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If you could ask a program director one question...

Discussion in 'Physician Scientists' started by JHopRevisit, Jun 19, 2008.

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  1. JHopRevisit

    JHopRevisit 7+ Year Member

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    What would it be? I know the application process can be kind of mystifying, so we're going to try to do an interview with my school's program director and some of his colleagues, post it on our website, and see if we can't answer some of your questions for you. "Politically incorrect" questions are encouraged, we're looking for stuff you wouldn't normally feel able to ask as an applicant. Questions can be on anything ranging from what a program looks for and what amount of research experience do I need to the future of MD/PhD's and translational research. Post it here and I'll try to get your questioned answered for you.
     
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  3. Neuronix

    Neuronix Total nerd SDN Advisor SDN Administrator 10+ Year Member

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    What is the actual percentage of your graduates that go on to have a career that is mostly comprised of research.
     
  4. seraph524

    seraph524 M0 2+ Year Member

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    What do you think about Soulja Boy...do you hate him as much as me?
     
  5. QofQuimica

    QofQuimica Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting.... Lifetime Donor SDN Administrator 10+ Year Member

    Ok, this one is as politically uncorrect as I can possibly be without touching race, religion, or politics. ;)

    Although it is not legal for medical schools to discriminate based upon age, many older applicants have the sense that it happens frequently anyway, especially given the relatively subjective nature of medical school admissions. What is honestly the oldest starting age that you feel would be acceptable for an MD/PhD student? Assume that the candidate's grades, MCAT, research experience, etc. made them otherwise competitive for your program.
     
  6. JHopRevisit

    JHopRevisit 7+ Year Member

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    If you're interesting for Hopkins, we have it on our website: http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/mdphd/graduates/Positions.html .

    Edit: Never mind, I get what you mean now: clinical vs. research. Yes, that is really interesting for obvious reasons. Honestly I don't think we have that info, but the NIH ought to track it to justify the taxpayer expense. Doubt that they do. Will ask his thoughts.

    Perfect, that's exactly the sort of thing I'm looking for.
     
  7. Neuronix

    Neuronix Total nerd SDN Advisor SDN Administrator 10+ Year Member

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    After looking at that site I want to ask: what is the average time to graduation among students who have graduated in the last 5 years?

    What is the drop out rate from the program? Percentages that have left their PhD, left their MD, or left both would be especially interesting.

    Is there a difference in drop out rate and career choice (EXCLUDE "in training") between students who received funding and students who did not receive funding for medical school? I am curious as Hopkins is one of the few programs that still takes students without full funding.

    Oh while we're on the topic of Hopkins, about how many students per year who apply MD/PhD are referred to the MD committee? Rumor is that my year it was a grand total of 3.
     
  8. Doctor&Geek

    Doctor&Geek 25 > 5 / 15 < 8 Lifetime Donor 10+ Year Member

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    Similarly, how many graduates have R01s or are on P grants, and how does that compare to straight MDs+postdocs & PhDs.

    Incidentally, is Hopkins going to respond to my request for information?
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2008
  9. QofQuimica

    QofQuimica Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting.... Lifetime Donor SDN Administrator 10+ Year Member

    Neuro and D&G, y'all are like bulldogs. No applicant is going to be asking those questions. :laugh: (Although admittedly, they'd probably be better off if they did.)

    I just wanted to say that if any of you premeds want to ask questions but don't want the question associated with you, feel free to PM it to me and I'll post it anonymously for you. I won't mind if your question ruins my chances of getting accepted into JH's MD/PhD program. ;)
     
  10. delirium81

    delirium81 7+ Year Member

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    Is there a known correlation between MCAT score and one's ability as a physician and a scientist. If so, how strong is it. If not, why do schools care about it.

    My sense was that MCAT score can predict future performance as a *student*. The verbal in particular is correlated to USMLE performance, n'est-ce pas? However, I've never heard if there's any actual relationship between score and *physician* ability. And I'm doubting there's much of any correlation as a future predictor of scientific success. At any rate, it's always seemed over-emphasized to me, just curious what a program director thinks about it.
     
