Aug 19, 2015
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Long-time lurker, first-time member/poster, etc. Looking for advice/encouragement. Hopefully I don't come across too whiny.

I'm a GS1 a couple of months into the lab, and I did not realize what a blow it would be to not be continuing to MS3, and am experiencing a bit of a psychological shock during the transition. I absolutely love the people and mentors in my lab and our research area is interesting, but at the same time, after these few months I don't feel like much has been accomplished. Yes, our project is slowly moving forward and we're slowly amassing publishable data, but my MS3 friends are getting to do all kinds of cool stuff, and they're quickly amassing more medical knowledge on a daily basis. My medical knowledge is at best stagnating, and the new things I'm learning for potential thesis projects, while interesting to me, induce a fugue state in others.

I know research is slow, but does it ever feel...less slow? More rewarding? How do/did you get through the awful slow/minimally productive periods?

There are parts of research that I still love (basically everything but the actual experiment-doing), so there might be hope. But, it doesn't help that my school has a tiny MD/PhD program, so I don't really have that many people to go to for advice, or who really understand the program and my options.

If I quit now, I would be one year behind my former classmates, which I would be fine with. I'm supposed to take my quals in the Spring semester and am kind of considering just toughing it out until then to see if anything changes. My Step 1 score isn't SDN average, but I'm not interested in any of the competitive specialties, so the ever-increasing average probably won't affect me if I do stay on team MD/PhD.

So, internet people who may have been in my shoes, what do you think of my situation and what advice do you have? Thanks for any help.
 

ratherbefishing

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What you describe sounds like the normal reaction to starting the grad school phase of an MSTP. That feeling never really goes away until you return to med school.
 
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Neuronix

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Hopefully I don't come across too whiny.
That's my job around here...

I absolutely love the people and mentors in my lab and our research area is interesting,
Awesome!

but at the same time, after these few months I don't feel like much has been accomplished.
Normal. Productivity in a lab is an exponential growth curve.

my MS3 friends are getting to do all kinds of cool stuff, and they're quickly amassing more medical knowledge on a daily basis. My medical knowledge is at best stagnating, and the new things I'm learning for potential thesis projects, while interesting to me, induce a fugue state in others.
Normal. You'll get back into clinic eventually. Your pre-clinical knowledge doesn't matter much in the long-term. You'll get back in the swing of things.

I know research is slow, but does it ever feel...less slow? More rewarding?
To me research has become less slow and less rewarding. Don't worry about that.

How do/did you get through the awful slow/minimally productive periods?
Reassurance. :)
 
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gutonc

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There are parts of research that I still love (basically everything but the actual experiment-doing), so there might be hope. But, it doesn't help that my school has a tiny MD/PhD program, so I don't really have that many people to go to for advice, or who really understand the program and my options.
This is actually key. The experiments are a means to an end. If you don't love the other stuff, you won't be successful in a research career. This is something I learned too late.
 
Aug 19, 2015
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MD/PhD Student
Awesome, thanks for the encouragement. Physician Scientist SDN seems way chiller than regular SDN. :)

I've never been so hot and cold about something in my life, so it's both terrifying and reassuring that this is normal. I'll definitely keep mulling things over.

Presenting thesis topic proposals to my PI next week, and then it's time for committee selection, so we'll see how things keep going.

Side question, though:

My program currently doesn't have this required, but I've been thinking about shadowing a physician during the grad school years, nothing major just a few hours here and there. Did you guys do anything like that, and did you think it helped at all with anything?
 

Neuronix

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I've been thinking about shadowing a physician during the grad school years, nothing major just a few hours here and there. Did you guys do anything like that, and did you think it helped at all with anything?
I did. It was helpful in some ways. The unfortunate soul died in his sleep unexpectedly a few months before I defended my thesis though.
 
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