md/phd at location I don't really like (mistake applying, sort of) vs PhD at favorite school/program, MD after

Mar 26, 2021
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Hi! I recently was accepted to both an MD/PhD program at a non-top 50 school (ranking doesn't matter to me though), it was my last choice and I wasn't sure I should apply initially. I did, and was accepted, but upon visiting, I really don't like the location/state/city the school is in (it's an 8 year program!), the research I could do is very limiting/not in my area of interest, and I also was accepted to a PhD program at one of my favorite schools and favorite programs!! Now, I realize that I probably should not have applied to that specific MD/PhD. And I realize how lucky I am to have been accepted. I in no way want to sound arrogant, but feel like I'm in quite a pickle. Since I've already been accepted (have not matriculated yet), if I end up going to the PhD program only school, what are the odds I could reapply and be accepted to med school again? (granted I retake MCAT and will have a PhD, and do not apply to that same med school I got in for MD/PhD). The solo PhD program is not in the biomedical sciences, and is more animal biology/psychology focused. The MD/PhD research part is straight biomedical sciences.

Truth be told, I am more certain about my PhD direction than the MD part. I am still debating between MD and DVM (I love behavior/neurology, know it is more developed on the MD side and more limiting on DVM side, but still...), so with doing a PhD first, I will have the flexibility to choose between DVM or MD after. But if I decide MD, will I basically not be able to get in again? Idk, as a re-applicant who was already accepted, isn't that really frowned upon (is what I've heard?) Of course if I have a half "decent" excuse, but still. I just cannot envision myself living in a city I hate, doing a PhD I am only slightly interested in, all for the financial/slightly shortened time benefits. Am I being stupid here, choosing to first do a PhD at a location I love/research I like, then waiting to do MD after? Also because I want a significant chunk of my career to be devoted to research (mostly comparative research, animal behavior/neurology), is going into all the MD loans stupid, since that will limit how much research time I can do (I have to do more clinical to pay back loans after?) Just wanted some med students' advice :) Thank you very much and sorry for the long text!!
 
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ShinySephiroth

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Hi! I recently was accepted to both an MD/PhD program at a non-top 50 school (ranking doesn't matter to me though), it was my last choice and I wasn't sure I should apply initially. I did, and was accepted, but upon visiting, I really don't like the location/state/city the school is in (it's an 8 year program!), the research I could do is very limiting/not in my area of interest, and I also was accepted to a PhD program at one of my favorite schools and favorite programs!! Now, I realize that I probably should not have applied to that specific MD/PhD. And I realize how lucky I am to have been accepted. I in no way want to sound arrogant, but feel like I'm in quite a pickle. Since I've already been accepted (have not matriculated yet), if I end up going to the PhD program only school, what are the odds I could reapply and be accepted to med school again? (granted I retake MCAT and will have a PhD, and do not apply to that same med school I got in for MD/PhD). The solo PhD program is not in the biomedical sciences, and is more animal biology/psychology focused. The MD/PhD research part is straight biomedical sciences.

Truth be told, I am more certain about my PhD direction than the MD part. I am still debating between MD and DVM (I love behavior/neurology, know it is more developed on the MD side and more limiting on DVM side, but still...), so with doing a PhD first, I will have the flexibility to choose between DVM or MD after. But if I decide MD, will I basically not be able to get in again? Idk, as a re-applicant who was already accepted, isn't that really frowned upon (is what I've heard?) Of course if I have a half "decent" excuse, but still. I just cannot envision myself living in a city I hate, doing a PhD I am only slightly interested in, all for the financial/slightly shortened time benefits. Am I being stupid here, choosing to first do a PhD at a location I love/research I like, then waiting to do MD after? Also because I want a significant chunk of my career to be devoted to research (mostly comparative research, animal behavior/neurology), is going into all the MD loans stupid, since that will limit how much research time I can do (I have to do more clinical to pay back loans after?) Just wanted some med students' advice :) Thank you very much and sorry for the long text!!
I'd say do the PhD and then figure out during that time if you really want to practice medicine. Quality of life is important. :)
 
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ValentinNarcisse

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Hi! I recently was accepted to both an MD/PhD program at a non-top 50 school (ranking doesn't matter to me though), it was my last choice and I wasn't sure I should apply initially. I did, and was accepted, but upon visiting, I really don't like the location/state/city the school is in (it's an 8 year program!), the research I could do is very limiting/not in my area of interest, and I also was accepted to a PhD program at one of my favorite schools and favorite programs!! Now, I realize that I probably should not have applied to that specific MD/PhD. And I realize how lucky I am to have been accepted. I in no way want to sound arrogant, but feel like I'm in quite a pickle. Since I've already been accepted (have not matriculated yet), if I end up going to the PhD program only school, what are the odds I could reapply and be accepted to med school again? (granted I retake MCAT and will have a PhD, and do not apply to that same med school I got in for MD/PhD). The solo PhD program is not in the biomedical sciences, and is more animal biology/psychology focused. The MD/PhD research part is straight biomedical sciences.