  11. JHopRevisit

    JHopRevisit 7+ Year Member

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    I'll see what I can do guys, thanks for the questions. I'm not sure we track a lot of that graduate information (although if you were really interested it'd be relatively easy for you to look up with the NIH's CRISP funding database and alumni lists from a few programs, althought it would take a lot of work) but I'll ask.

    Neuronix, I'm pretty sure that rumor is false, but it's not a high number. However, this is balanced by the fact that we accept a lot more students (of course, without funding) than other programs of our size (12/year), and I've seen some of those students choose an MD-only route after speaking with Dr. Siliciano.

    D&G, what response were you expecting?

    Also, and no offense to Neuronix and D&G, but my original post was more intended for current applicants, and not necessarily as a forum for critiquing the MD-PhD system in general. Neuronix, I've read from some of your posts you're a little bit frustrated with how long your PhD's taking, but there's no need to go on the offensive. :) However, that point about the time it takes to complete a PhD growing over the past years is a valid one, I'll look into it and if there's a difference in the past 5 years I'll change the graph on our website so it's not misleading. However, my instinct is that most students complete in 7-8 (I spoke to a lot of students and the PD about this - I feel it's really important, because it's both nice to get out quickly and it's a reflection of institutional support), so it's still near that 7.2 range, but I'll look at it again to make sure.
     
  12. JHopRevisit

    JHopRevisit 7+ Year Member

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    Hey Neuronix, for our program it has been 7.7 in the last five years, so what you were getting at is correct, it's tracked upward. However, I'll get the full data later; this might be a reflection of the change in types of PhDs that students are completing (basic science vs. more translational, different fields, etc.) and other factors, so I don't have any proof to support your theory that PhD's are taking longer lately as of yet. Then again, maybe the trend will continue, and current students will take eight or more. I guess we'll see.


    For now though, we still have about half finish in 7, and half finish in eight, so I think in any case our stats don't support your theory that MD-PhD's must take eight years. Also, I think that graph on our website is still fairly representative, what do you think? Should I just put up stats for the last five, or for all time?
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2008
  13. Doctor&Geek

    Doctor&Geek 25 > 5 / 15 < 8 Lifetime Donor 10+ Year Member

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    I sent a request for graduate match info to Dr. Siliciano at rsilicia@welch.jhu.edu. I can send the e-mail again to the appropriate person if I can get an e-mail address.
     
  14. Doctor&Geek

    Doctor&Geek 25 > 5 / 15 < 8 Lifetime Donor 10+ Year Member

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    Hard to do if female graduates change names after marrying (or getting divorced!). I hope that tells you that I've tried that method already.
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2008
  15. seraph524

    seraph524 M0 2+ Year Member

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    Do you think Soulja Boy killed hiphop?
     
  16. seraph524

    seraph524 M0 2+ Year Member

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    Boo...this year's applicants aren't as fun as last year's...maybe when interviews start picking up this forum will be more fun!

    *waits for Neuronix to facepalm again*
     
  17. JHopRevisit

    JHopRevisit 7+ Year Member

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    Our website has our matches for the last 10 years or so (http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/mdphd/graduates/Match.html). Is that what you wanted? If it's not, better contacts for that sort of thing might can be found at http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/mdphd/contact.htm. Do you really just cold-email program directors and ask for them to send you graduation lists?

    I guess you're kind of right on the changing names thing, but again, I don't think we have that info either. It's not like our graduates send us emails every time they get married, change names, etc. However, if you're trying to just track general trends, even if a few names are different I think it's OK.
     
  18. Doctor&Geek

    Doctor&Geek 25 > 5 / 15 < 8 Lifetime Donor 10+ Year Member

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    I did with the permission of Bert Shapiro (NIH MSTP admin) and Akabas, Brass, and Wiley (leaders of the MD/PhD GREAT group).
     
  19. Picklesali

    Picklesali M2 2+ Year Member

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    It's only June!

    I didn't even submit my AMCAS til late July last year. there's still time for the 09-ers to prove themselves worthy
     
  20. seraph524

    seraph524 M0 2+ Year Member

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    Hopefully they will redeem themselves...I need entertainment in med school!
     
