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Medigal

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Hi, I am a freshman premed majoring in Medical Studies at Arizona State University. I need a sense of direction as I begin the path to prepare for admission to medical school. My goal is to become a surgeon-scientist, so I primarily want to apply to MD-PhD programs. I am an Indian American, so I know getting into medical school will be very difficult. I just moved back to the US from India. I did my high school from India so I do not have any previous volunteer or work experience. Currently, I am in my first semester and am taking Gen Bio 1, Gen Chem 1, Eng 101, Precalc, and one university-required course called CHS 101 (1credit course). So I am taking 15 credits and I estimate getting an A+ in bio, an A in chem, an A in precalc, an A in Eng, and an A in CHS. Overall, I will finish this semester with a 4.00 GPA. I am planning to start volunteering at a hospital as soon as the semester ends. I will continue hospital volunteering throughout my undergraduate time. I plan to apply to summer research programs that accept freshmen. I am considering an IA position for my sophomore year. I also plan to work as a medical scribe but don't know if it will lower my grades and whether it is a right job for me. I have to start shadowing a physician during the summer but I don't know any physician here in Arizona. I will have 17 credits next semester with courses in Gen Bio 2, Gen Chem 2, Eng 102, and two other major-specific courses. My major does not have calculus so I plan to take it as an elective.
I have four questions:
1) How do I apply to research programs if I don't have any previous volunteer or work experience?
2) How do I shadow a physician if I don't know any doctor?
3) Do medical schools with MD-PhD programs require calculus?
4) Am I on the right path? Do I need to add or modify something to my list of activities or what kind of medical jobs should I consider?
Any inputs will be invaluable and will help me create a four-year plan for pre-med

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Tenk

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1) Doesn’t matter, just apply.
2) Doesn’t matter, just call or ask until someone says sure. Can also try to network through volunteering.
3) Every program is different on what all their prereqs are. Check the schools you are interested in applying to.
4) MCAT, grades, letters of recommendation, volunteering, shadowing, and research. Everything else is just extra and should not be exchanged for any of these things.
 
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pillowfighty

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Hi, I am a freshman premed majoring in Medical Studies at Arizona State University. I need a sense of direction as I begin the path to prepare for admission to medical school. My goal is to become a surgeon-scientist, so I primarily want to apply to MD-PhD programs. I am an Indian American, so I know getting into medical school will be very difficult. I just moved back to the US from India. I did my high school from India so I do not have any previous volunteer or work experience. Currently, I am in my first semester and am taking Gen Bio 1, Gen Chem 1, Eng 101, Precalc, and one university-required course called CHS 101 (1credit course). So I am taking 15 credits and I estimate getting an A+ in bio, an A in chem, an A in precalc, an A in Eng, and an A in CHS. Overall, I will finish this semester with a 4.00 GPA. I am planning to start volunteering at a hospital as soon as the semester ends. I will continue hospital volunteering throughout my undergraduate time. I plan to apply to summer research programs that accept freshmen. I am considering an IA position for my sophomore year. I also plan to work as a medical scribe but don't know if it will lower my grades and whether it is a right job for me. I have to start shadowing a physician during the summer but I don't know any physician here in Arizona. I will have 17 credits next semester with courses in Gen Bio 2, Gen Chem 2, Eng 102, and two other major-specific courses. My major does not have calculus so I plan to take it as an elective.
I have four questions:
1) How do I apply to research programs if I don't have any previous volunteer or work experience?
2) How do I shadow a physician if I don't know any doctor?
3) Do medical schools with MD-PhD programs require calculus?
4) Am I on the right path? Do I need to add or modify something to my list of activities or what kind of medical jobs should I consider?
Any inputs will be invaluable and will help me create a four-year plan for pre-med

1). I went and interviewed for a research group at UCI and got it without them asking me about volunteering. You’re fine, just apply and be nice. Write a cover letter about you being in India and what it was like to travel to the US, and your aspirations/skills.

2). What’s the nearest hospital? Look it up and look at the volunteer section. They might have a section for Pre-Meds specifically for a shadowing program. If not, look at the staff list and the departments and just call until someone says yes. You can shadow them, and then ask for them (nicely) to recommend you to someone else and it’s a domino effect. Just call and ask.

3). Most places require a “mathematical analysis” class, or at least statistics. Better to know it than not to know. You have 3 years before you need to apply it, just take some math classes and do well in them. Read up on study books for calculus. It’s only 1 calculus course (usually).

