince someone else?

    Have you helped develop a project, contributed to experimental design, run the manips, analyzed the data, published/presented/defended your ideas? Research is not for the faint of heart. You have to convince them you not only can take it, but love it and will thrive. Your academic record will help you, your EC's are sufficient for medicine, and with a strong MCAT score you can overcome your relative weakness in research.
     
  6. Hotshy

    5+ Year Member

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    I talked to the PI this spring and I chose my project on my own. Essentially what I'm saying I have taken ownership from the beginning. The PI and I developed the protocols to start the project this spring, and completed that phase of the project (the initial gene cloning and sequence analysis). I will be defending my findings on this summer's research and my undergrad (at my university) research each spring 2012 and 2013 at an undergraduate research symposium. Lastly, my PI told me from the beginning that this project will definitely yield publishable results.

    Also I took the suggestion from my adviser to explore a career in research. How can you know if research is for you until you've tried it? I guess, it was a whim in that I began exploring the MD/PhD career. But I find myself becoming more and more invested in research as I become more involved in it. I sit in my classes listening to lecture, thinking about how I'd rather be in the lab working in the lab. All I can say is that I really want a career in research at this time. And I think if I am still feeling this way when the application cycle starts next June, I will definitely be applying as an MD/PhD.

    Sorry if I sounded defensive in anyway, just trying elaborate more.

    Any comments or feedback would be greatly appreciated. :D
     
  7. EsseQuamVideri

    7+ Year Member

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    No need to apologize, it's your job here to be defensive; just objective at the same time. The way you discovered the MD/Ph.D option isn't the issue, it's how you've tested it. You have to prove to the adcom next year that you were born to do this so the more experience you have, generally the better job you will do convincing them. Keep it up :thumbup:
     
  8. Lil Mick

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    Years of research are a good thing in applying to MSTPs, but it's more about your experience, what you learned about being a researcher, how you did as much as you could with the experience you could get... A lot of us were torn between the MD and the PhD route when we decided to try MD/PhD, so if you can defend why you want both degrees, as well as what you want to do next with your projects/area of study, you should be fine, provided that you apply wisely (not all top 10 schools).
     

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