  21. Neuronix

    Neuronix Total nerd SDN Advisor SDN Administrator 10+ Year Member

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    I am asking questions that are absolutely on applicant's minds. They are absolutely loaded questions, but that's what people want the answers to. It's easy to get feel good or generic answers to feel good questions when you come interview. We may take some advantage of our anonymity on this site, but even then many applicants do not feel comfortable asking these types of questions here. I don't blame them. With everyone posting their undergrads and stats and MDapplicants profiles, you could figure out who people are. I know this from personal conversations I've had numerous times with applicants over the years. If I'm not asking these questions, I guarantee you there's about a dozen lurkers thinking about them. I ask so that when the questions do get asked, a week, a month, even a year from now, I can refer back to this thread and have the real PD's answers. That's what you offered us. I'm not sure I've seen it yet other than the one answer about 7.7 years.

    People ask roughly every month on this forum: what do MD/PhD students end up doing with their careers? They don't know enough yet to ask the question intelligently: i.e. what percentage end up with R01 grants or what percentage end up doing greater than 50% basic science research. Program directors often quote to them, "well x percentage go into academic medicine". Applicants don't know that academic medicine is usually more about generating RVUs than doing research. If you explain to them what these things mean, they will ask these questions.

    People frequently ask what the PhD drop-out rate is. If not on here, I get that question frequently in person. But I can dig up those threads if you prefer.

    The Hopkins MD referral thing just came up in another active thread. It comes up roughly every year.

    As for my critical personality. It's why I'm in science. I am a critic. It has nothing to do with my recent difficulties. If you look back at my posts over the years, you will probably find little has changed. Similarly, when I interviewed I would actually ask some program directors to their face these sorts of questions. I was the only one doing it and I know it hurt me at some schools to actually ask these questions that matter. So now that I'm not applying, I'm asking these questions on behalf of the applicants; as a moderator and as someone who doesn't have to apply for MD/PhD programs again. I also don't have to worry about applying to Hopkins for residency. I still have no desire after they canned that guy for whistleblowing them on the 80 hour work week rules.

    No, I am a corgi. Corgis have this bad habit of nipping at your heels to herd you in the direction they want you to go. It's an instinct ;) Though in all seriousness, Q that's a great idea to offer to post the questions anonymously. The same offer applies for me. If you ever want me to ask something on your behalf in any thread send me a PM. Your identity is safe with me.

    An open offer stands to any program directors that want to answer questions directly. We have an advisor system on SDN. If you are willing to verify your identity to the admins you can have your own account and answer questions submitted anonymously by applicants. This can be in the advisor forum but we will make a redirect for you in this forum as well. It can be your own show without interference from us cranky MD/PhD students.

    I never said it must. I said you should expect it to take 8 years. Your data supports that. Getting done in 7 comes down to luck. You can (and should) try to set yourself up to get done in 7, but as you can see from my posts as well as the posts of others, you may just get screwed.

    I would be very interested to know if this is the case. My intuition tells me this is very unlikely, but feel free to get data.

    [​IMG]

    :D

    There are still two questions floating around from Q and delirium. I look forward to their answers.

    If I may delirium, a big problem with your question has to do with how to define "physician ability". The only real thing you can compare is test score #1 with test score (or passing rate) #2. We do have two things that hold us to accepting high MCAT scores however...

    1) How else can we separate applicants?
    2) USNews rankings weight them.
    I doubt a program director will pull those two reasons out, however.
     
  22. Newquagmire

    Newquagmire 10+ Year Member

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    Rate in order of importance: GPA, MCAT, LOR, Interview

    If I say I want to do something other than "translational research" during the interview, how much does it hurt my chances?
     
  23. seraph524

    seraph524 M0 2+ Year Member

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    Don't forget to include research experience.

    As for the "translational research" question... One of my friends was a student at WashU, and actually worked in the lab of an MD/PhD program interviewer. He was told that one time, the investigator interviewed this one guy who adamantly said he refused to do translational research. Needless to say, he was not accepted.
     
  24. JHopRevisit

    JHopRevisit 7+ Year Member

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    Neuronix's post is a little bit too long for me to respond fully (i'll answer more later). I'll try to find out the answers to the questions you asked, but I don't think we carry much of that information, even for our own purposes. I'll see what I can do.

