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MD/PhD chances? Ballpark schools?

Discussion in 'What Are My Chances?' started by warypremed, Jul 30, 2011.

  1. warypremed

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    Want to get an idea of what are my chances, and get an idea of what are my biggest holes and concerns in my application.

    I'm planning on applying MD/PhD for entrance in 2013 or 2014. I graduate 2012, and am planning on taking most likely just one year off to either apply for an NIH IRTA or RT position. I only recently decided to pursue the MD/PhD route; previously I was PhD only. I was actually pretty adamant about not MD. Funny how life turns out. Well basically, an MD/PhD friend, a PhD postdoctoral fellow I work with, and my last PI all suggested that I'm fully capable of MD/PhD, and MD/PhD suggested that I would really enjoy medical school. So now here I am after some more thinking and consideration.

    GPA: Cumulative 3.57 with one more year to go. I know this is on the low side. What's worse is that my science GPA is lower- 3.34 right now...
    Coursework: A major reason that the GPA is low is because I took a pilot program course that combined introductory biology, chemistry, and physics in one class. Needless to say it was pretty intense, and counted as a double credit (half of my course load). Ended up with a B- both semesters. But it has been an upward trend minus a bad fluke in genetics my sophomore year. Otherwise, I'm a biology major, so I have upper-division biology along with a fair amount of humanities courses. I like balance.

    MCAT: Taking it in August. Not looking too great, honestly. Will probably take it again after I graduate since I'll have little time if at all during school. But I'm studying. Probably shouldn't be posting so I can add more study time...

    Research: I have 1 full year (4.5 months full-time, 5 months about 25 hours a week due to being back on a full course load, then 2.5 months full-time again during the summer) that will hopefully be resulting in at least 1 publication assuming we get the paper out eventually. It is possible that we're splitting the project into 2 manuscripts, so I'd be coauthor on both if that happens. I also have another summer research experience (10 weeks full time) that will also be resulting in a publication, assuming that comes out eventually as well. So total research is about 15 months. Plus if I take a year to do an NIH IRTA, that's at least 2 solid years with at least 2 publications. Both of the research experiences are in areas that I am considering (cell biology, immunology-ish). I'm taking my last year off of research to focus on clinical/volunteering and boosting the GPA.

    LOR: Solid if not outstanding. I have told all of my potential letter writers that I am planning on MD/PhD, and they have all agreed that it's a great idea for me. 2 of the letter writers are obviously from my 2 research experiences. I'll have another one from school, and potentially another from the postdoc I worked with once he gets a faculty position. Is 4 overkill? I know 3 is what's required...

    Volunteering: Unfortunately I'm lacking in this department, at least with regards to clinical volunteering. I was fairly involved on campus at my previous school before having to transfer: worked a lot with the admissions office and student life office. Last semester I did some tutoring at an elementary school. Looking to potentially volunteer in the ED at a local hospital but am seeing how my schedule will work. Haven't been as involved on campus at my current school because of my heavy research schedule, and because there's a lack of ways to get involved on campus... I now attend a branch campus. Long story short: the school I originally attended became too expensive, and if I still wanted to graduate on time instead of adding at least 2 more years (which financially would've been pointless), attending the branch campus was my only option.

    Clinical Exposure: Starting that whole process for this next academic year. I'm meeting head of radiation oncology at a prominent teaching hospital this next month to discuss the opportunity of gaining exposure in the department. There is also the slight potential of shadowing a pediatric cardiologist, but that's not as likely, so I'm going to see how that turns out. I'm a first-generation college student, so it's been hard to find shadowing opportunities w/o having the right contacts... thankfully my past year of research has been at a teaching hospital and my PI is helpful.

    So what are you overall impressions? Are top-tier MSTPs even possible? If not where should I be shooting for?
     
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  3. TriagePreMed

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    Not going to happen, chief. Probably even MD won't happen. 3.7+ for MD/Ph.D.
     
  4. torshi

    torshi Squirrel
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    M.D/Ph.d requires higher stats than avg applicants and good research, and high MCAT scores 35+

    Also, a lot of ppl tend to say that route is not worth it and they had a chance they would just go the M.D route. I mean you can conduct research going the M.D route
     
  5. geeyouknit

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    Patent BS? Not sure if he's trolling.
    MD/PhD's do have slightly higher average stats, but "not going to happen" would mean only 3.6+ and 35+ get into med school at all. If you are going to take two years off, why not delay MCAT and prepare very well for it. A good MCAT can balance mediocre GPA.
    Torshi is right. Make absolutely sure you know that this is what you want to do, not just because someone said you'd be good at it.

    For more and probably better advice, check out the MD/PhD section of SDN ( http://forums.studentdoctor.net/forumdisplay.php?f=32)
     
  6. TriagePreMed

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    3.57/3.3 is low even where MD could not happen. MD/Ph.D., however, not going to happen.
     
