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lopezchm

1°: 22 | 2°: 22 | II: 13 | IA: 10 | R: 7 | A: 6
Feb 20, 2020
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My career goal is becoming a physician-scientist (which makes this decision really hard).

So I am still waiting for an MSTP decision from Stanford, but in the case that I do not receive the MSTP A, I am deciding between MD-only at Stanford vs MSTPs and MD/PhDs at other institutions. So far I have acceptances to U of Maryland, Oregon Health Science University, U of Iowa – Carver College of Medicine, U of Colorado, and Mayo Clinic. I am awaiting decisions from UCSD, and UC Davis. Reasons for going to Stanford: my soon-to-be fiance who goes to dental school close by, family, and quite honestly its hard to justify walking away from Stanford.

Thoughts? I would really appreciate the help. This has been stressing me out.
 

ShinySephiroth

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Apr 10, 2013
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I'd take the MD at Stanford, then reapply after MS1 to the MSTP. If it doesn't work out again, apply during MS2. If that still doesn't work, either take a LoA and do a PhD after MS2, apply to PhD granting residencies, do a PhD after residency, or do a research fellowship.
 

ValentinNarcisse

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My career goal is becoming a physician-scientist (which makes this decision really hard).

So I am still waiting for an MSTP decision from Stanford, but in the case that I do not receive the MSTP A, I am deciding between MD-only at Stanford vs MSTPs and MD/PhDs at other institutions. So far I have acceptances to U of Maryland, Oregon Health Science University, U of Iowa – Carver College of Medicine, U of Colorado, and Mayo Clinic. I am awaiting decisions from UCSD, and UC Davis. Reasons for going to Stanford: my soon-to-be fiance who goes to dental school close by, family, and quite honestly its hard to justify walking away from Stanford.

Thoughts? I would really appreciate the help. This has been stressing me out.
It is a tough decision, I would recommend leaving the Stanford MD on the table for a well respected MSTP. It seems that your offer at Mayo or UCSD would fit that description. A couple of points about Stanford MD - the overwhelming majority of students take 5 years to graduate, doing a research year or other activity. Internal MSTP transfers are never a sure thing, but you could earn an MD/PhD outside of the MSTP, but the whole process might take you 9-10 years. In addition, you will likely be living like a college student until your late 20s, on subsidized on-campus dorms or university contracted apartments, unless you have independent means. This compares to some of these other locations where you can buy a place or live comfortably on an MSTP stipend. That being said, it seems some of your other offers are in somewhat isolated locations, but I imagine dentists can work anywhere. Of course the research opportunities at Stanford speak for themselves, but what is it worth to you? For lack of a better term, is it better to be a "wannabe" MSTP if you are unable to transfer, leaving you without the support from MSTP leadership or clean integration into your medical school experience? The Stanford MSTP match list is no better than these other programs, with many of the grads going into Pathology or full time science.
 
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Lampstrike

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Apr 28, 2018
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One question: Are you loaded enough to not need loans at Stanford?

We can all talk about the "integrated curriculum" or the "MSTP leadership" till we are blue in the face, but the reality for most people is that the biggest benefit of the MSTP program is that they relieve you of the burden of med school loans. This is a huge benefit especially in the early days as a physician-scientist. Not having loans to worry about gives you the flexibility to spend an extra year or two doing research within your residency/fellowship. Those extra years can help you get those critical publications you need to get that first physician-scientist job and open your own lab. If you have med school loans to deal with, it can become increasingly difficult to hold off on using your MD to make money while you screw around in lab on a postdoc salary (with an even lower QOL since a nice chunk of your income goes toward loan interest). Once you leave science to go make money and pay off your loans, it will be really difficult to re-enter academia and pursue your dream as a physician-scientist. My advice: don't put yourself in a position where that could realistically happen.

Obviously, if you can afford Stanford outright, then this is really just a question of if the $250,000+ is worth the extra prestige given by Stanford over Mayo and being close to your family and fiance (at least until he can join you after dental school). That's something only you can decide.
 