    D&G: wow, wait to take it to the top levels. Again, is what's on our website what you wanted, or do you want something more? I'm sorry Dr. Siliciano wasn't accomodating, he's a busy guy and he must have missed you, and thanks for taking the time to compile all this info. AS you may have noticed, I gave you better contact information.
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2008
  25. Newquagmire

    Newquagmire 10+ Year Member

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    IMHO, research experience is typically inferred from LORs and interview.

    I also meant responses such as "clinical research" or "biotech" rather than an outright rejection of "translational research."
     
  26. delirium81

    delirium81 7+ Year Member

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    Good point. I really don't think there's a good measure of "physician ability" out there. God knows Step 2 CS isn't it (I seriously hope they get rid of that money pit before I reach third year). I'm sure it's a pipe dream, but it would be nice if there were better "weed out" measures out there, because, anecdotally anyway, I know plenty of people with crazy high MCATs who I wouldn't want touching me with a ten foot pole. And USNews rankings are a joke. It's a shame that they're taken so seriously by students and schools alike.
     
  27. smq123

    smq123 Roy Lichtenstein SDN Advisor SDN Administrator 10+ Year Member

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    :oops: Sorry to jump in on the pile-up, but I don't really understand your reasoning.

    The questions that they asked were good questions - QofQuimica admitted that these are questions that should be asked. They're probably questions that Neuronix and D&G would ask if they had to apply to MD/PhD again, knowing what they know now.

    So why shouldn't they post these questions? :confused:

    Lately, I've had trouble understanding the fear that being fully honest about the state of med school will scare people off from applying. For med school, there are probably 2-3 people fighting for each spot. For MSTP spots at top names (like Hopkins), that number probably goes up to 4, 5, maybe even 6. Scaring off 1 or 2 people isn't really going to affect the admissions game all that much.

    Furthermore, people who apply to med school are, by and large, quite intelligent. (You'd think that this would be a given, but I've got stories.) If you feed them nothing but sunshine and daisies, most of them will be smart enough to realize that you're not giving them the full story.

    Again, I'm having difficulty understanding your reasoning.

    In your first post of this thread, you openly invited all kinds of questions:

    So...did you mean it or not? Or was it just an empty promise, provided that the questions didn't get too probing?

    If you don't have the answers to these questions, that's fine. Just say so. No one is expecting you to be an admissions expert. But just don't write off perfectly valid questions...particularly when you invited them in the first place.
     
  28. JHopRevisit

    JHopRevisit 7+ Year Member

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    OK, those are all fair points SMQ, I'll ask all of these questions and see what I can do. However, I really don't think we have all those questions available. Perhaps I was a bit too confrontational because I didn't particularly like Neuronix's tone, but it's always dangerous to infer tone from a message board. Sorry about that. However, I also think you're being a bit unfair to me SMQ. I answered the questions I could very quickly, especially for the graduation times, and encouraged politically incorrect questions that a PD could answer, as from QofQ. I think it was Neurnix's approach that got to me, and again, sorry about that.

    If you don't mind, I'll edit my original post to reflect that.

    Here's the questions so far. Did I miss any? Anything else?

    What is the actual percentage of your graduates that go on to have a career that is mostly comprised of research.

    What do you think about Soulja Boy...do you hate him as much as me? (yes)

    Although it is not legal for medical schools to discriminate based upon age, many older applicants have the sense that it happens frequently anyway, especially given the relatively subjective nature of medical school admissions. What is honestly the oldest starting age that you feel would be acceptable for an MD/PhD student? Assume that the candidate's grades, MCAT, research experience, etc. made them otherwise competitive for your program.

    What is the drop out rate from the program? Percentages that have left their PhD, left their MD, or left both would be especially interesting.

    Is there a difference in drop out rate and career choice (EXCLUDE "in training") between students who received funding and students who did not receive funding for medical school? I am curious as Hopkins is one of the few programs that still takes students without full funding.

    What is the drop out rate from the program? Percentages that have left their PhD, left their MD, or left both would be especially interesting.

    Is there a difference in drop out rate and career choice (EXCLUDE "in training") between students who received funding and students who did not receive funding for medical school? I am curious as Hopkins is one of the few programs that still takes students without full funding.

    Oh while we're on the topic of Hopkins, about how many students per year who apply MD/PhD are referred to the MD committee? Rumor is that my year it was a grand total of 3.