  7. sector9

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    The sGPA is really low for MD/PhD. Only one year of research is pretty low at this point, but the OP has time to fix that.

    Why are you taking the MCAT so soon if you aren't applying for a while?
     
  8. warypremed

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    Thanks for the tip. Unfortunately it's too late to cancel, so if this first try doesn't work out great my plan is to take it again. I'd love to just take a whole year to study but I don't have the finances/resources/time to do that, so any studying after I graduate will be coupled with a job.

    I agree with Torshi and understand that MD only can still do research. I have generally made the decision of going MD/PhD on my own- encouragement from others I think was just that, encouragement. So I appreciate the advice.

    I've posted in the MD/PhD forum awhile ago with similar information and did not get such immediate no's. It wasn't "YEAH GO FOR IT YOU'RE AWESOME" either for obvious reasons. Seems like a mixed bag. I understand my numbers are low but I think in my mind the research/LORs/2 papers would compensate. Not trying to "defend" myself, but despite my not-so-stellar application, even though my research is about a year, it is pretty much a solid year. The first 4.5 months were full-time because I was in the middle of applying to schools as a transfer so did not take a full course load. I started back full time literally an hour after my last final this past spring, and my full-time is 50-60 hrs/wk plus the weekends I needed to come in. A typical undergrad who goes straight to MD/PhD following graduation may have 2-3 years of research but is part-time during the academic year, with full-time summer. Do the math and I would think that on average, it's roughly the same hours. Yeah, adcoms probably don't care enough to do the math though. So I wanted to take at least a year off to do research so I could compensate a bit more and solidify. Not saying my year so far is enough to qualify, but you gotta understand where I'm getting glimpses of optimism :D

    Assuming I can kick ass this next year with classes, overall GPA would jump to roughly 3.7 and science GPA should jump to 3.5... Obviously though, numbers are what you need to get through first. We'll see what happens. And sector9, I got a gift certificate for a Kaplan prep class that expired this year so wanted to take it while I could. $2000 is a lot of money to not take. Figured I should at least try.

    Appreciate the replies.
     
  9. Blarry

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    have you looked at admissions stats for MD/PhD? although it will be a slight long shot with his current stats if he can get a good mcat and boost the GPA to 3.6 ish you have a shot. scores as low as 2.8 and 24 mcats have been accepted to MD/Ph.D programs so nothing it impossible.

    don't let the overly pessimistic people on SDN get you down. if you think about it how much does a PREMEDS opinion really matter? just focus on what you need to do and forget about this site until you apply.
     
  10. TriagePreMed

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    You're a premed too. If I get into med school, does that make my word law? Or maybe you shouldn't come in here if you are seeking the help of experts.

    According to the stats released by the AAMC, some people with UNDER a 2.0 have gotten into MD. Does that make it so that we should start saying "you got a shot!?"
     
  11. sector9

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    I'm gunning for a 2.1 GPA and a 34 MCAT, since 100% of the applicants in the past 3 years with those stats got in!!!!! Sure, n=2, but don't tell me it can't happen, you so-called expert!

    Meanwhile, back in real life, the OP does have a shot at getting in. If he raises his GPA, continues the research and gets some cool presentations or publications, then he will become a much more competitive applicant. The fact remains that he is facing stiff competition for a MD/PhD seat. There is a low probability of acceptance at this point (which is all we can base our advice off of so far), but the OP has at minimum a year left before applying. If he gets all A's in his science classes, his sGPA will hopefully have a nice upward trend. And the MCAT is a huge piece of the puzzle that we're missing too (hopefully the OP doesn't score too low the first time since more schools may begin averaging out the scores, since current data suggests that averaging the scores is the best indicator of future board scores). I'm not willing to say "You have no shot" but the next year or so will be very important.
     
  12. Silverfalcon

    Silverfalcon Do It
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    Choose one - either MD or PhD - and just focus on that route.
     
  13. warypremed

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    Change the pronoun to a "she".

    :)
     
  14. Catalystik

    Catalystik Platinum
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    Keep in mind that there are 6 DO/PhD programs available for consideration besides the less-selective MD/PhD programs.
     
  15. SpartyfromCali

    SpartyfromCali DO Student
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    Agreed. But the more options you have, the better it is in the end.

    Here's the deal:

    When I applied a few years ago, I had a 28R, 3.44 GPA (3.5 Science GPA), and double majored in bioengineering and microbiology (UCSD). I had about 3 years of research experience (a summer at caltech, remaining time at UCSD) with 5 publications (1 first author, 3 second authors, 1 fourth author) in pretty decent impact journals (impact factor ranging from 5-14). I had maybe about 200 hours of volunteering in the hospital over 2 years.

