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MD/PhD dropout rate is 20%-25%.. is this true?

Discussion in 'Physician Scientists' started by chef, Jul 13, 2002.

  1. chef

    chef Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Nov 5, 2001
    students at 2 schools told me that about 1/4 of MSTP students drop out.. is this true for all schools?

    ALso, if one decides to drop out after 1 or 2 yrs, do schools make you pay back tuition, stipend, etc?
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  3. Resident Alien

    Resident Alien What? 7+ Year Member

    Jul 21, 2001
    Thats too high to believe.
  4. Darth Vader

    Darth Vader Banned Banned

    Actually, I wouldn't be surprised if that were true. We had a couple of MD/PhDers who decided to switch over to the MD program in my class. I've heard that Tufts (or BU, can't remember which one) is notorious for people switching out of the MD/PhD program too, apparently there is rumor going around that it is easier to get into MD/PhD and switch out then it is to get into MD there (they have a very financially poor MD/PhD program, they don't pay their students there). So 20-25% as a national avg sounds about right to me. I imagine that it is a smaller percentage at some of the big name academic power houses, but you'd be surprised, once you realize all of your friends are going to be going on without you and be able to graduate 3 yrs earlier then you are, it really tests the resolve of the MD/PhDer to stick with it. Particularly once you learn how much academic physicians make compared to their peers in private practice; I think that a lot of people don't find that out until after they are already in med school.

    As for the policy of what MD/PhDer have to do financially, it differs from school to school. Some require you to repay your stipend and tuition with interest right away (really difficult to come up with that large sum without going into some high interest loans sometimes), some just give you a stern look as you turn in your resignation letter. Usually, schools get mad at students that drop out, I don't know if they actually do anything about it though. Like at our school, you have to go explain to the dean why you are dropping out; I'd hate to have to do that unless I had a really, really good explanation. So it's worthwhile to find out what your schools drop out policy is before you enroll, you might be adamant in your decision to pursue MD/PhD right now but so were a lot of other people who later decided to drop out.
  5. Gradient Echo

    Gradient Echo Banned Banned

    Jul 12, 2002
    Baltimore, MD
    Theres no way to know if 25% is average or not, because nobody keeps statistics on who drops out and who stays in.

    At my school, its way less than 25%, but then again I cant say for sure what the exact percentage is.
  6. none

    none 1K Member 10+ Year Member

    Jul 27, 2001
    25% sounds very reasonable to me, if not a bit low. This is an amazingly difficult career choice to make and not just for the social logistics of your class leaving you behind. You're almost definitely going to be earning less than people who are less educated than you. In even the short run, the stipend doesn't come close to making up for this. Further, as far as I know, MSTPs don't require a payback for dropouts. Other MD/PhD programs are probably different as the school itself would then have to eat the debt. I just don't think an adcom, usually made up primarily of people who did not participate in a formal MSTP, could really distinguish those who could make it through this tough process from the future drop-outs. It's an infinitely tougher choice for them to make than just those who could make it through med school. The reasons for med school are clear and defined, further they are distinctly supported by society. The reasons for pursuing a combined degree are very often vague and ill-defined, but more importantly, they would appear to work contrarily to societal values in terms of financial success and independence. Sufficeth to say, the pressure for just the MD is immense and coming in from all sides.
  7. jot


    unfortunately the only guy to get into stanford mstp from my undergrad has left to become a consultant - along with 2 of his friends in the med school. friends in other mstp's, yale/cornell have said that just a couple have left so far. as someone said, its probably lower for the big schools, but not terribly hard to believe otherwise.
  8. Vader

    Vader Dark Lord of the Sith Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Jun 4, 2001
    MSTPs do not require payback. Other MD/PhD programs may or may not--you have to check the specifics at schools you are interested in. Tufts has a fully funded MSTP. Boston University does not, so that is probably what Darth Vader is talking about.

    No one will be happy if you drop out, but if you have a very good reason to do so, then they will understand.

    Hope this helps. :D
  9. shamus1

    shamus1 Member 7+ Year Member

    Feb 18, 2002
    According to the guy that directs the MSTP for the NIH (my grandfather told me to always go to the horse's mouth rather than the other end), Bert Shapiro, the average dropout rate for MSTP students is "around 10%". This is probably comparable to the MD dropout rate and better than the PhD dropout rate, which is around 1 in 3.

    A plague on anyone who would enroll in a MSTP with the intention of dropping out after two years just to get free MD tuition. It would be better to be the illegitimate offspring of the ***** of Babylon than to steal a spot from someone who truly wants to follow the MD/PhD career pathway. Thus spake Zaranthustra.:mad:
  10. Thewonderer

    Thewonderer Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Oct 20, 2001
    Straight MD's drop-out rate should be way below 10% (5% at most but most likely to be 1-2%).

    Your MSTP-drop out theory sounds enticing!!!

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