4). Shadow (50+ hours) clinical and non-clinical volunteering (150+ each), research (100-500 hours depending on what school u want) and beef up writing skills and analysis. Get some practice books. Make sure you prepare for all parts of the MCAT. I’m following the advice I’m giving right now so I only know this based off of others telling me and my own research and what I’m currently doing. Good luck! Have a plan and write it out


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Not to sound pretentious, but do you actually know what a surgeon-scientist is? Most practicing surgeons are strictly clinical. People who go into md-PhD programs typically go into other medical (non-surgical) specialties. Most surgeons have no use or time for a PhD.


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AspiringDoc169

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1) How do I apply to research programs if I don't have any previous volunteer or work experience?
Just apply where your interests are. Look at the PI's research group website, talk to their students, and see what's it like.
2) How do I shadow a physician if I don't know any doctor?
Start with your PCP and then ask him/her if he/she has any contacts (i.e. if you are interested in surgery, there might be someone your PCP also knows)
3) Do medical schools with MD-PhD programs require calculus?
No, but it doesn't hurt to take it.
4) Am I on the right path? Do I need to add or modify something to my list of activities or what kind of medical jobs should I consider?
Any inputs will be invaluable and will help me create a four-year plan for pre-med
You are on the right track, just make sure you do well on the MCAT.

PM me if you have other questions!
 
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NickNaylor

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1) Most universities typically have some kind of formal research opportunities, potentially for credit. That can be a great way to get involved in research. Sometimes you luck out with professors doing research and looking for eager undergrads that they can use for free labor. But putting that aside, extensive research experience isn't a pre-requisite to be accepted to a "research" school. Medical schools typically want a broad diversity in their students. Even Harvard isn't looking to fill a class of people with crazy research experiences.

2) Cold calling is always a great option, but get involved in some capacity with any pre-med clubs at your university. Oftentimes, your forefathers will be familiar with local physicians that are open to shadowing.

3) Highly variable. Just do a calculus course, it isn't that hard and that way you won't be limited to programs that you can apply to.

4) Probably the most important thing is getting involved with things that interest you and that you actually care about and trying to figure out if you actually want to be a physician. If you're able to do that and your able interact with people comfortably and do well academically, you'll get in somewhere.
 
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pillowfighty

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Not to sound pretentious, but do you actually know what a surgeon-scientist is? Most practicing surgeons are strictly clinical. People who go into md-PhD programs typically go into other medical (non-surgical) specialties. Most surgeons have no use or time for a PhD.


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Yeah I agree, my research group is in the surgery department of a hospital, and they are strictly PhD not MD. There's one guy who's MD PhD but he is strictly just for research, he never practices medicine. There aren't surgeon-scientists, really. The undergrads and I are a mixed group of PhD and MD wanters, but none going the MD PhD route cause it's a waste of time.
 
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SteyrFWB

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A lot of things in life change with time, and with forging inspiration.

My college roommate said he want to do hand on research. Got in MD-PhD.

He said he would never get in surgery, not basic research enough. I believed what he said.

My thirty year med school came up. Looked him up, he is the director of surgical oncology; he spent freaking seven years after getting his PhD doing nothing but surgery.

What you want to do yesterday and even today is not binding.

Who knows what tomorrow brings, just keep breathing and enjoying the journey.

You do as your conscience demands, at any time.

MD-PhD for now, go for it !
 
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Medigal

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1) Doesn’t matter, just apply.
2) Doesn’t matter, just call or ask until someone says sure. Can also try to network through volunteering.
3) Every program is different on what all their prereqs are. Check the schools you are interested in applying to.
4) MCAT, grades, letters of recommendation, volunteering, shadowing, and research. Everything else is just extra and should not be exchanged for any of these things.
Thank you for your response. Yes, I plan to network through volunteering as it is the only way I will get to shadow.
 

Medigal

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1). I went and interviewed for a research group at UCI and got it without them asking me about volunteering. You’re fine, just apply and be nice. Write a cover letter about you being in India and what it was like to travel to the US, and your aspirations/skills.

2). What’s the nearest hospital? Look it up and look at the volunteer section. They might have a section for Pre-Meds specifically for a shadowing program. If not, look at the staff list and the departments and just call until someone says yes. You can shadow them, and then ask for them (nicely) to recommend you to someone else and it’s a domino effect. Just call and ask.

