Leaving research group with well known MDs results in inevitable failure.

Jul 25, 2020
93
58
Status (Visible)
  1. Pre-Medical
Alrighty SDN, looking at all the folks with genuine adcom experience here for some much needed help.

Background- I'm a second year undergrad and I've been somewhat involved with a research group since last year of highschool (I ended up going to my state school so continued work with them a bit). I took the opportunity after shadowing a doctor in HS for some experience and they had a spot open for another person to come on board so I jumped at it, even though the field of study was not my interest at all. Research experience is research experience, right? Turns out I suck at it. The papers make no sense, the other undergrads have ungodly expertise in this field and there seems to be no communication at all. The group is extremely productive and puts out a lot of pubs but it doesn't even matter to me anymore. There's too much drama for me (a senior student snubbed me out of a paper that I wasn't even trying to get on and blamed me for a mishap), I don't like the field of study at all because it just isn't for me, and it constantly feels like I'm doing something wrong. Don't get me wrong, the researchers and MDs in the group are all esteemed practicioners with tons of experience that is invaluable, but the research feels like a chore and there are too many little problems I keep having and they're adding up. I want to respectfully leave and move on to something else, and I have two opportunities that are right up my alley. Now comes the issue..

When they brought me on board the lead MD took lots of time to explain how this research will get me lots of pubs and experience, which is amazing of course, but also kept talking about how they and their colleagues would be able to make or break my application in 2-3 years time. They gave examples of how several undergrads that had worked under them applied and it seems every med school would give these MDs a call before making a decision. The call, or email, would go something like "what are you opinions on this applicant because you are well known in the medical world and have worked with this student" and the people would answer that yes the applicant is good or no, don't let them in. This story has been repeated to me numerous times. Now, if I was on their good side and loved the work and was able to make massive contributions I'm sure this would be wonderful. But I am wanting to leave in a professional manner but I can't help but imagine that's going to annoy some people.

Question goes, is this a disaster for me to leave a group like this? Will a mysterious call from adcoms come to these people, and will what the potentially say about me basically seal a rejection no matter what? Because when I do apply 3 of my pubs (assuming I get more) will be linked to this group. Should I suck it up and stay, or can I move on to the new research opportunity in my field of interest?

Thanks for any advice. As always, I'm not a master SDNer. If this question is inappropriate or belongs elsewhere please let me know.
 

Deltasidearm

2+ Year Member
Aug 15, 2018
131
274
I'm not an adcom, but I have a lot of research experience and a fair amount of application knowledge.
If you leave the group courteously and professionally (and the PIs are not vindictive people) then it should be a non-issue. Leaving on good terms would mean that the PIs would not speak poorly of you but may not write you a letter, either.

I would be surprised if any schools would reach out to contact them unless they had strong ties directly to the school (ie are a faculty there or well known alumnus) and, if you're really worried about it, you can try to mitigate identifying information in your application.

I would respectively leave the group and not look back. If your heart is not in it, then others in the group can probably tell and dissatisfaction will just grow. However, if there is a PI that has a mentor role with you, then you can try meeting with him to discuss your position prior to leaving so that it does not come out of no where and provides an opportunity to fix things. I say this because it reads like your main dislikes of the group are your own feelings of inadequacy and some communication/education issues, but these are things that can be solved.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 users

Goro

SDN Gold Donor
10+ Year Member
Jun 11, 2010
64,855
99,636
Somewhere west of St. Louis
Status (Visible)
  1. Non-Student
1) Question goes, is this a disaster for me to leave a group like this?

2) Will a mysterious call from adcoms come to these people, and will what the potentially say about me basically seal a rejection no matter what?

3) Should I suck it up and stay, or can I move on to the new research opportunity in my field of interest?
1) No. Far from it.
2) Do you think that your PIs are that vindictive and petty that just because a UG student leaves their lab their going to gun for revenge? How would they even know you where you're applying and when??? Admissions Deans also ignore cold calls from disgruntled ex-employers seeking to sabotage people's career.

3) No. From your description, the lab is a poor environment for you.

Also, get it out of your head that just because these guys are well known in their field, it doesn't mean that they are known to Admissions Deans anywhere, The reason they get calls is NOT because of their reputations, but because they've been listed as references.

Having a slew of papers and thier recommendation will not get you into medical school if the rest of your app is weak.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 10 users
About the Ads

DermMatch

10+ Year Member
Dec 31, 2008
307
19
Status (Visible)
  1. Attending Physician
Better to extricate yourself politely from a poor fit than to continue plugging away at it. Your attitude and spirit will be gradually worn down and your mistakes will pile up.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 4 users

Moko

Staff member
Volunteer Staff
5+ Year Member
Sep 7, 2015
1,884
7,612
Status (Visible)
  1. Attending Physician
It would seem that these MDs have very inflated egos, which may or may not be founded in reality. Some people tend to spend too much time in their bubbles. It's not uncommon for PI LORs to boast about their own accomplishments and mention how they personally (as if) were responsible for sending prior mentees to "top schools" and the like. Many write as if they are widely recognized, but quite frankly, are unknown to most/all on the adcom. So I do question whether they are as influential as they purport to be. Also, at my school, we rarely reach out to contacts during the decision-making stage.

