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In a bit of a dilemma. NIH/IRTA position

Discussion in 'Physician Scientists' started by Nontrad85, Aug 5, 2011.

  1. Nontrad85

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    I am a hopeful MD/PhD future applicant. Currently, I work full time in a research lab where publication is extremely feasible; however, being a 1st author seems near impossible (for various reasons I will not mention) and that is my ultimate goal.

    Now, I am at a point where I can accept a Postbac NIH/IRTA position out of state. Thus, I'm in a dilemma for various reasons.

    Pros for accepting NIH offer:
    1.) hmm. it's NIH! I've heard stories (on SDN at least) that their NIH experience definitely helped them get into med school. I totally understand it is experience-dependent, but the name "NIH" should've helped at least?
    2.) The lab seems very well respected with a lot of current publications.
    3.) Very interesting research. It's definitely the type of research I would like to do someday as a MD/PhD. It involves both clinical and basic research.

    Cons:
    1.) Major salary cut. $47,000 to $29,000.
    2.) Out-of-state, which means I'll have to pay for my own apt (currently, I live at home with parents) and also pay my own groceries/foods.
    3.) Social life might end up sucking since I don't know anyone in DC and I'm afraid I'd be alone for the entire 2 years :( ... Don't get me wrong. I can make friends easily, but I would want to find friends who enjoy going out for a drink, clubbing, etc. and, from my experience, the lab just isn't the right place to make friends with for that same reason (esp. not co-workers).


    Anyways, I would please like to get someone else's opinion. What would you do? Accept the NIH offer?

    Sorry for the long post.
     
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  3. PfNO22

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    Sounds like a Growing Up experience.

    It's good to learn to provide for yourself and it's good to learn to make a new social network.
     
  4. soundnin

    7+ Year Member

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    currently $47k salary while living at home and mooching food off parents? life is good. +1 on the above post.
     
  5. SBR249

    7+ Year Member

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    While the NIH's IRTA community does have lots of social activities (including clubbing and happy hours along with sports), I'd have to say I favor staying with the current job just for that extra 18K a year. From what the OP has described, the current job isn't bad, just no chance of a 1st author. But if the OP is deeply involved in the project then he/she should have no trouble communicating the degree of participation in applications/interviews which is really what matters I think. As for the whole "growing up" thing, sure that would be nice, but there's plenty of time to do that once you get to med school too. So yeah, I'd take the money and continue with the current project.
     
  6. K31

    K31
    Physician PhD 7+ Year Member

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    The most important thing for you right now is to get good research experience and get a good LOR from your PI.

    Having first author pubs is definitely not necessary for MD/PhD admissions. Sure it helps, but most successful applicants aren't published at all, much less have a first author paper.

    If I were you, I'd stay where you are now and save up some money. You'll have plenty of time to work long hours for a pittance when you are in grad school.
     
  7. Choculitis

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    Sounds me like you'll be happier in general staying at home, but it would be better for your career to do the NIH.

    I'd say take a critical look at where you are right now application-wise and where you want to go, and then decide if it's worth the trade-off. If you have a 3.6 and 35 but want to go to Harvard, then it's probably worth it to go to the NIH to get whatever edge you can. On the other hand, if you have a 3.9/40 and don't particularly care if you go to a top 10 school, then it's probably not worth the loss in pay and social life.
     
  8. Nontrad85

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    Actually, I lived hundreds of miles away from home for college where I 1.) paid for my own rent and groceries 2.) worked full-time to pay for college tuitions/fees.
     
  9. Nontrad85

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    Thanks for all of the comments.

    I'm still on the fence. While my current job is highly involved, there is really no "focus" in my research. I pretty much collaborate with a lot of investigators and create data for them (2 publications thus far). Come interview, I can speak about the details of my experience but not as in depth as I would like it to be because I'm doing research for "A" investigator, another experiment for "B" investigator, and a completely out of the ballpark research for "C" investigator.

    At NIH, at least I would have some sort of focus and my research will only involve a specific topic/area of research.

    Ugh. decisions. decisions.
     
  10. Fencer

    Fencer MSTP Director
    Physician PhD Faculty 10+ Year Member

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    True, but at your level "focus" is not as important as publications (later it is critical). If you are more likely to get 2 or 3 additional pubs there, I will stay put and get them done rather than going to NIH. If you have doubts, PM me.
     
  11. soundnin

    7+ Year Member

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    that's not necessarily a bad thing either. you dabble in a (wide) variety of topics using a certain set of skills. i think that's as valuable an experience as digging deeper within one specific topic.
     

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