Jul 7, 2009
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Hey guys. This is my second thread, all my information is in my first thread, here: http://forums.studentdoctor.net/showthread.php?t=644335

I'd like to do the MD/PhD combination degree at whatever school I go to, but I know that my low GPA is going to be a problem even for MD applications, let alone MD/PhD. I know that every school I'm applying to allows second-year medical students to apply to the MD/PhD program, but I don't know how hard it is to get in then as opposed to now. So my question is, with my GPA, MCAT, experiences, etc., would it be better to apply to MD/PHD now, or to apply for an MD now, and if I get in, apply in my second year wherever I go?
 

rgerber85

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Jul 20, 2009
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Hey guys. This is my second thread, all my information is in my first thread, here: http://forums.studentdoctor.net/showthread.php?t=644335

I'd like to do the MD/PhD combination degree at whatever school I go to, but I know that my low GPA is going to be a problem even for MD applications, let alone MD/PhD. I know that every school I'm applying to allows second-year medical students to apply to the MD/PhD program, but I don't know how hard it is to get in then as opposed to now. So my question is, with my GPA, MCAT, experiences, etc., would it be better to apply to MD/PHD now, or to apply for an MD now, and if I get in, apply in my second year wherever I go?
How low is low? The thing I have learned about Med schools is they're particular about GPA, MCAT scores and experience.

Med School, to me, seems more analytical to numbers rather than recommendations and experience. It's as if - your recs & personal statement are ignored unless you fall within the upper percentile of applicants.

Sucks, but it's reality.

I know a Primary Care who is now in his early 40's... he bombed undergrad (so he told me).. did a 2 year post-undergrad program and got a 4.0, studied like an animal for the MCATs and actually graduated from U. Maryland Med.

Regardless, do not be discouraged. If it's your goal... find your path there!
 
OP
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Jul 7, 2009
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Well, all my info is on that link I posted, but I'll put it here too:

On the one hand, my MCAT score is great. Here's the breakdown:
Biological Sciences: 15
Physical Sciences: 14
Verbal: 13
Writing: P
TOTAL: 42P

On the other hand, my GPA is pretty far down there:
High school dual-credit: 4.0
Freshman year: 3.27
Sophomore year: 3.21
Junior year: 3.15
Senior year: 2.89
TOTAL: 3.20

For what it's worth, I just graduated from Duke University in May, and I double-majored in Biomedical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering (Duke is ranked #2 for Biomedical Engineering by US News & World Report, and if I recall correctly, it was ranked in the top 20 for Mechanical Engineering up until this year). It probably goes without saying, but Duke engineering is HARD. Only three engineering majors in my entire graduating class (out of 265) managed a 4.0, and I'm fairly sure none of them were double majors. So, in that context, I'm hoping that my GPA might be a little more acceptable to admissions committees.

As far as extracurriculars or leadership roles go, I really haven't had time for anything like that since starting college. However, I have had a research position in a cancer drug discovery lab at Duke for the past two years (part-time during classes, full-time during breaks). Since graduation, I've been working as a medical scribe for a GI doctor at a hospital in Texas, which essentialy entails shadowing, plus writing all the doctor's historys & physicals and procedure notes. In a month, I'm returning to my research position, where I'll be until I (hopefully) go to medical school.

I'm a Texas resident, so of course I'm going to apply to most, if not all, of the TMDSAS schools as my safety schools, but these are the schools I'd really, really love to get into:
Baylor
Case Western
Emory
Harvard
Johns Hopkins
Mount Sinai
NYU
Northwestern
Stanford
University of California San Francisco
University of Chicago
University of Pennsylvania
University of Pittsburgh
University of Virginia
Vanderbilt
Washington University
Cornell
Yale
 

camaras2480

Wrapping things up
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Well, all my info is on that link I posted, but I'll put it here too:

On the one hand, my MCAT score is great. Here's the breakdown:
Biological Sciences: 15
Physical Sciences: 14
Verbal: 13
Writing: P
TOTAL: 42P

On the other hand, my GPA is pretty far down there:
High school dual-credit: 4.0
Freshman year: 3.27
Sophomore year: 3.21
Junior year: 3.15
Senior year: 2.89
TOTAL: 3.20

For what it's worth, I just graduated from Duke University in May, and I double-majored in Biomedical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering (Duke is ranked #2 for Biomedical Engineering by US News & World Report, and if I recall correctly, it was ranked in the top 20 for Mechanical Engineering up until this year). It probably goes without saying, but Duke engineering is HARD. Only three engineering majors in my entire graduating class (out of 265) managed a 4.0, and I'm fairly sure none of them were double majors. So, in that context, I'm hoping that my GPA might be a little more acceptable to admissions committees.

As far as extracurriculars or leadership roles go, I really haven't had time for anything like that since starting college. However, I have had a research position in a cancer drug discovery lab at Duke for the past two years (part-time during classes, full-time during breaks). Since graduation, I've been working as a medical scribe for a GI doctor at a hospital in Texas, which essentialy entails shadowing, plus writing all the doctor's historys & physicals and procedure notes. In a month, I'm returning to my research position, where I'll be until I (hopefully) go to medical school.

I'm a Texas resident, so of course I'm going to apply to most, if not all, of the TMDSAS schools as my safety schools, but these are the schools I'd really, really love to get into:
Baylor
Case Western
Emory
Harvard
Johns Hopkins
Mount Sinai
NYU
Northwestern
Stanford
University of California San Francisco
University of Chicago
University of Pennsylvania
University of Pittsburgh
University of Virginia
Vanderbilt
Washington University
Cornell
Yale
Your school list is impossible - I don't see you getting into any of these schools, and not Texas either. That GPA, regardless of major, with that huge downward spiral just does not bode well, even with that MCAT (amazing, congrats).

