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Discussion in 'Physician Scientists' started by exigente chica, Nov 22, 2002.
hey. sorry about that.
just immediately, i'd say, do NOT... do NOT listen to only one person's advice. no matter how much they mean good, and may no alot. why can't you do both, do you think? If you really want it, i think you can achieve it.
When is MCATs for you? Good luck with them, and don't get too nervous.
exigente, between two points there are many paths (yes, it's one of those cheesy chinese proverbs...but it's true). For one it may just be that your advisor is so focused on the path taken before that they cannot see you on it. For example you could
1. Prove the advisor wrong
2. Do a PhD, then do an MD (not what I would suggest)
3. Do an MD then a postdoc (a reasonable option if you want the MD and to do research)
4. Get into an MD program at a school that accepts it's own MD students into its PhD programs during 1st or 2nd year (probably what I would do in your situation).
Not everyone says nice things all the time. There's always one pooper in the bunch. One of the people writing my LORs happened to ask my GPA ...
me: It's sorta low, only a 3.2
Him: What school did you go to?
me: a state school..
him (frowning, eyebrows raising, smirk growing): you need above average numbers to even get looked at for MSTP programs...don't they screen?
me (thinking, what an a-hole, thanx, thanx A LOT): uh, well all the schools sent me secondaries, so at least I made the first cut (butthead, an aside to myself)
GRRRRR, he made me feel so bad that I considered applying to masters/post bac programs right after I left his office. Actually, I wanted to go home and cry about all the money I wasted applying. But I got over it. (still getting over it) I know he was just telling me how it is, and not everyone is going to hold my hand through the whole process, but it's discouraging none-the less. I know he's writing a good letter b/c he's making the effort to write me two; one for my MD apps and one for my MSTP apps.
Keep your head up EC. Let it make you stronger. I know it's hard to build up your confidence after someone says something like that. But come interviews, which you should get, you'll need to show that you have more confidence in yourself than your advisor.
If I were you, I'd aim for option 1 on boy wonder's list.
Good luck on the MCAT!
Hi exigente chica,
I agree with nina, prove your professor wrong. Hey, you only live once so why not try it out. But then there are many ways to become a physician scientist. Good luck!
ps. My stats are low even for some MD programs but I still received MSTP interview invites to some amamzing locations.
There is no ideal MD/PhD candidate. The one common link is a love of biomed research. You can do this, score as good as you can on the MRAT. But don't get bent if you have to take it twice. I did and it turned out great. We can chat privately about it if you want. Present yourself in the best light, apply to the schools where your research interests match-mine ended up being a nice spread across all tiers, MSTP and MD/PhD.
You are probably in a low right now, but don't let anybody steal this dream from you. In your mind, you will get there soon, that this is your path and no other will do. Once you decide that this will be yours, noone will make you waiver again.
Take care, if you need anything, I'm here. I have been through this self-doubt.
Despite your last post, I can't help throwing in my two cents. First off, don't let the mean people (or people just having bad days) get you down. Secondly, I've been mulling a related problem since before I starting applying. Thanks to my research background and connections (horrible that is makes a difference, but true) I know I would have a solid shot at some of the most competitive PhD programs. My GPA and MCATs though "ain't gorgeous". So, I thought, should I get just the PhD at a super competitive school. or get the training I really want, perhaps not at the most competitive MSTP...
I think I answered my own question in the last two days. I did my first interview in a place I've never ever been (UAB), and didn't think I'd like. It's not the most competitive MSTP or PhD, obviously. But the fact is the the MSTP is really good, I *loved* Birmingham, it's well organized, and a lot of people work really hard to keep it the shining glory at UAB. I'd much rather get the training I really want there, where the MSTPers get a lot of attention, than get the straight PhD at one of the many big names where I'd be nothing new. (No offense intended of course to the big names, or those of you getting into them, you're awesome.)
My best mentor was a straight PhD, got his training at the University of Maine. But he got the chance to really shine there, got a lot of attention, was a happy person because he got to go hiking a lot, and it took him in a straight path to his dream appointment at NIH.
