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Help for Budding Physician Scientists

Discussion in 'Physician Scientists' started by QofQuimica, Apr 16, 2007.

  1. QofQuimica

    QofQuimica Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting....
    Administrator Physician PhD Faculty Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 10+ Year Member

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    I wanted to ask you forum regulars if you'd be interested in creating a thread to help people from a variety of backgrounds who want to become physician scientists. I just got back from the APSA meeting, and one of the things that we discussed there multiple times was the need to recruit more people to do medical research. I am thinking that several of us should write posts in the following areas; if you can think of more paths to physician scientist-dom that I've forgotten, or if you'd be willing to write a post with advice/your experience about going that route, please sign on here. We can have more than one person work on the same topic, so if any of you fellow PhDs want to write about your experience going to med school, feel free to chime in. Likewise, the more MD/PhD people who want to write posts, the better. After we have enough experience and advice posts, I'll organize them into a user-friendly thread that we can sticky at the top of the forum.

    Experience/Advice on Becoming a Physician Scientist:

    MSTP or formal MD/PhD program:

    PhD-to-MD: QofQuimica

    MD-only physician scientist:

    PhD-only clinical researcher:

    MD/MS (five year MD):

    DO/PhD:

    MD-to-PhD:

    DDS/PhD:

    DVM/PhD:
     
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  3. Hard24Get

    Hard24Get The black sleepymed
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    I think this is a good idea. I would be happy to help with the traditional MSTP stuff, though there are plenty of us almost finished. What I would really like is a mentor forum for physician-scientist wannabes, or a faculty member guru on this forum that can provide advice.


     
  4. QofQuimica

    QofQuimica Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting....
    Administrator Physician PhD Faculty Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 10+ Year Member

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    Yes, but there are always new people, and premeds far outnumber med and grad students on this forum. I totally agree with you about the mentor idea. I asked beary to be an advisor in this forum because she's an MD/PhD resident. But she is obviously very busy and doesn't post too much. Besides her, do we have any other physician scientists reading who are already out of school and would be willing to give advice to students?

    Here are some questions people may want to consider answering for younger students and premeds. Feel free to skip any that don't apply or add others. I'll post my own answers soon.

    1) What type of pathway are you taking to become a physician scientist, and how far along are you?

    2) What general advice do you have for people who want to become physician scientists by the same route you took?

    3) What application advice would you give to people who want to follow your track?

    4) What do you wish you had done differently if you could do it all again?
     
  5. kanzure

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    Hey all, I am a student that still has the opportunity to decide on whether or not I will join up with the rest of you and go the route of physician-scientist, perhaps through the NIH MSTP program, etc.

    As not having made up my mind, what would be most useful is figuring out where to meet mentors that can significantly expand horizons. You know the type, the mentors that border on being polymaths, geniuses of sorts, willing to devote time enough to bring an earthling up to the current tempo of science/living.

    How are we supposed to find where to find the better mentors? The college admission processes are largely going in reverse: you look at the surface, and hope you get the good professors there. Heh. Not good!

    What I did is I took a look at a list of MSTP colleges and then narrowed down the selection range to those schools that also have engineering programs that look appropriate, but this is just extra filth to add into this message for those interested in what context this message is coming from: http://heybryan.org/school/edu.html.

    BTW, QofQuimica: Attempted AIM contact maybe ten minutes ago, but you're nowhere to be found. Might try later, see if you're interested in some quick discussion on these subjects.

    - Bryan
     
  6. QofQuimica

    QofQuimica Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting....
    Administrator Physician PhD Faculty Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 10+ Year Member

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    You've done an impressive bit of work compiling that list! Thanks for posting the link; I'm sure other people will find it useful also.

    I didn't discuss finding a mentor in my post because my pathway is really for people who are post-PhD and presumably don't have this problem of picking a lab. But I wholeheartedly agree with Ultra's advice that picking the right mentor is essential for those of you heading off to do PhDs. So many grad students wrongly assume that it's most important to have a cutting edge project in the hottest lab during grad school. But the thing is, if you wind up working for a total jerk, you could work for 5+ years and not get out with a PhD, and it won't matter how hot your prof was. (I know people who fell into this very sad trap.) Plus, most people do post docs afterward, and your grad school research won't matter as much for your future career as your post doc research will.

    My advice for picking labs:

    1) TALK TO CURRENT GRAD STUDENTS AND OTHER LAB WORKERS. At the risk of seeming like I'm shouting at y'all, I want to really emphasize how important this is. If all of the current students/techs/post docs tell you that they're miserable, run very fast away from that lab, no matter how hot the research is.

    2) Look at the graduation rate from that lab. Most profs post the names of every person they've graduated since they started as independent PIs. If your potential mentor has been a prof for 15 or 20 years and doesn't regularly have people graduating from their lab, that should be a HUGE red flag to you. I was the 17th person my PI had graduated in about that much time, and there are some profs with really huge labs who graduate a few PhDs every year. You want to work with someone who pushes grad students to get out in a reasonable amount of time, especially if you're in an MD/PhD program.

    3) At the undergrad pre-med level, talk to upperclassmen about profs who are good mentors for college lab workers. There *are* some profs who like working with college students, so find out who they are at your school, and target those labs. Alternatively, it would also be a good idea to think of working with one of the TAs that you like, because you'll probably end up working on a daily basis with a grad student or post doc and not the prof anyway. I mentored a few UG students that I had taught in my chem classes, and it was good for both of us. They knew something about me and I knew something about them, so there weren't too many surprises.

    I'm not on AIM too often these days, so sorry I missed you. Hope this helps answer your questions though, and best of :luck: to you. :)
     
  7. kanzure

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    And what about seeking out potentially worthwhile mentors before making final decisions on universities or cities to move to? Would something like "professor rating services" (ugh) be appropriate here?

    - Bryan
     
  8. QofQuimica

    QofQuimica Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting....
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    I think that site is more for people who are taking classes, not working in labs. I would advise you to pick a school that you like, where you think you can do well, and ideally that gives you a scholarship or need-based aid so that you don't come out with tons of debt. There are reasonable research opportunities at any university, so focus on getting a good UG education and make sure you can take all the pre-med pre-reqs. You don't want to pick a school just for a research mentor anyway; faculty tend to move around quite a bit. You could get wherever you're going, and Professor Wonderful will up and move halfway across the country on you.
     
  9. QofQuimica

    QofQuimica Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting....
    Administrator Physician PhD Faculty Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 10+ Year Member

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    bumping up.
     
  10. durfen

    durfen I see plans within plans
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    Shouldn't we sticky this?
     
  11. QofQuimica

    QofQuimica Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting....
    Administrator Physician PhD Faculty Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 10+ Year Member

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    I want to clean it up and divide it by subtype. I guess we have enough responses to go ahead and do that.

    Edit: Ok, I set it up. Check out the sticky and tell me what you think. Also, if anyone else wants to add an advice post, you can do it here and I'll move your post, or just post it in the appropriate thread yourself.
     

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