    Rate in order of importance: GPA, MCAT, LOR, Interview

    If I say I want to do something other than "translational research" during the interview, how much does it hurt my chances?
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2008
  29. QofQuimica

    QofQuimica Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting.... Lifetime Donor SDN Administrator 10+ Year Member

    Ok, question on behalf of an anonymous poster:

    *(part in parentheses added by me)

    This would be something that I think a lot of people would like an *honest* answer to; as this poster suggests, there is a sense that schools like JH tend to be pretty incestuous when choosing candidates for med school and/or residency. It would be interesting to know how much of that is a self-selection thing (i.e., a lot of high-powered HS students go to high power UGs) versus how much is on the part of the school (University of Southern Timbuktu? We don't take people from schools like that at JH!).

    One more thing: JHop, don't take any of these questions personally. Even if some posters hate the system, or dislike some of your school's specific policies, it's not a reflection on you as a person. I think we can all agree that it was very nice of you to offer to get us some straight answers. You just better deliver for us, that's all. :laugh: ;)
     
  30. Neuronix

    Neuronix Total nerd SDN Advisor SDN Administrator 10+ Year Member

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    Thanks JHop :thumbup:

    You will later be saying this about some people with AOA and high board scores. :laugh:
     
  31. smq123

    smq123 Roy Lichtenstein SDN Advisor SDN Administrator 10+ Year Member

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    Okay, fair enough.

    I just thought that the questions that current MD/PhD students were asking were actually good questions. All people applying to med school (especially the MD/PhD applicants) really need to ask the tough questions whenever they get a chance.

    If you don't have the answers available, then that's fine - just by making the effort, you're doing a great service that I'm sure future applicants will really appreciate. :)
     
  32. JHopRevisit

    JHopRevisit 7+ Year Member

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    I have an "unofficial" answer about what is valued most highly for admissions from a previous conversation with our PD. According to him, he values letters of recommendation from research mentors and your ability to discuss your research and the broader field during the interview very highly. Thus, "research experience" is the most important factor, as measured by the those variables. Will try to get a more detailed answer.

    As for the question about where we select our candidates from, we have the schools students come from on the website. Harvard, Yale, and JHU are the best represented, but many non-Ivy league schools are represented (those three schools are about 15% of the program, if you assume we have about 100 people), and historically Univ. of Maryland, Morehouse, and the UC's have done quite well. You can also browse all of the students that form our program on our website, and see both their schools and their majors. Our students have from UN Las Vegas, Flordia State, Kenyon, Furman, etc., and no offense to those last two, but I had never heard of them before I met the students in our program.
    http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/mdphd/students/currentstudents.html

    I'll try to get into office with my PD next week to answer the rest, but I think he's out of town, I'll see when he gets back.
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2008
  33. JHopRevisit

    JHopRevisit 7+ Year Member

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    Thank you very much, I'll do what I can.
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2008
  34. pyf

    pyf 2+ Year Member

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    Oh!! I have a question.

    Do you seriously consider applicants for a PhD in the History of Science, Society, and Technology? Or are these applicants viewed as somebody whose admission would take away a spot from somebody who would do basic science?

    I ask because it seems that there aren't any current students pursuing this track so I wasn't sure to what extent it was supported.

    Thanks!
     
  35. delirium81

    delirium81 7+ Year Member

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    Sadly, I have no doubt in my mind that this is true. *sigh*

    This is obviously true once you get to the interview stage, but GPA and MCAT must weigh more heavily to get you to that stage since I'm assuming they don't have time to pour over letters of rec for every single applicant. Maybe I'm wrong?
     
  36. JHopRevisit

    JHopRevisit 7+ Year Member

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    Hey Neuronix, I have the exact numbers for you (these are right, don't tell me you don't believe them, and they're between our guess so we both get to save face :)). Over the past five years, four students have dropped the PhD portion of their studies. None have dropped out of the program entirely (they got/are getting MD's). We have ~thirteen students (initial class of twelve or thirteen plus students that join in) per year, so 4/~65 = ~6%. Reasons for the four students dropping were:
    1) PI left the country
    2-3) Didn't like their graduate program (don't know exactly what that means, but I think it means course requirements were too high. Lately a few programs dropped some requirements for MD-PhDs which led others to do the same, which is why I guessed course requirements, it may have been in response to those two leaving. However, they may also have left because they didn't like the overall program, I don't know.)
    4) Decided on neurosurgery

    Interview with Dr. Siliciano is scheduled for tomm. afternoon, I'll try to post the answers sometime next week and see if you guys like the style. It should be posted as an mp3 with separate files for each question, with the tracks both embedded in the page and an option to download (Dr. Siliciano is thrilled he now has a "podcast" :laugh:).