3). Most places require a “mathematical analysis” class, or at least statistics. Better to know it than not to know. You have 3 years before you need to apply it, just take some math classes and do well in them. Read up on study books for calculus. It’s only 1 calculus course (usually).

4). Shadow (50+ hours) clinical and non-clinical volunteering (150+ each), research (100-500 hours depending on what school u want) and beef up writing skills and analysis. Get some practice books. Make sure you prepare for all parts of the MCAT. I’m following the advice I’m giving right now so I only know this based off of others telling me and my own research and what I’m currently doing. Good luck! Have a plan and write it out


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Yes, I will talk about my experience in India and how I decided to move back to the US for a research career. There are various hospitals around my home and school like Banner Health, Dignity Health, etc so I can volunteer there. I was thinking about observership programs in medical schools. Are they similar to shadowing a physician? Also, can you recommend some non-clinical volunteering programs as I cannot figure out what is considered a non-clinical volunteering? Thank you so much for taking the time to write a thoughtful response.
 

Medigal

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Not to sound pretentious, but do you actually know what a surgeon-scientist is? Most practicing surgeons are strictly clinical. People who go into md-PhD programs typically go into other medical (non-surgical) specialties. Most surgeons have no use or time for a PhD.


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I know that becoming a surgeon-scientist is a difficult task. But I still plan to do it. I may work at a research hospital and see patients while conducting research.
 

Medigal

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1) How do I apply to research programs if I don't have any previous volunteer or work experience?
Just apply where your interests are. Look at the PI's research group website, talk to their students, and see what's it like.
2) How do I shadow a physician if I don't know any doctor?
Start with your PCP and then ask him/her if he/she has any contacts (i.e. if you are interested in surgery, there might be someone your PCP also knows)
3) Do medical schools with MD-PhD programs require calculus?
No, but it doesn't hurt to take it.
4) Am I on the right path? Do I need to add or modify something to my list of activities or what kind of medical jobs should I consider?
Any inputs will be invaluable and will help me create a four-year plan for pre-med
You are on the right track, just make sure you do well on the MCAT.

PM me if you have other questions!
Thank you for the response. I will follow what you said.
 
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Medigal

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1) Most universities typically have some kind of formal research opportunities, potentially for credit. That can be a great way to get involved in research. Sometimes you luck out with professors doing research and looking for eager undergrads that they can use for free labor. But putting that aside, extensive research experience isn't a pre-requisite to be accepted to a "research" school. Medical schools typically want a broad diversity in their students. Even Harvard isn't looking to fill a class of people with crazy research experiences.

2) Cold calling is always a great option, but get involved in some capacity with any pre-med clubs at your university. Oftentimes, your forefathers will be familiar with local physicians that are open to shadowing.

3) Highly variable. Just do a calculus course, it isn't that hard and that way you won't be limited to programs that you can apply to.

4) Probably the most important thing is getting involved with things that interest you and that you actually care about and trying to figure out if you actually want to be a physician. If you're able to do that and your able interact with people comfortably and do well academically, you'll get in somewhere.
Thank you for the response. I was looking at my university's website, and most of them require a minimum of sophomore standing to be eligible to apply. Do most research labs not accept freshmen?
 

Medigal

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Yeah I agree, my research group is in the surgery department of a hospital, and they are strictly PhD not MD. There's one guy who's MD PhD but he is strictly just for research, he never practices medicine. There aren't surgeon-scientists, really. The undergrads and I are a mixed group of PhD and MD wanters, but none going the MD PhD route cause it's a waste of time.
Is it true you can still do research even if you don't have a PhD but an MD?
 

Medigal

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A lot of things in life change with time, and with forging inspiration.

My college roommate said he want to do hand on research. Got in MD-PhD.

He said he would never get in surgery, not basic research enough. I believed what he said.

My thirty year med school came up. Looked him up, he is the director of surgical oncology; he spent freaking seven years after getting his PhD doing nothing but surgery.

What you want to do yesterday and even today is not binding.

Who knows what tomorrow brings, just keep breathing and enjoying the journey.

You do as your conscience demands, at any time.

MD-PhD for now, go for it !
I agree whatever interests us at the moment, we should go for it. For now, an MD-PhD is what I want to do.
 
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I know that becoming a surgeon-scientist is a difficult task. But I still plan to do it. I may work at a research hospital and see patients while conducting research.