    My mentality at the time was that I probably couldn't get into one of the top tier schools based on stats alone, so I applied to mainly MD/PhD schools that weren't MSTP (with the exception of Mount Sinai and Albert Einstein since I wanted to be in NY at the time....chasing a girl), straight MD programs, DO/PhD programs. (applied to 12 programs, got 8 interviews). If I had known those rates, I would've applied to more.

    In the end, I got rejected from Mt. Sinai (no interview), waitlisted at Einstein, 2 MD/PhD acceptances, 4 MD acceptances, 1 DO/PhD acceptance.

    I'm not going to say that stats don't matter because they do. But when you're applying to one of these dual degree programs, it's really important (one of the most decisive factors) that you demonstrate a high level of commitment to research. They want to see dedication and that you actually want this since it's no walk in the park. I'm starting my 4th year currently and it has been progressively more challenging as time has gone by (pm me if you want more details).

    So, you're definitely on track with the research and first author pubs are key. Not very many people have these...

    I would say hold off on your mcats until you're completely ready (saves you cash too :D) Give yourself a fair amount of time to study. I rushed it and tried to study when I was working about 75 hours a week and I didn't do as well as I wanted.

    As for your GPA, just try your best to bring it up to what you mentioned earlier. And you may not think that they do, but they do take what you major in and what undergrad institution you're at into consideration after the first cutoff point. So if you hover around a 3.5 and get 33+, you should be able to get through the first cutoff point at a lot of MD/PhD programs, alot of MD programs, a lot of DO/PhD programs.

    Lastly, a lot of physicians without their PhD, do high impact research so it's really not necessary in the end. But it does provide you with some advantages along the way (pm me if you want to learn more about these).

    Just study hard in your last year, prepare well for your mcat, and keep plugging away with the research and you'll be fine.
     
  16. Meihua

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    MSTP's generally aren't as worried about clinical exposure as MD programs are. My brother had about 60 hrs of shadowing (and no other clinical exposure), and he was accepted to 4 MSTP programs. He said he probably couldn't have gotten into some of those schools for MD due to his lack of clinical experience.

    MCAT's really going to be the kicker here - if you can get at least a 35 (and bump your sGPA above 3.5), you'll at least have a chance to let the other elements of your application speak.
     
  17. soundnin

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    another vote of confidence here. your gpa is fine - it won't get you screened out anywhere (except maybe top MSTP if somehow the applicant pool is insane the year you apply). there are plenty of "mid" level MSTP and non MSTP fully funded MD/PhD programs that get less applicants, but honestly, with another year of research (some pubs), a 3.6ish GPA, and shoot for a mid 30+ MCAT (just cancel right now if you don't think you will do well, and can only improve slightly next year. some program administrators don't view a few points improvement as "improvement since anyone can take a course to boost their score by a few points"), i think you're a very strong candidate. beyond a certain point in terms of numbers, it's all about the research...
     
  18. Silverfalcon

    Silverfalcon Do It
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    I still don't see here a compelling reason for OP to pursue the dual degree route. There is no "physician" side of "physician-scientist" part with the exception of advices from the peers/lab mentors.

    Might be something worthwhile to think and ask yourself before you go on further.
     
  19. warypremed

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    I appreciate the positive attitudes and miracle believers, heh! I do know someone with a 28 MCAT who is MD/PhD though I do not know his/her GPA, so a low MCAT cannot bar me, although it would definitely help with the rest of my application..

    SpartyfromCali, I may be PMing you later on if that's okay. I appreciate the insight though, and do realize there are DO/PhD programs out there. Though if I can get into an MD/PhD, then I'd shoot for that, you know?

    While I perfectly understand that I can go MD only and still do research, and may apply as MD to a few schools if all else fails, I have the same reasoning as before: if it's possible for both, why the hell not? Obviously I have other reasons for wanting to pursue MD/PhD that I'll save for the personal statements but for sure, I have thought about it and continue to do so.

    Thanks for the tips, folks.
     
  20. pfaction

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    Topics like these give me great hope.
     
  21. Silverfalcon

    Silverfalcon Do It
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    I think you missed my point, which was on why you couldn't just go into PhD route that would have higher percentage of success than MD/PhD route in terms of application cycle result. On this post however, you are suggesting about applying just as MD also - it seems contradictory here. Initially, you explained how you were only considering PhD, and MD/PhD was rather new route that those around you suggested it. Now, it seems like MD (not PhD) is a back-up... which again hints that you don't seem to fully know what you want to do.

    MD/PhD definitely receives more attractions than just PhD route because you are less "dependent" on grants since you can bring additional revenues through private practice. I actually have a friend who is planning to do a similar thing from PhD to MD (not MD/PhD I don't think), but as far as I know, I don't really see the reason for the transition in that case either - besides the whole comment of "oh I figured I can do research on the side and make a lot more money." Like others though, I do wish the best - but what I say here is something that is definitely worthwhile to think about. If your main goal is research, then you should just go for PhD.
     

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