hannahfox

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I am 22 now, will be 23 when I start my PhD program in August.

I am thinking about the possibility of going for a MD after that (I know I end up having to pay A LOT of money and add a year or two to the time I spend in school but my MCAT/GPA is not high enough to get in (GPA ~3.5)).

Average time of completion of PhD at the program I am joining in 5 years.

Also the program I am joining offers a "translational research program" which is, as they describe it, clinical research training for research with humans.

So I am already a year behind (5 years working on a 4 year degree).
What is the average age of matriculation into the MD/PhD programs?
 

Shifty B

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For starters, I don't think that you would be so far behind your colleagues that you would need to worry about it. Probably the average age for starting MD/PhD programs would be 22-23, with the occasional person drifting a little older or younger. I don't think this should be too much of a worry for you until you are getting into your later 20s.

However, if you are just starting your PhD program this year and are pretty sure (> 90%) you want to go to medical school, then I would consider redirecting to medical school by applying to MD or MD/PhD programs this upcoming year. If you're 100% convinced you want both degrees then apply only to MD/PhD programs. I don't think a 3.5 GPA really excludes you if you have good research experience and a good MCAT. Apply broadly and I think you have a reasonable shot.

There are considerable advantages to switching now, including financial advantages, time advantages, as well as greater ease in getting in to medical school. This topic was discussed in another recent thread:

http://forums.studentdoctor.net/showthread.php?t=697246

Good luck and if you have more questions post them.
 

Freak

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I would not worry too much about 1 year ... when you sign up for an MD/PhD that is basically an "error-term" unit of time. Many people actually do an extra year of research, some a Masters (2 yrs) before an MD/PhD.

As long as you do something useful with your current year, I agree with Shifty, you should probably apply direct to MD/PhD ... what is your MCAT btw.
 

hannahfox

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I would not worry too much about 1 year ... when you sign up for an MD/PhD that is basically an "error-term" unit of time. Many people actually do an extra year of research, some a Masters (2 yrs) before an MD/PhD.

As long as you do something useful with your current year, I agree with Shifty, you should probably apply direct to MD/PhD ... what is your MCAT btw.

Yeah, i guess I didn't mention this in my original post; I am not 100% sure I want to go into medicine. I know I want to do research and am pretty sure I would end up doing research if I went to a pure MD program. Health care in the US has me a little (almost negligible) worried so I would rather wait and see what the future holds.


My MCAT was a 21Q. GPA is a 3.49 ATM (will be a 3.5ish when I graduate);
Upward trend of over the last 4 semesters is 3.785 (50 credit hours), and GPA over the last 3 semesters is 3.97973 (37 credit hours); last 2 semesters 4.00 (30 credit hours).
sGPA is ~3.50 because my last year was 100% Psychology classes (and unless they becomes a "science" in the eyes of the AMCAS or w/e they are called, it won't change).

I also have two bachelors degrees on in Biology (minor in Chemistry) and one in Psychology (minor in Physics).

I am pretty sure (my EC's are not that good) I couldn't get into a MSTP and am not 100% sure I want a MD. I just want to be aware of how far behind my colleagues I will be. When ever I think about it and mention "I may not be done with school + residency untill I am ~37-38 I always get a "wtf"... I don't care about that (so long as my "good health" doesn't suddenly become "bad health") but I do care about possibly being 5-6 years older than my colleagues. That is, as long as I am not starting "real work" (post residency) significantly older than my peers (with the same degrees...) I am fine with the work. I would feel a little depressed (I am sure) if I started a job, and somebody w/ the exact same degrees is 5-6 years yonger than me. Hell, I had to spend an extra year in undergrad to get this second bachelors degree and I feel out of place.

Should I do the "tranlational research" program? (I am not sure if it would take longer)....

BTW, maybe you guys could answer this, if not I understand... What would I need to do (if it is even possible) to get into a top MD program? Clearly my UGPA is not competitive.
 
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StIGMA

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Different opinion--
Based on what you have been saying, it seems you are focused way too much on how you will be perceived by your colleagues. Your age is important in relation to your own life goals and perhaps expectations of your close friends/family. Your age is not an important factor in comparing yourself to your colleagues. Your are in your early/mid-20's now, and looking to the left and right, it seems every year matters and each year is a year behind. Don't forget that once you step out of this race to get into programs, no-one cares how old you are, just that you decided to join an esteemed profession (be it medicine or research). Do you think your colleagues will even know how old you are if you are a 36 yo resident? If so, do they care? Once you are in this position, will it matter to you if another resident is a couple years younger than you (or same age and a few positions ahead)?

The more important thing is that you pick the right profession. Your age is secondary (relating to your own goals - not the opinions of random colleagues you won't meet for another decade). Pick the right profession first.

If you are not set on clinical medicine, I would advise against the MD. If you absolutely want to have clinical medicine as part of your career and also research, it may save you time and will definitely save you money to apply asap to MD/PhD programs (read the FAQ about competitiveness, check MD applicants for how other people fared). Expect most schools to take your highest single session MCAT score, although it will be unfavorable to take it more than 3 times (a 34+ would really help you; some schools may average, especially if more than 3 -- but expect schools to judge you on your most recent score).

If you have a very research-heavy application right now, don't expect for it to be any easier to get into an MD program after you finish a PhD (ie: your best shot may be for MD/PhD programs right now). Also, don't expect to take 5 years for your PhD -- you have absolutely no guarantee you won't be in your program for 7 years or longer. If your career aspirations demand both degrees, then and only then go for the MD/PhD (and we would advise you, if competitive, to apply). Shifty B is right on.
 