It’s not about it being difficult. It’s about it not making any sense. That’s why I am asking whether you want this because you think it is the most prestigious thing. But it actually makes no sense. You cannot run a research lab and be a productive surgeon at the same time. The “productive” part is the key. You can be a surgeon, but if you want to run a serious lab, you won’t be doing many cases, and it’s not worth it to do a residency in surgery unless you’re clinically busy. There are not enough hours in the day to have the kind of caseload that you need to be a competent surgeon. I am an actual surgeon, that’s why I am telling you this.
You can do research without having a PhD, by the way. I do research as well. But you do not need a PhD for that. People who have PhDs run labs… But they also do not have a busy surgical practice. You’ll see if you make it into med school; you’ll get more experience with the specialties and see what they actually do.


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pillowfighty

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Thank you for the response. I was looking at my university's website, and most of them require a minimum of sophomore standing to be eligible to apply. Do most research labs not accept freshmen?

My university accepted me as a freshman, and as a 17 year old. Minors aren't allowed in the lab but you can do grunt work. Anything is possible


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pillowfighty

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Is it true you can still do research even if you don't have a PhD but an MD?

Definitely. Some med schools require a research project to be completed, and residencies do that as well. Many doctors do research on the side while performing cases, you do not need a PhD. However, for a surgeon it's less likely due to time constraints.


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Medigal

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It’s not about it being difficult. It’s about it not making any sense. That’s why I am asking whether you want this because you think it is the most prestigious thing. But it actually makes no sense. You cannot run a research lab and be a productive surgeon at the same time. The “productive” part is the key. You can be a surgeon, but if you want to run a serious lab, you won’t be doing many cases, and it’s not worth it to do a residency in surgery unless you’re clinically busy. There are not enough hours in the day to have the kind of caseload that you need to be a competent surgeon. I am an actual surgeon, that’s why I am telling you this.
You can do research without having a PhD, by the way. I do research as well. But you do not need a PhD for that. People who have PhDs run labs… But they also do not have a busy surgical practice. You’ll see if you make it into med school; you’ll get more experience with the specialties and see what they actually do.


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Thank you for explaining the importance of being productive. I am naive into this subject so pardon me if I sound immature but I really want to conduct research and also be a surgeon. Maybe as I enter the medical field, I will get a better understanding as to what I want to emphasize more upon; being a surgeon or a scientist. Also, I have been looking upon the neurosurgeon resident profiles on various medical school pages and the majority of them have an MD-PhD. Can you explain the correlation between having an MD-PhD and getting a neurosurgery residency?
 
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Thank you for explaining the importance of being productive. I am naive into this subject so pardon me if I sound immature but I really want to conduct research and also be a surgeon. Maybe as I enter the medical field, I will get a better understanding as to what I want to emphasize more upon; being a surgeon or a scientist. Also, I have been looking upon the neurosurgeon resident profiles on various medical school pages and the majority of them have an MD-PhD. Can you explain the correlation between having an MD-PhD and getting a neurosurgery residency?

I am an orthopaedic surgeon, not a neurosurgeon, but my best guess is because because neurosurgery residency is competitive, and the PhD helps them match and gives them an extra edge.

There is, in general, an inverse relationship between how much research you do and how "clinical" you are. You're going to have to explain what you mean by "conducting research." That's VERY different from having a PhD. As I've said before, you do not need a PhD if you want to do research as an attending. You can be clinically busy as a surgeon AND do research (that is what I do), but you won't be running a lab. I conduct projects (clinical not basic research), and I do not have a PhD. It would be a waste of time for me, as it gives me nothing. A PhD is primarily for physicians who want to run labs and conduct large projects, usually in basic (bench work) rather than clinical research. But as I said before, unless they have an army of assistants to help them, those physicians are not seeing many patients, and are primarily researchers/scientists, and physicians only in name. Particularly in surgery, to remain competent you need to operate and do cases. Most surgeons that you see running labs aren't doing that; they are either at the end of their careers, or surgeons only in name, as in they finished a surgery residency but focus their time on research. For example, my ex-chairman was one of these. He only operated once a week and barely saw patients in the office (he had the residents do it for him), as most of his life was devoted to dealing with the lab. You just can't do both things WELL. You will see once you get there. Also, there is no guarantee that even if you get into med school, you will match into a surgical residency - they tend to be more competitive than other residencies. You may not even want to, as surgery is generally very grueling and not everyone wants to be tortured for 5 years after med school. For now, just focus on getting into med school, and you can decide what you want later -- you don't even apply to residency until your last year of medical school.
 
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