Truth be told, I am more certain about my PhD direction than the MD part. I am still debating between MD and DVM (I love behavior/neurology, know it is more developed on the MD side and more limiting on DVM side, but still...), so with doing a PhD first, I will have the flexibility to choose between DVM or MD after. But if I decide MD, will I basically not be able to get in again? Idk, as a re-applicant who was already accepted, isn't that really frowned upon (is what I've heard?) Of course if I have a half "decent" excuse, but still. I just cannot envision myself living in a city I hate, doing a PhD I am only slightly interested in, all for the financial/slightly shortened time benefits. Am I being stupid here, choosing to first do a PhD at a location I love/research I like, then waiting to do MD after? Also because I want a significant chunk of my career to be devoted to research (mostly comparative research, animal behavior/neurology), is going into all the MD loans stupid, since that will limit how much research time I can do (I have to do more clinical to pay back loans after?) Just wanted some med students' advice :) Thank you very much and sorry for the long text!!

Even if you got into a top PhD program (Harvard, Stanford etc.), the likelihood of your becoming a PI is relatively low. Moreover, you will likely struggle financially for your entire professional life unless you have independent means. There is simply an oversupply of global PhDs, I would caution anyone from pursuing this pathway. Top PhDs with CNS papers from grad school still have to do lengthy, competitive, and stressful postdocs before they can secure a faculty position.

You were admitted to an MD medical school, which is a huge achievement that affords you tremendous flexibility. If you do not find a PhD lab that you can thrive in - you can always drop out and graduate medical school. Afterwards, you can go to residency, start a top tier scientific postdoc, or do something else entirely.
 
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Nov 15, 2019
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As someone struggling immensely with the pressures of medical school in a less than ideal location, don’t go to the MD/PhD program unless there’s nothing else you’d rather do. Take the PhD acceptance.
 
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I'd take the PhD in this case too given the QOL aspect and all the concerns with the MD/PhD described, as well as the clearer orientation towards science vs medicine.

By doing this you are mostly closing off the possibility of a joint degree though. You might possibly gain entry to your PhD program's affiliated MD program, but it would be a high bar and no guarantees. You could still do MD/DVM afterwards separately, but that's a lot of years and a lot of money.

Still and all, I wouldn't commit to 8 years in a city I hated for research I wasn't interested in.
 
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NIHNewInnovator

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Hi! I recently was accepted to both an MD/PhD program at a non-top 50 school (ranking doesn't matter to me though), it was my last choice and I wasn't sure I should apply initially. I did, and was accepted, but upon visiting, I really don't like the location/state/city the school is in (it's an 8 year program!), the research I could do is very limiting/not in my area of interest, and I also was accepted to a PhD program at one of my favorite schools and favorite programs!! Now, I realize that I probably should not have applied to that specific MD/PhD. And I realize how lucky I am to have been accepted. I in no way want to sound arrogant, but feel like I'm in quite a pickle. Since I've already been accepted (have not matriculated yet), if I end up going to the PhD program only school, what are the odds I could reapply and be accepted to med school again? (granted I retake MCAT and will have a PhD, and do not apply to that same med school I got in for MD/PhD). The solo PhD program is not in the biomedical sciences, and is more animal biology/psychology focused. The MD/PhD research part is straight biomedical sciences.

Truth be told, I am more certain about my PhD direction than the MD part. I am still debating between MD and DVM (I love behavior/neurology, know it is more developed on the MD side and more limiting on DVM side, but still...), so with doing a PhD first, I will have the flexibility to choose between DVM or MD after. But if I decide MD, will I basically not be able to get in again? Idk, as a re-applicant who was already accepted, isn't that really frowned upon (is what I've heard?) Of course if I have a half "decent" excuse, but still. I just cannot envision myself living in a city I hate, doing a PhD I am only slightly interested in, all for the financial/slightly shortened time benefits. Am I being stupid here, choosing to first do a PhD at a location I love/research I like, then waiting to do MD after? Also because I want a significant chunk of my career to be devoted to research (mostly comparative research, animal behavior/neurology), is going into all the MD loans stupid, since that will limit how much research time I can do (I have to do more clinical to pay back loans after?) Just wanted some med students' advice :) Thank you very much and sorry for the long text!!
Congratulations on your MSTP acceptance!
I got my PhD in medical physics along with my MD. I had gotten into "better" MD programs, but my PhD advisor told me to take the MSTP position because scholarships for medical school are extremely hard to get. Looking back 30+ years ago I think it was the right choice. 15 years ago I invented a new imaging method. We just completed a phase II study with positive results in lung cancer patients, in review at JCO. The MD allowed me to lead that translational research in patients and keep my own research group funded for 15 years. The PhD has also allowed me to be the dissertation advisor for 10 PhD students, though not one was an MSTP student. Finally the MD PhD has allowed me to receive a physician salary while doing research-clinical 80-20% for those 15 years. I really enjoyed the research, teaching graduate students, and making the physician salary. The physician part is pretty cool too, especially when you can say you saved someone's life etc. Some of my classmates from undergraduate school who went on to get PhD's are no longer employed, selling artificial turf or catching consulting work part-time. The PhD doesn't guarantee a high paying job and the technical fields advance quickly - your skills become out-dated.
 
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