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Don't worry about age. As long as your healthy and mature it won't matter if you are 25 or 35. If anything, having a few more gray hairs gets you some additional respect from the support staff.
 

Freak

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I would add that we had a contest in our first year of med school to figure out who was the oldest. We had a 32 yo, 31yo, several upper 20's and a boat load of 22-23yo (I think we had a youngster at 19 too). This was all in the same med school class and once we figured this out, it really was no different.

Actually some of the older crowd did better because they had more life experience and were not as "fresh meat" and the youngsters. At least within the MSTP crowd, the common knowledge/thought is that when you are in the clinics and your residents are about your same age, you can relate to them better. So, you would just be able to relate to attendings better in med school ... all the more power (as they determine your grades) :)


I agree with the other posters, you need to kick up the MCAT to get a top med school position. I think you could do it with a 32 minimum (but you would be locking yourself out of some good places). Eventually, you have to make sure that medicine is worth it to you. You are signing up for an extra 4 + 3-4 + fellowship years worth of work (many of them hard).
 

hannahfox

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Thank you for all the advice;

I had a typo (said 31Q); I meant 21Q. Very poor I know =(.

Hopefully I can make this work as I am now hearing earning a PhD will actually hurt my chances at getting into a MD school. :bang:
 

StIGMA

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There are plenty of PhD graduates that enroll in med school every year. It may not hurt you, but it may not help you either. The point is that if you require both degrees for your career aspirations, it is better for you to do it in a combined MD/PhD program. Moreover, the chances of you actually going through and applying to an MD program 5-7 years from now is likely lower than if you were to apply for the program now.

I am sure there are great advisors at UF; talk to them and figure out what you need to do for your career goals. Again, only if you see yourself making clinical work a substantial (20-100%) portion of your career should you go to medical school. It may otherwise just be a less effective use of your time compared to what you could be doing with research in those extra years (med school + residency).
 

QofQuimica

Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting....
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Thank you for all the advice;

I had a typo (said 31Q); I meant 21Q. Very poor I know =(.

Hopefully I can make this work as I am now hearing earning a PhD will actually hurt my chances at getting into a MD school. :bang:
No, having a PhD will not hurt your chances of getting into an MD school. Assuming the rest of your app is competitive for medical school, it may even give you some advantage. Your GPA is pretty average for MD matriculants (avg. is 3.6 for allo schools, so you're pretty much dead on). However, having a 21 MCAT will greatly hurt your chances of getting into an MD school. So will a lack of clinical experience (ex. shadowing, volunteering in a hospital or other clinical setting, etc.)

As a PhD-to-MD, I am ten years older than my trad classmates, so I'll be 36 when I start my residency next year. The concerns you have about being older than your peers when you start "real work" are exaggerated, in my opinion. My peers from college who went straight to med school are attendings now, but I can't say it has ever occurred to me to be depressed about this. Yes, they are further along this medicine path than I am, but I've had a variety of experiences that they haven't, including getting a PhD and some of my work experiences. Beyond some good-natured ribbing, my being older is a non-issue to my classmates. Ironically, in fact, some of my trad classmates wish they had taken some time off before going to med school.

My advice would be the same as those who have recommended that you do a combined MD/PhD program *if* you were sure that you wanted both degrees. However, since you are not sure that you want an MD but you do want a research career, my advice is that you should go to grad school. Med school is not a good place to find yourself, so to speak. You should only go to med school if you want to become a physician.

Best of luck to you. :)

P.S. I am from FL also--I went to New College.
 

Shifty B

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With a 21 on MCAT it's not that top medical schools are out of reach to you. It's that all medical schools (in the US) are out of reach. The only way for you to go to medical school would be to improve drastically. Whether you applied now or later the same question will arise about the MCAT. Right now, medical school is out of reach for you.

But that's not necessarily a bad thing. It sounds like you've already been accepted to a PhD program that you are interested in and that you could see yourself pursuing a career. It also sounds like you're not necessarily convinced you wanted to be a physician anyway. If you aren't convinced, it's definitely not worth it.

I think there are a lot of people that are driven to go to medical school for various reasons. Partially it's because in our society most people who are interested in science are funneled into medicine. That doesn't mean it's the only interesting career for you or that you can't do something exciting that doesn't involve medical school.

I say take the graduate school position and go forward from there. If you become convinced that medical school is for you at some time in the next 3-4 years then you can retake the MCAT and try again later.
 

hannahfox

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With a 21 on MCAT it's not that top medical schools are out of reach to you. It's that all medical schools (in the US) are out of reach. The only way for you to go to medical school would be to improve drastically. Whether you applied now or later the same question will arise about the MCAT. Right now, medical school is out of reach for you.

But that's not necessarily a bad thing. It sounds like you've already been accepted to a PhD program that you are interested in and that you could see yourself pursuing a career. It also sounds like you're not necessarily convinced you wanted to be a physician anyway. If you aren't convinced, it's definitely not worth it.

I think there are a lot of people that are driven to go to medical school for various reasons. Partially it's because in our society most people who are interested in science are funneled into medicine. That doesn't mean it's the only interesting career for you or that you can't do something exciting that doesn't involve medical school.

I say take the graduate school position and go forward from there. If you become convinced that medical school is for you at some time in the next 3-4 years then you can retake the MCAT and try again later.

I know that. I did not study a while lot for the MCAT (my score was 8,8,5 B,P,V respectively). I was completely unprepared. Hadn't even taken Biochem... Hopefully I am smart enough to even get a decent score with enough practice.

Thanks for the advice. That is what I am planning on doing.