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MPH Got Into Emory MPH...but Also Sent Apps to Medical School. Hmmmm

Discussion in 'Public Health Degrees (Masters and Doctoral)' started by Cadbery, Jun 12, 2018.

  1. Cadbery

    Feb 21, 2018
    Likes Received:
    Here's the situation. I am interested in public health, maybe epidemiology (something that seems interesting to me is working as an applied epidemiologist at the CDC for example). I also have an interest in clinical medicine (though albeit the pig pictures and concepts of medicine interests me more currently). Much of my research on this matter showed that having a MD-MPH would really benefit me in my career options and potential opportunities/flexibility. MD-MPH seems like it would provide me with a very well rounded knowledge base (clinical medicine and epistats. Thus, I recently submitted my medical school application for this next year.

    Thing is, I also (spur of the moment decision) applied to Global Epi MSPH at Emory 3 weeks ago (I know...that's end of May! very late indeed) and just got an acceptance letter. I am very confident that I will get into medical school this coming year so it's not like I would go to Emory just to boost my MD chances. However, I have taken two gap years working in the clinical setting (scribe and technician) and I am not keen on taking ANOTHER gap year (had to due to personal circumstances).

    Here are my pros and cons for accepting Emory versus waiting to start medical school: I would appreciate if anyone looked at this list and gave some more suggestions/insights (especially if I have some misconceptions...which ya know...because I am human)

    Accepting Emory

    Pro: I want a MPH anyways. Going now will mean that I save a year of waiting for MD school

    Pro: I am interested in working at the CDC...Emory is right there!

    Pro: I may find that other routes like PHD or drPH fit me better than MD after all...would save me some loans

    Con: Expensive! A) MPH is usually one year for MD graduates and is cheaper (so it would be more expensive if I pursue this now) B) I hear that some residencies (I think I want to do primary or infectious disease) pay for MPH education?? If so then much cheaper in the long run to do MD first

    Con: Might put too much distance between me and clinical care for me to feel comfortable applying to medical school.

    Con: I could wait one more year and apply to the top 5 mph schools (deadline were past when I decided to apply this time around). I would likely get into JHU which is #1...but Emory is pretty legit so not sure waiting a year is worth it.

    Waiting for MD

    Pro: I could spend this year gaining experience in public health. I am applying to a few fellowships at the CDC

    Pro: As above, could be cheaper in terms of getting a MPH later

    Pro: Starting off with the "stronger" degree (aka the degree that will hold the most water/importance in my future career potential) seems suitable/proper? Not sure if that makes sense, but its like getting the hardest assignment done first.

    Con: waiting another gap year when I already feel like 2 years has been too many

    Con: I am open to the possibility of pursuing something other than MD (MD just seems like the practical, more educational, and higher potential choice right now).

    Con: Doing a MPH first may actually help me orient myself properly. I am interested in public health, but without a background in it, I think it would be hard to keep myself on a clinical/public health track when the only experience I would be getting in medical school and residency would be clinical.
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  3. wwmmkk

    2+ Year Member

    May 21, 2016
    Likes Received:
    Other Health Professions Student
    This is a dilemma that seems to frequently come up on this forum in one way or another. I think, in your case, your certainty about your interests and career path matters a lot. I'd encourage you to think about the following questions (don't feel like you have to answer here):

    - On a scale of 1-10, how certain are you that you want to pursue global epidemiology right now?
    - On a scale of 1-10, how certain are you that you want to be an MD right now?
    - What other opportunities can you create for yourself to explore and/or pursue your professional interests?

    The reasons I ask is because both an MD or the MSPH would be a ton of debt to take on for something you are not totally certain about. It seems like right now, you can see your career going in a bunch of different ways, and it's not clear from what you've written which of those ways you would actually prefer. I'd discourage you from starting the MSPH or med school without being very certain (bare minimum of an 8 on that 1-10 scale) that you want to follow that path.

    You seem very excited about Emory. I wonder how much of that is a reaction to the opportunity to feel like you're moving forward from your gap year experiences (doesn't sound like you're enjoying being a scribe/tech!) and how much of that is excitement re: global epidemiology and Emory's program.

    I'd say if you genuinely examine your motives (which may take a conversation with the folks at Emory as well) and conclude that you are 8+ certain about global epidemiology, <8 certain about MD, and thrilled by Emory's program, then go get the MPH now. If you're <8 certain about global epidemiology and 8+ certain about MD, then wait another year for med school regardless of how you feel about Emory's program and get the MPH later when it's cheaper. And if you're not 8+ certain about either global epidemiology or MD, then find some way to do some soul searching-- hopefully one that won't put you into debt!

    Good luck! Making these decisions is tough. Don't be afraid to take some more time before med school if need it-- you'll be better for it in the long run.
    Cadbery likes this.
  4. delimitedtab

    2+ Year Member

    Feb 25, 2016
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    Unless you go to a top tier program (in biostats) you won't learn stats well from an MPH or epidemiology program, generally speaking. Many schools make the clear distinction that biostats classes for the nonbiostats MS/PhD degrees are watered down and very basic. If you want to go to medical school, go to medical school and take courses for an epidemiology masters in MS1 summer and finish it in later or start before if you can (assuming you want epidemiology). If you have the mathematics background, do the same but with a biostats masters program (not MPH biostats concentration), assuming you want to have some biostats capacity.

    I think you have valid points, but if you want to go to medical school, I think it would be good to take an acceptance provided you're okay with the school. You can always get into a masters program, even more so being an MD student, but you can't always get into medical school.

    I think it's important to decide what kind of masters coursework you really want. If you want to be public health, do public health, epidemiology then do epidemiology, biostats then do biostats in their own respective degree programs. Taking 3 epi courses in an MPH doesn't make you an epidemiologist and if you're going to learn the stuff anyway, you may as well take the more rigorous path to get a real foundation and take as many courses as you want (same applies if you actually want a good biostats background, then go the biostats route). Whichever is the priority for your, go that route. But don't be fooled by recruiters or people with MPH degrees telling you that just get an MPH to be a statistician or epidemiologist. That's like telling someone to obtain a chemistry degree to become a biologist because you can take 4 bio courses. Go directly at your priority.
  5. Dwan

    7+ Year Member

    Oct 4, 2011
    Likes Received:
    Medical Student
    It looks like your motivations are mainly prestige-driven (1. Not wanting to get off the waitlist for MD last year because you didn't feel the school was good enough despite having no acceptances, 2. Thinking about taking yet another year to try for JHU MPH). If you want an MD, go for the MD, and it doesn't matter where you do it. You can do a 1-yr MPH anywhere in the nation during the MD or get a free one during residency (some MD schools will also provide you funding to do an MPH elsewhere, or you could try for a scholarship). Also, if you don't have very clear goals right now about what you want with the MPH, it won't help "orient" you during the MD, which is a rigid curriculum, and you'll probably forget a lot by the time you graduate; it's easier to use the MD to orient how you want to use the MPH as the MPH is much more flexible.
    JDGBruin1317 and wwmmkk like this.

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