Medical How influential would a second masters degree be for a non-trad looking to go MD/PhD?

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GoSpursGo

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I am a non trad, my BS is in Public Health. A year after graduating I entered an MPH program while working as a youth program coordinator intending on a Program Management degree. I began my coursework just after a difficult breakup while I was working 3 jobs. I am not making excuses but I was not in the headspace to succeed, thus the first 16 credits I got Bs and B-. I have since greatly improved my academic performance and changed my concentration to epidemiology and biostatistics. I realized my interest in clinical medicine and research along the way and considered PA and medical school in-depth. I began working as a CNA and Medical Assistant, and volunteering on a mobile clinic. I love working as CNA and medical assistant listening to and caring for patients but I also have a deep interest in research and academia and love the idea of one day teaching others. After much consideration and talking to other practicing clinicians (An NP, MD, and MD/MPH) partly because the role of advanced practice providers in research is not well-defined, I believe my interests would be best served by pursuing an MD/PhD degree, in epidemiology and I am particularly interested in the emerging field of dermatoepidemiology.

That brings me to my question; there is an MS in skin biology and dermatological sciences program at the University of Miami that has a thesis track. Currently, my research experience is limited to coursework and the co-op project I will be completing this summer as the final requirement for my degree. Looking ahead would you advise me to A) enter the workforce and get a job doing whatever research I can B) enter this program and design my own research project for a thesis in my specific interest or C) do both. I am of course concerned about the cost of this program as I am already in debt from undergrad and my current program but if it would significantly bolster my MD/PhD app it would be worth it.

For context, my undergrad GPA was 3.4 and I expect to finish this program with a 3.5 (upward trend after 2.85 first semester). I completed a diy post-bacc at CC and got all A's minus one B. I know that an impressive MCAT score can really help so I plan to take a class and study for a year before taking it with a goal of 520. I plan to apply 2023-2024. I know it is a long shot but any insight helps. One of the MDs I spoke to said that I will be helped by the fact I am a female minority but I don't know how true this is. Thank you in advance!
Really, med school admissions only will care about your GPA from undergrad classes; your MPH doesn't really move the needle and an MS won't help.

How many credit hours did you do in the post-bacc, and what is your cumulative undergrad GPA/sGPA including all undergrad courses together? Traditionally someone with a lower GPA will need a full year's worth of courses to prove that you have reinvented yourself so if you don't have a full year's worth I would pursue that course of action. Beyond that everything really depends on the MCAT score, so it's impossible to give you a sense of your chances without knowing that--everyone aims to get a 520 but not everyone can do it.
 

TheBoneDoctah

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520 MCAT goal? That's good that you want to shoot high but you may start to get anxious and defeated if you aren't coming anywhere near that on your practices (and that is the case for 98% of people taking this exam). I would start with a realistic goal slightly higher than the average...so say 512+. Try to get there. If you start scoring higher, then increase your goal if you would like.

Your MS and MPH won't factor into your GPA. What is your reasoning for getting the PhD? If it is only research, you can do research with only the MD as well.
 

TheBoneDoctah

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Thanks for your reply! I appreciate that 520 may be too high of a goal but I think if I study effectively and for long enough I have to do quite well, I hope so at least. I will see where I am to start and adjust my goal accordingly.

I want to pursue the PhD because I want the training and education that comes with it and I’m interested in the advancing field of dermatoepidemiology so it would be my dream to attend a school doing established work in this area. I’m considering pursuing a PhD separately as well.
Again, I appreciate your goals...but just be aware that 520 is 98th percentile. The length of time you study doesn't always equal a higher score and sometimes it will lead to a lower score. You will notice when you study that you will plateau...and then your scores will start to decrease as you start forgetting details from earlier in your studying.
 

GoSpursGo

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I appreciate your response! I don’t mean the influence of an MS in terms of raising my GPA, but in establishing my research background specifically for MD/PhD programs.

But to answer your questions, I did about 42hrs in the post bacc and got all As save three A- and a B. My cumulative undergraduate GPA is 3.4. Is more attention paid to cumulative undergrad sGPA (not sure what mine is) or total overall sGPA?

I know my grades are less than stellar but I don’t see them as a huge weakness... am I off-base here? I just think 3.4 is average enough to be bolstered by other parts of an application.
I mean... 3.4 is objectively below the average for every MD school. Yes, it is possible for it to be bolstered by other parts of the application which underscores the necessity of doing well on the MCAT, but without a doubt your GPA is going to be the weakest part of your application.

The good news is that 42 hours is a pretty decent chunk and I would generally say it seems like you showed that you're a different person than you once were. When discussing GPA, just assume we're always talking undergrad GPA (including sGPA).

In terms of which path will set you up better for MD/PhD programs, honestly I don't know that one is demonstrably better than the other. I would probably lean towards getting a job just to help prepare to finance the application process and because hopefully your schedule would be a little more open at night to study for the MCAT rather than work on your thesis. At the end of the day your goal needs to simply get into med school, period, and assuming that you have all the other boxes like clinical experience checked based off your work as a CNA I really would focus all your effort on the MCAT.
 
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GoSpursGo

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You’re right about that! I did not realize the average med-school GPA was 3.71! So my other grades don’t matter in my GPA just undergrad?
Correct. Fairly or unfairly, adcom members don't know what to make of masters-level classes and how difficult/easy they are. So they look at your undergrad grades, with a particular eye towards your science courses.
 
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