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MD/PhD hurting MD only chance?

Discussion in 'Physician Scientists' started by hzjames, Jun 17, 2008.

  1. hzjames

    hzjames New Member
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    Hi, I have heard stories of how applying to MD/PhD and ultimately not getting into MSTP will jeopardize one's chance for MD only acceptance (due to late decision maybe?). And somehow it seems (it maybe psychological) that extremely competitive MSTP applicants on MDapplicants do get rejected from many schools that they otherwise shouldn't have problem getting into MD only. Since many on MDapplicant don't specify whether they we offered MD only instead, does any one know if the above rumor has any basis?

    Also as obviously i'm still vacillating, what is the last day that we can switch from apply MD/PhD to only MD?
    Much appreciated.
     
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  3. JHopRevisit

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    Yes, it will jeapordize your chances a little. At my program, for example, students are evaluated by a separate MD-PhD committee, and only students that are "exceptional" (their words, not mine, I have no idea what that means) are passed on to the MD committee if they're not accpeted for our program. I know many programs evaluate you for both automatically (off the top of my head, Stanford, Wash U., I think, but this would be a good thing to call each office and ask about). However, even with these schools your application may be processed and reviewed a bit later putting you at a slight disadvantage.

    If you're worried about not getting in, first, ask yourself do I want to do MD-PhD or not? It's my personal opinion that the MD-only and MD-PhD route are sufficently different that you should firmly make up your mind between the two before you apply. If you need more time, take more time, whether you wait a year before applying or apply just to med schools and try to get in second cycle. We had a few students accepted this year who got in both MD-PhD and MD-only, and they realized they didn't know what they wanted to do, and it was just a mess for them and their families. Picking a school is hard enough without another decision you could have made months ago hanging over their heads.

    Then, if you're still unsure, apply a bit more broadly than you otherwise would. Hopefully, if you apply to enough schools you'll get in somewhere, it may not be your dream school but everyone gets the same degree(s) in the end. It'll also increase your odds in terms of MD-only schools that'll consider you if you get rejected (make sure you apply to plenty of these).

    In short, it'll hurt your MD-only chances just a little bit, but I suggest you take some more time to mull over MD-PhD vs. MD-only. If you're still unsure, call to make sure which schools apply broadly enough and you can overcome that small disadvantage.

    Focus more on getting in to a few schools and then selecting the best fit rather then on whether the "quality" of your application matches school "quality."
     
    #2 JHopRevisit, Jun 17, 2008
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2008
  4. Ariodant

    Ariodant Fiat Lux
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    This is a question I have answered multiple times. It really depends on the school. Some have parallel admissions, meaning your application goes through both MD and MD/PhD committees at the same time, and although they communicate, it affects neither your chance nor your time line. That means you can give MD/PhD at those schools a shot without worrying about your MD admissions being jeopardized. Other schools, on the other hand, put you through MD/PhD first, and should they reject you, refer you to the MD committee, and by that time you are likely way behind your MD-only peers. Therefore when apply to those schools, you have a choice to be made.
     
  5. hzjames

    hzjames New Member
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    Thanks for your replies. I guess I will reconsider carefully for some of the schools. I guess one can alway apply MSTP as an internal candidate. I just hope that changing program choice on my processed amcas won't cause my primary to be reverified and cause delay.

    Comments on mdapp is much appreciated:
    http://mdapplicants.com/viewprofile.php?myid=10495
     
  6. JHopRevisit

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    May I ask why you put that the Hopkins MD-PhD program was "too hard to get in?" It's hard to get in, but I wouldn't say it's any harder than Harvard, UCSF, etc.

    Your application is very strong. As long as you are passionate about research, know a decent amount about being a physician-scientist, have strong letters of rec. from research mentors and can communicate your research effectively you're a in the running for every program in the country. Apply MD-PhD for Hopkins, if you apply broadly enough (and your MD-apps list looks good) you'll get in somewhere.

    Jesus, have we really reached the point where kids with 3.90 GPA's, solid research experience, and top notch MCATs are worried about getting in? I can't promise you're going to any particular school, but as long as you have a decent helping of any of the qualities I mentioned in the second paragraph you will be an MD-PhD, as long as that's what you want.
     
  7. seraph524

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    I think applicants get more and more paranoid with each coming year ;)
     
  8. Ariodant

    Ariodant Fiat Lux
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    I think so too, and they seem to have a reason to be. The process has gotten intimidatingly competitive.

    OP, your app seems strong enough that you shouldn't have any major worries. If you are still paranoid (no offense, we all were), you might want to consider adding a few more schools to your list. UTSW, Emory, Chicago and NYU are among those that I would recommend.
     
  9. CancerKiller007

    CancerKiller007 mudphud wannabe
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    Looking at my peers, I think I have reasons to be paranoid...LOL!

    I would suggest that you add a few safety schools if you are worried, but with your stats, I am sure you will have no problem in getting into top 10 MSTPs.
     
  10. Maebea

    Maebea Member
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    Speaking as one who has been involved with MD-PhD admissions for nearly 20 years, I would disagree with the implication that the process is any more competitive than it was in the past. In the past 2 decades, applications to our program have increased by 30%; at the same time, the size of our entering class increased 39%. Nationally, the number of NIH-funded MSTP programs increased by 50%, and the total number of MSTP-funded trainees has grown by more than 20%. (Schools are increasingly using other resources to leverage MSTP funds, so as to increase the size of their programs.)

    In recent years, approximately 1600 indviduals apply to at least one MD-PhD program. Of these, ~50% receive at least one MD-PhD interview, and ~75% of those interviewed receive at least one MD-PhD acceptance. The AAMC just recently started compiling these statistics, so there are no historic data nationally. Locally, I can tell you that the percentage of interviewees has grown in lockstep with the growth in applicants to our program. Furthermore, the percentage of interviewees being accepted has remained constant.