Good luck, and hang in there!
I think that it's only worth it if you are absloutely certain that you want to practice medicine sometime in your career. Honestly, there is a prejudice in the academia for "names" (I know this for sure from the tones of my professors when they talk about selecting people for a faculty position.) Of course you'd make it if you have an amazing publication record and so forth, but where you get your Ph.D. (and with whom) is EXTREMELY important in determining where you'd go after you get your Ph.D.
The M.D. part, however, is sort of customary. It doesn't really matter, except perhaps for getting competitive residencies. So if you really want to be a doctor, then you should get the MD for licensure purposes (so you can get the funding and patient base, for clincial trials, for example), and then go to a top notch Ph.D. program, I'm sure you'd be able to get in.
Thirdly, there are around 30-40 MSTP in the country, and they are more or less good at something or other. But, overall, these are the best institutions for biomedical sciences. So if you get into ANY of the MSTP institutions, you'd be set to go for a faculty position ANYWHERE. UAB for example, despite the fact that it's not "supposedly" all that prestigious, is actually a highly reputable name, within the circle. The "name" factor is valuable to a point. After that it's the name of your advisor, your papers etc. In the wise words of my boss, "it's not where you go; it's whom you know."
I would advise that if you're truly interested in MD/PhD programs, you won't let an advisor deter you from your goal. Is the insecurity you are feeling purely a result of what your advisor said? Or is it a reflection on doubts about your own goals?
If, after reassessing your aspirations, you find that you are intent on MD/PhD, then I would say that you should apply. Even if not accepted by the MD/PhD program, at most schools you will be then evaluated as a regular medical school applicant. If you weren't admitted to an MD/PhD program, but got into med school, you could join the MD/PhD program second cycle.
As a person above mentioned, there are many possible routes to the same goal. You have to first figure out what you want and then go for it. If sufficiently determined, you will find your way.
Please feel free to contact me if you want to chat (I'm a current MSTP student).
I've been accepted to my top choice for the MD (my state school), and want to add the PhD. I'm in a lab I love, doing what I think is very important work, and I love my PI and co-PI. The only question is how long will the PhD take and if I can get funding for the MD. I'll apply for an MSTP slot next year, but I'm not holding my breath as my stats aren't outstanding (low 30s MCAT, 3.3 Ugrad, 3.7 Grad).
as a current MSTP applicant who was in a PhD program, I have some 2 cents to give. I think if your career goals require you to get an MD, then getting a PhD first would be a big mistake. My graduate program was with the medical school (biomedical physics), and I worked with many doctors who were research focused who DO NOT have a PhD but whose research is very respected. If I could do it all over again, I would have done the med school route first and then done a research based residency (they even have residency's that you can get a PhD in!), but that's just me. If you really want both degrees, doing a PhD first and MD after will most likely take you longer than doing an MD/PhD program, and your med school years would not be funded. But all that aside, why don't you just apply MSTP, if they don't want you then you are automatically considered for their MD (at most places, otherwise they are separate apps like at Wash U which is even better). The only med school I know of where you must choose one or the other is U of Chicago. Apply early, and if you don't hear from any schools by December then apply to the PhD programs you are interested in as a fall back (you can apply to both simultaneously at most schools). Some schools even have a cross over option into their MSTP from the PhD program (i.e. Sinai and Einstein). All that being said, if you get into a med school and not MSTP and you want the PhD, it isn't hard to do. ANY med school would let a student break to do a PhD, its a matter of funding. I'm sure most schools would find a way to fund someone in that case, even if they were not part of MSTP (which the NIH funds). Oh, and don't let anyone tell you you can only do one or the other, thats the dumbest thing I ever heard. There are places where their MSTP is easier to get into than their med school, if your research experience is decent that is (BU comes to mind, I have an interview there in a few weeks as a matter of fact).
Actually, on Monday the MD/PhD office told me that I could apply this year, and that the deadline is Friday. Hey, nothing like having a whole 4 days to get an MSTP application in!