    I don't know if they "pour," but Dr. Siliciano and several other committee members (~3) do read every single letter before giving an interview. But you're right, there is a difference between what gets you an interview and what gets you in, and I can ask about that.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2008
  37. Neuronix

    Neuronix Total nerd SDN Advisor SDN Administrator 10+ Year Member

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    I DON'T BELIEVE THEM!!!!! Kidding :D I just heard this morning we lost our second out of my class. :( Thanks for the detailed response.
     
  38. JHopRevisit

    JHopRevisit 7+ Year Member

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    Just wrapped up the interview. History of Science/History of Medicine is fully supported, students have done it in the past, and while we haven't had many students in that program we've had a few in bioethics and less "science-y" fields, so it's definitely possible.

    Will post the interview later, probably next week.
     
  39. pyf

    pyf 2+ Year Member

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    Awesome, thanks so much again for taking the time to inquire and report back JHopRevisit.

    I really do appreciate it.
     
  40. drcushing

    drcushing New Member 5+ Year Member

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    Neuronix,
    when that person quite in his/her 5th year (I'm guessing here), could he/she simply jump right back into clinical clerkship?
    It's really a waste -- not in the sense the person didn't learn scientific research but just not able to be credited with an additional degree..
     
  41. JHopRevisit

    JHopRevisit 7+ Year Member

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    Someone bumping this thread reminded me; Dr. Siliciano did the video a while back, but I've been too busy to get it up on the website. If you want to check out a preview, go here.

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2587070920482433688&hl=en

    We'll have it in a nicer, clearer form on the website soon, we just put up something quick and dirty to see how it sounded. We'll also have it separated by chapters so you can go to a particular question you're interested in. For now we've focused on admissions questions, we might do a more expansive one about MD-PhD's in general or the Hopkins program in particular with Siliciano or other faculty members.

    PS Dr. Siliciano is a bit embarrassed because he feels he's not very camera-friendly, so I'm supposed to apologize on his behalf. I think he's came off fine, but just in case he didn't, he's a nice guy, I promise. :)
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2008
  42. Neuronix

    Neuronix Total nerd SDN Advisor SDN Administrator 10+ Year Member

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    I'm in my 6th year.

    Hard to say how much progress she had made on her PhD. I don't know her situation so I don't mean to imply this is true or false, but some people at this point in the game STILL don't have much data. I know one guy who up until very recently didn't even have an abstract. So it's possible that person didn't see the light at the end of the tunnel. With things like being scooped (one guy from within his own lab), being asked to do projects based on things published in Nature that turned out to be false (happened to another girl my year), or PIs leaving to go far away I'd believe just about anything. It kind of sucks to work on a degree, the completion of which is out of your control.
     
  43. drcushing

    drcushing New Member 5+ Year Member

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    Jan 4, 2006
    oh boy, she's gonna finish med school with just an MD in 8 years! I think they should at least give her the option of getting a Masters.
    I still can't believe 4 years with not much useful data...
     
  44. Neuronix

    Neuronix Total nerd SDN Advisor SDN Administrator 10+ Year Member

    12,316
    1,179
    Mar 14, 2002
    the beach
    Physician
    PhD
    Faculty
    Not sure how this works. Some departments have terminal master's and some don't. I don't know if she's getting on or not. I'm not sure very much at all how that works here and it is department and institution dependent.

    Well that department (that both the MD/PhDs my year left I think) requires 1 year of undergrad TAing and 2 years of rigorous coursework. IMO it's not hard to see how after only 1 year of full-time lab work (6th year = 3 completed years) you may not have much data. The grad chair of that group definately views it as a 8-9 year combined MD/PhD program.
     

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