I don't think you will get into a school if you apply now, MD or MD/PhD. However, if you take the year off, take postbac classes or SMP, and get a publication out of your research (a publication is almost in every MD/PhD candidate's file), you may have some shot next time around.
 

Naijaba

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Apr 2, 2007
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camaras2480 is right. You should take a look at the MSAR GPA percentile rankings. The schools you're applying to have 10th percentiles of 3.5 or higher.

I take it you're very good at math. If a school as 80-150 slots, that's 8-15 spaces for that last percentile. You might as well throw out the students near the 10th percentile, say 3.3-3.5; I'd say about half. A conservative estimate would then put the number of available seats at around 4-8 for everyone with < 3.3.

The numbers are against you, my friend, but not impossible. Fortunately, your GPA and clinical are the only things that appear to be lacking, while most people dread the MCAT (you dominated it). A post-bacc program in your case is, without any doubt, something you must do. For a person in your situation you should absolute raise your GPA to 3.4/3.5, and then you will get one of those 10th percentile seats.
 

Stratego

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That downward grade trend will do little to inspire confidence in adcomms that you will work hard to excel in their curriculum, regardless of the reason. You might want to consider a year of an unofficial post-bac where you take full-time, upper-level Biology courses and get straight As. Ideally, you'd wait a year to apply so your excellent new grades would be on your application. I fear you are not going to get acceptances from schools of the selectivity you aspire to. Waiting a year to show that you deserve consideration at the more selective schools might result in an outcome that will make you happier.
 
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Jul 7, 2009
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Well, a year of postbacc isn't really an option for me. I've already graduated, and I'm taking a year off right now working at at hospital. I guess I could consider taking another year off to do a postbacc, but I don't want my MCAT score to expire, because then I'm thoroughly screwed.
 

Stratego

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AMCAS stats from the last three years tell us that you have a 70% chance of an acceptance somewhere if you apply broadly. If you don't get an acceptance this cycle, ask yourself what will you wish you'd done during this cycle to make getting in on your second try more likely. In other words, what is Plan B.

To invoke that 70% statisitic, you'll need to add some less-selective schools to your list.
 

camaras2480

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Well, a year of postbacc isn't really an option for me. I've already graduated, and I'm taking a year off right now working at at hospital. I guess I could consider taking another year off to do a postbacc, but I don't want my MCAT score to expire, because then I'm thoroughly screwed.
You could take courses this current year, can't you? Just cut down the # of hours at the hospital.
 
OP
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Jul 7, 2009
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You could take courses this current year, can't you? Just cut down the # of hours at the hospital.
I can't cut down on my hours at the hospital. It's a paid position as a medical scribe (and a really great opportunity to get some quality clinical experience, by the way. Far better than any shadowing I ever did), and so I can either work full-time or not at all. And I really think I need the clinical experience.

But I might be able to work a way around this, somehow. Nighttime classes, maybe? Though I don't know how many post-bacc programs would let you get by on night classes alone. It's at least worth looking into, I guess.
 

physicsnerd42

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I'd like to do the MD/PhD combination degree at whatever school I go to, but I know that my low GPA is going to be a problem even for MD applications, let alone MD/PhD. I know that every school I'm applying to allows second-year medical students to apply to the MD/PhD program, but I don't know how hard it is to get in then as opposed to now. So my question is, with my GPA, MCAT, experiences, etc., would it be better to apply to MD/PHD now, or to apply for an MD now, and if I get in, apply in my second year wherever I go?
Granted, my experience is only with Dartmouth's MD/PhD program. What I'd say, though, is that you're unlikely to get in to the MD/PhD after starting the MD if you wouldn't have been admitted to the program when you were first applying. I know some Dartmouth (grad and med) students who have applied to the program since I've been here, and I've only known one really exceptional grad student to have been accepted. All of the med students who have applied since I've been here have not received a spot.

So, apply MD/PhD if that's what you're interested in. With your GPA, though, it'll be difficult to get a spot unless you have some killer research experience (although your MCAT is very impressive). I also am unclear as to why you're only applying to the schools on that list. No MD/PhD program will be easy to get into, but you're really only applying to the most difficult schools to gain acceptance to. Apply to fewer of those schools and more "unranked" (for whatever good USNWR is) schools. Your undergrad institution and major don't really matter as much as many of the premeds on SDN like to think, so you can't really count on them to help you get in to a "top" school.

What may end up happening is that you get into an MD-only program. If that's what happens, then consider if it's what you feel like you should be doing. Don't, however, go to medical school thinking you can just get into the MD/PhD program once you get to med school since that's typically an uphill battle.

Also, consider whether you really need the PhD. Some MDs and DOs do very good research without the benefit of a PhD (although they typically spend a few years in a research fellowship). There's also the option of doing a year of research once you're in med school. I had one MD classmate do a Sarnoff fellowship and another do a fellowship year down at the NIH, so those opportunities do exist.

Anyway, I don't want to crush your hopes, I just want you to be realistic about the whole process and not start med school counting on getting into an MD/PhD program. I also would suggest that you consider some other schools.
 

camaras2480

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I can't cut down on my hours at the hospital. It's a paid position as a medical scribe (and a really great opportunity to get some quality clinical experience, by the way. Far better than any shadowing I ever did), and so I can either work full-time or not at all. And I really think I need the clinical experience.

But I might be able to work a way around this, somehow. Nighttime classes, maybe? Though I don't know how many post-bacc programs would let you get by on night classes alone. It's at least worth looking into, I guess.
Yeah look into it. Definitely keep the job if its all or none - thats a great experience.