For the vast majority of schools, you get to choose who you get letters from (Harvard being one exception that wants a letter from every research experience). In some cases (such as yours) where an applicant has a prolific research experience that yielded multiple publications, it can appear odd to not have a letter from that research mentor. When this apparent lack of a PI letter is brought up, it is sometimes a sticking point for some adcom members, whereas it is given a pass by others. In your case, I think that having a strong research letter from a future research experience would alleviate any such concerns even at most research-heavy schools.

Lastly, most decent people recognize that priorities and interests change, and that premeds will eventually leave the lab for one reason or another. From what you described, it does seem that you would benefit from amicably transitioning to other opportunities. Life is too short to be miserable when you've got other options. Just my thoughts.
 
  • Like
  • Love
Reactions: 10 users

Med Ed

5+ Year Member
Sep 13, 2015
3,367
12,399
Status (Visible)
  1. Attending Physician
They gave examples of how several undergrads that had worked under them applied and it seems every med school would give these MDs a call before making a decision. The call, or email, would go something like "what are you opinions on this applicant because you are well known in the medical world and have worked with this student" and the people would answer that yes the applicant is good or no, don't let them in. This story has been repeated to me numerous times.

They keep repeating it because it isn't true. I'm completely serious.
 
  • Like
  • Love
Reactions: 5 users

KnightDoc

2+ Year Member
Mar 14, 2019
4,869
5,062
Status (Visible)
  1. Pre-Medical
They keep repeating it because it isn't true. I'm completely serious.
This^^^^^^. I keep seeing a certain guy on the news repeating known BS every night as well, because he apparently wants to brainwash people into believing it by the power of repetition! It's probably meant to keep you loyal and in line. If it were true, it would be true everywhere, and we'd all know this is how these things work!!! :cool:
 
  • Like
  • Haha
Reactions: 2 users
Jul 25, 2020
93
58
Status (Visible)
  1. Pre-Medical
1) No. Far from it.
2) Do you think that your PIs are that vindictive and petty that just because a UG student leaves their lab their going to gun for revenge? How would they even know you where you're applying and when??? Admissions Deans also ignore cold calls from disgruntled ex-employers seeking to sabotage people's career.

3) No. From your description, the lab is a poor environment for you.

Also, get it out of your head that just because these guys are well known in their field, it doesn't mean that they are known to Admissions Deans anywhere, The reason they get calls is NOT because of their reputations, but because they've been listed as references.

Having a slew of papers and thier recommendation will not get you into medical school if the rest of your app is weak.
It would seem that these MDs have very inflated egos, which may or may not be founded in reality. Some people tend to spend too much time in their bubbles. It's not uncommon for PI LORs to boast about their own accomplishments and mention how they personally (as if) were responsible for sending prior mentees to "top schools" and the like. Many write as if they are widely recognized, but quite frankly, are unknown to most/all on the adcom. So I do question whether they are as influential as they purport to be. Also, at my school, we rarely reach out to contacts during the decision-making stage.

For the vast majority of schools, you get to choose who you get letters from (Harvard being one exception that wants a letter from every research experience). In some cases (such as yours) where an applicant has a prolific research experience that yielded multiple publications, it can appear odd to not have a letter from that research mentor. When this apparent lack of a PI letter is brought up, it is sometimes a sticking point for some adcom members, whereas it is given a pass by others. In your case, I think that having a strong research letter from a future research experience would alleviate any such concerns even at most research-heavy schools.

Lastly, most decent people recognize that priorities and interests change, and that premeds will eventually leave the lab for one reason or another. From what you described, it does seem that you would benefit from amicably transitioning to other opportunities. Life is too short to be miserable when you've got other options. Just my thoughts.
They keep repeating it because it isn't true. I'm completely serious.

Well, I just sent the email today. The most respectful and sincere email I have ever written and it feels like a huge burden off my chest. I wish them nothing but the best success and I really hope I just didn't cancel my future. thank you guys, and I really hope what you all said about those quality control insider calls and whatnot isn't as real as I once thought. Thank you- veer_
 
  • Like
  • Love
Reactions: 4 users

gyngyn

Staff member
Administrator
Volunteer Staff
7+ Year Member
Nov 4, 2011
25,497
45,567
Status (Visible)
  1. Attending Physician
Well, I just sent the email today. The most respectful and sincere email I have ever written and it feels like a huge burden off my chest. I wish them nothing but the best success and I really hope I just didn't cancel my future. thank you guys, and I really hope what you all said about those quality control insider calls and whatnot isn't as real as I once thought. Thank you- veer_
You'll be fine.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 5 users

EdgeTrimmer

2+ Year Member
May 26, 2018
2,496
1,815
Status (Visible)
  1. Non-Student
This^^^^^^. I keep seeing a certain guy on the news repeating known BS every night as well, because he apparently wants to brainwash people into believing it by the power of repetition! It's probably meant to keep you loyal and in line. If it were true, it would be true everywhere, and we'd all know this is how these things work!!! :cool:
are you talking about the guy 70M believed? :)
 
  • Wow
  • Like
  • Haha
Reactions: 2 users
About the Ads

Your message may be considered spam for the following reasons:

  1. Your new thread title is very short, and likely is unhelpful.
  2. Your reply is very short and likely does not add anything to the thread.
  3. Your reply is very long and likely does not add anything to the thread.
  4. It is very likely that it does not need any further discussion and thus bumping it serves no purpose.
  5. Your message is mostly quotes or spoilers.
  6. Your reply has occurred very quickly after a previous reply and likely does not add anything to the thread.
  7. This thread is locked.