MD-PhD or MD Only? Gap year to boost research? High Stats International Student

Aug 15, 2020
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I'm a current third year Canadian citizen doing undergrad in the US. I have a huge passion for research and I would love to become a physician scientist, but I understand that many MD-PhD programs are reluctant to accept international students for funding reasons. I know that MDs can lead fairly successful research careers as well, but I think my clinical experience is on the low side for MD. If I were to apply MD-PhD though, I think my research experience is passable but not standout enough for schools to take a chance on an international student. Should I take a gap year to get more clinical and research experience? Which should I apply for?

cGPA: 3.95
sGPA: 4.00
MCAT: 524
Research: part time during the school year since 1st year & 2 full time summers. Adds up to ~2000 hours by the time of application in May and ~3000 hours by the time of matriculation. No pubs and I don't expect any. I'm working on a very time consuming and frustrating basic science project (but I love it!). Some university level posters, presentations & scholarships but nothing impressive.
Clinical: 100 hours hospital volunteering, 50 hours shadowing 2 family medicine physicians.
Non-clinical volunteering: 400 hours or so
Leadership: Probably the strongest part of my application. Various org presidencies, other leadership positions, organized charity drives, some university level leadership awards, etc.
 
Mar 22, 2020
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Honestly I don’t see the reason for you to take extra years research when you can use that towards your phd. Nothing is guaranteed in terms of publications (assuming your doing basic science). Your app can’t get much stronger as long as you have outstanding lors. Only reason I see for you to do research would be to get another strong letter but I don’t really see why that’s needed, or pubs, which is not guaranteed as I’ve mentioned. Many matriculants apply without pubs and are accepted to mstp programs.

I will have done four years of research by the time I hopefully matriculate. No papers were published for my first three years (hehe but now i have co-authorship in nature subjournal, cell, etc.). I’ve seen too many other techs get unlucky and have nothing to show for their time in the lab.
 

gonnif

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1) Many of the MD-PhD programs are funded via the NIH MSTP

Medical Scientist Training Program
Many institutions supplement the basic stipend provided by the MSTP grant. MSTP trainees must be citizens or noncitizen nationals of the United States or have been lawfully admitted for permanent residence. Trainees incur no payback obligation.

2) to get into an MD-PhD you need be accepted to both MD and PhD. If you do not have enough clinical you may not pass muster for an MD adcom
 
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Feb 5, 2020
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Just apply broadly to private schools, and you might have a chance. MSTP is funded whether it's Harvard or a small private school.
 
May 27, 2020
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One of my friends had nearly identical stats to yours and was also an international applicant, and had an extremely fruitful cycle last year -- he applied straight away from undergrad with no gap years and had similar research hours to you as well. Also, publications are not necessary. A gap year, however, could still be very beneficial to you as it will reinforce your dedication to the physician-scientist path and shows everyone that you know what it's like to immerse yourself in a lab for a long, continuous period of time.

If you want more details on the "WAMC" end of things, Neuronix has a great sticky in the Physician-Scientist forum that you should check out; there may be some threads there for international applicants as well.
 
Feb 5, 2020
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One of my friends had nearly identical stats to yours and was also an international applicant, and had an extremely fruitful cycle last year -- he applied straight away from undergrad with no gap years and had similar research hours to you as well. Also, publications are not necessary. A gap year, however, could still be very beneficial to you as it will reinforce your dedication to the physician-scientist path and shows everyone that you know what it's like to immerse yourself in a lab for a long, continuous period of time.

If you want more details on the "WAMC" end of things, Neuronix has a great sticky in the Physician-Scientist forum that you should check out; there may be some threads there for international applicants as well.
Here’s another N = 1. One of my friends is also an international with similar stats as op but more research experience. Received only one ii so far...
 

pBar

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As has been stated, the NIH funding for the majority of MD-PhD training programs in the states have strict policies on international students. I would urge you to research individual programs before applying so that you're not just throwing money away.
 

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