    Despite the fact that the number of MD-PhD positions has grown to meet the increased number of applicants, is it possible that the bar has been raised on admissions? The numbers for our program do not support this. The average MCAT score of applicants to our program has increased from 33 to 34 since the "new" MCAT format was adopted in 1991. The average MCAT of those admitted ticked up from 35 to 36 (that is, from the 96th percentile to the 97th percentile). Average GPA rose from 3.83 to 3.87 in that same time. We do not have a quantitative measure for research experience, but qualitatively, it seems that the research experience of last year's applicants was no different from that in previous decades.

    What has changed is that applicants tend to be more neurotic (as Seraph suggests) than they were in the past. Among our students, the average number of MD-PhD programs they applied to grew from 5.6 in 1993 to 15.3 in 2007. The increase in competitive pressures that applicants feel is self-generated, and is not the result of changes in the MD-PhD admissions process. (One could argue that the slight increase in MCAT scores and GPA is the result of individuals pressuring themselves to increase their credentials. Last year, 20% of applicants to our program took the MCAT more than once. Twenty years ago, the figure was 5%.) IMO, today's applicants have it no worse than their predecessors did twenty years ago. The only change in the competitive landscape is in the part that lies between their ears.
     
  11. Ariodant

    Ariodant Fiat Lux
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    Thanks for the detailed insider info. However, I don't feel that the stats for the particular institute you just described can be generalized for others. Some schools that I know haven't increased the number of their MSTP spots in 4-5 years, while the number of applicants they see increase 10+% each year. The percentage of interviewees accepted is indeed relatively constant, and so are the number of interviewees, thus the competition increases mostly at the post-secondary, pre-interview step. Therefore, applicants feel that they need to apply more broadly to generate the same amount of interviews, which further increases the applications received at each school, and thus competition. The same is true for MD-only admissions.
     
  12. Maebea

    Maebea Member
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    I do think that we can extrapolate the experience to nearly all programs when you look at a 20-year time horizon. If you are just considering a 5-year window, then I would say that you are correct when you say that programs have not been expanding.

    I agree completely that the number MD-PhD applications has been expanding, but the number of individuals applying is growing at a much slower pace. I'm sticking with my story that the stress applicants feel is largely self-induced. I suppose the programs share some blame for the situation by making the application process easier. Several years ago many of the programs pursuaded AMCAS to include the MD-PhD questions on the common application. The idea behind this was to make it easier for individuals to apply to MD-PhD programs. Perhaps it has succeeded too well, as individuals have increased the number of programs they apply to, which causes application numbers to rise, which drives up stress and fear that one did not apply to enough programs, leading them to go back and designate more institutions, etc. Maybe programs should bring back their individual MD-PhD applications and institute an MSTP application fee; this should drive down the number of applications and may lower stress levels. (JK, although it would be nice to have fewer applications to process, and $25k in revenue from application fees would allow a program to serve better food at grand rounds.)
     
  13. Ariodant

    Ariodant Fiat Lux
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    I wont object to the fee now that I'm on the receiving end of it LOL.

    Many programs ask applicants to readdress topics covered in the MD/PhD essays on the primary, and some specifically prohibit people from recycling those primary essays, so I guess it's at least not universally easy to apply MD/PhD nowadays, then.

    Maybe they are trying to divert the pressure and frustration from applicants, but many program directors have expressed concerns over the rising competition. Since the NIH has capped funding, schools are reluctant to expand their MSTP programs. On the other hand, competition may hide in the form of limited choice rather than acceptance, i.e., fewer people are getting into their top choices.

    Some people have linked lagging economy to increased med school applications, but I won't go that far.
     
  14. ecoli

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    people want to celebrate the lagging economy by trying to get more debt?

    I don't know if I buy it. Also, isn't there supposedly a shortage of doctors and nurses? How can it be getting more difficult to get accepted?

    I know my generation has been getting screwed by being the children of the baby boomers, thus having more competition around. Perhaps as the next set of applicants will be less competitive , just because they'll be less of them.
     
  15. Ariodant

    Ariodant Fiat Lux
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    There has been a shortage of health workers for a while, but the bottle neck is in med school and the limited class size, not the job market. More demand prompts more applicants, which shoots up the competition.

    About the economy and med school, the theory states that people go to med school to put off joining the work force. Instead of sailing against the current, they choose to "hide out" and hope to later emerge as more higherly skilled, desirable workers--at least that's what I heard.
     
  16. seraph524

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    I definitely do agree with Mabea about how the paranoia of pre-meds, particularly MD/PhD applicants, are mainly self-inflicted. All of us freak out, overachieve, worrying how we won't get into schools, while an overwhelming majority of us are accepted into multiple schools. OCD? I think so. We need to end this vicious cycle! Who's with me?!?!
     
  17. ecoli

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    Sure... just as soon as I get accepted somewhere. :D
     
  18. Neuronix

    Neuronix Total nerd
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    Another great post by Maebea :thumbup:

    This has got to go in the FAQ somewhere.
     
  19. hzjames

    hzjames New Member
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    Thanks everyone for their contribution to the discussion. It has been really helpful. Regarding Hopkins' MSTP, I understand it is probably no more difficult than other top programs to get into, but the fact that "MD-only" seems rather rare after MSTP rejection does pose a dilemma. Hopkins is a wonderful institution and I'd love to purse a MD/PhD there, even if that means entering as MD only first. I don't want to be overly ambitious by applying MSTP and then rejected out right and hence deny myself of the possibility of being a part of JHU. Anyhow I just wanted to share my logic. I am still vacillating and I'd feel very privileged to be able to attend any one the schools that I applied to.
     

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