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lopezchm

1°: 22 | 2°: 22 | II: 13 | IA: 10 | R: 7 | A: 6
Feb 20, 2020
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I'd take the MD at Stanford, then reapply after MS1 to the MSTP. If it doesn't work out again, apply during MS2. If that still doesn't work, either take a LoA and do a PhD after MS2, apply to PhD granting residencies, do a PhD after residency, or do a research fellowship.
Thanks so much for the info! Appreciate it
 

lopezchm

1°: 22 | 2°: 22 | II: 13 | IA: 10 | R: 7 | A: 6
Feb 20, 2020
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It is a tough decision, I would recommend leaving the Stanford MD on the table for a well respected MSTP. It seems that your offer at Mayo or UCSD would fit that description. A couple of points about Stanford MD - the overwhelming majority of students take 5 years to graduate, doing a research year or other activity. Internal MSTP transfers are never a sure thing, but you could earn an MD/PhD outside of the MSTP, but the whole process might take you 9-10 years. In addition, you will likely be living like a college student until your late 20s, on subsidized on-campus dorms or university contracted apartments, unless you have independent means. This compares to some of these other locations where you can buy a place or live comfortably on an MSTP stipend. That being said, it seems some of your other offers are in somewhat isolated locations, but I imagine dentists can work anywhere. Of course the research opportunities at Stanford speak for themselves, but what is it worth to you? For lack of a better term, is it better to be a "wannabe" MSTP if you are unable to transfer, leaving you without the support from MSTP leadership or clean integration into your medical school experience? The Stanford MSTP match list is no better than these other programs, with many of the grads going into Pathology or full time science.
I can completely understand that point of view. The money is obviously a really important factor as well. Taking all that you had to say into my decision!
 

lopezchm

1°: 22 | 2°: 22 | II: 13 | IA: 10 | R: 7 | A: 6
Feb 20, 2020
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One question: Are you loaded enough to not need loans at Stanford?

We can all talk about the "integrated curriculum" or the "MSTP leadership" till we are blue in the face, but the reality for most people is that the biggest benefit of the MSTP program is that they relieve you of the burden of med school loans. This is a huge benefit especially in the early days as a physician-scientist. Not having loans to worry about gives you the flexibility to spend an extra year or two doing research within your residency/fellowship. Those extra years can help you get those critical publications you need to get that first physician-scientist job and open your own lab. If you have med school loans to deal with, it can become increasingly difficult to hold off on using your MD to make money while you screw around in lab on a postdoc salary (with an even lower QOL since a nice chunk of your income goes toward loan interest). Once you leave science to go make money and pay off your loans, it will be really difficult to re-enter academia and pursue your dream as a physician-scientist. My advice: don't put yourself in a position where that could realistically happen.

Obviously, if you can afford Stanford outright, then this is really just a question of if the $250,000+ is worth the extra prestige given by Stanford over Mayo and being close to your family and fiance (at least until he can join you after dental school). That's something only you can decide.
You’ve hit the nail on the head. That’s exactly why this decision is so tough. Obviously my relationship and family is something that will add to the quality of my life during school, but you’re right, the cost + pursuing academic medicine will be tough. Something I really need to think about. I appreciate your detailed and thoughtful response.
 

tortuga87

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Aug 11, 2010
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I just want to mention that the Stanford name is not that important for medical school. In general, medical school prestige is not important contrary to popular belief. Name is important for recruiting cash pay patients, but this is specialty specific and you can get the name during residency or fellowship. Medical education is almost all standardized since around 5-10 years ago; everyone basically learns from the same books and takes the same tests. The schools with prestige will talk up the prestige so they can drive down their salaries and drive up their costs of attendance in the name of prestige, but this does not matter for *your* skills as a physician.

Prestige is largely fairy dust and you should focus on the tangible issues: (1) being happy with fiancé, (2) the money mentioned previously, and (3) the potential research mentors you will be working with. Long distance relationships have a higher chance of failure, and you don't want to regret messing up a good catch. People drop out of serious research all the time for money after medical school (expect around 80% to drop out eventually for this reason) because they work for the half the pay of their clinical colleagues, cannot get money from grants or are placed into precarious interpersonal situations because they do not have enough money to manage from the top. For (3), this means many potential mentors so you can see which one you most like working with.
 
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NIHNewInnovator

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The medical school name may help. The Stanford name did help me, I did my residency at Stanford. More important though, is your PhD advisor. My PhD advisor was the best funded investigator in his field and for a reason. He only did cutting edge research, or as he would say ".. research no one else could do." My papers from my dissertation research made their way into textbooks and were highly cited. Your chance to find a mentor like that is going to be greater at Stanford. In fields like AI in medicine, there is no better placed to be trained. The research resources and support that the institution will provide you are also among the best. If you have identified a potential mentor at Stanford, then Stanford. That's not to say there are not good investigators at Iowa or Mayo etc.
Good luck!
 
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lopezchm

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Were good. I got into Stanford MSTP :soexcited:
 
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