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Medical School after Leaving Graduate School...Twice...

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MedicineNewb

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Hello all!

I left a T20 chemistry PhD program back in 2017 and I'm currently in the process of applying to resume my studies. I originally became interested in chemistry because of my interest in medicine, and I plan to pursue medicine in the future. I see many paths forward from here involving every permutation of getting the PhD first, not getting the PhD first, applying to MSTP programs, MD-only then research postdoc, etc.

In summary, I loved my school and the field of chemistry, but my advisor was not the right fit. Barring the overwhelming volume of specific details, he was almost completely absent for my first year and a half in his lab. I was very patient as he continued to promise things would change, but I eventually recognized that these claims were not materializing. I switched labs as soon as I had this realization, but I was already very far behind and decided to leave the program. The master's degree was off the table at this point because it had the same requirements to pass the oral exams (and therefore be eligible to continue towards the PhD), in addition to writing a master's thesis. This was not a viable option with my limited research output, and if I had completed enough research, I would have simply continued on with the PhD.

After I left the program, I went into a chemical engineering program, but I could not complete that alongside working full time. My immediate financial demands made it a requirement to work while taking classes, and I simply could not handle both. I stopped attending classes within the drop period, but failed to actually drop the classes.

Now I have three F's on my record, and a history of leaving graduate programs. This does not look good for me.

My goal is to work as a physician-scientist, so you could see why I would like to resume my studies and complete the PhD first. While a PhD may not make more competitive for admission to MD programs, at the very least it communicates that I am capable of finishing what I start, and will put me in a position to carry out independent research. However, I acknowledge the reality that I may not be admitted back into the program, and I'll need to begin damage control immediately. Starting with getting those F's off of my record, bolstering my volunteering/clinical/shadowing experience, etc.

If I am not recommended for readmission, my immediate goal is to get into an MD program. How would you all recommend moving forward with damage control?

For the sake of completeness, here are a few of my stats:
uGPA - 3.47 (surprisingly, top of my graduating class in my major)
sGPA - 3.32
5 total years of research; 3 undergraduate, 2 graduate
Undergraduate Chemistry Student of the Year
Won an undergraduate research grant
Won a graduate teaching award
2 oral presentations, 2 poster presentations

Thanks in advance for your help!
 
D

deleted367183

They weren't in the sciences, but I dropped out of no fewer than 3 graduate programs before applying, and now I'm a resident. Philosophy, religion, and nursing. Nursing may not have looked like a drop on paper because I left with a BSN, but it was supposed to be a 3-year NP program, and I sure as hell dropped out.

But I don't know how dropping out of science/engineering programs looks for a potential MD/PhD. That may be a different story.
 
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Goro

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Hello all!

I left a T20 chemistry PhD program back in 2017 and I'm currently in the process of applying to resume my studies. I originally became interested in chemistry because of my interest in medicine, and I plan to pursue medicine in the future. I see many paths forward from here involving every permutation of getting the PhD first, not getting the PhD first, applying to MSTP programs, MD-only then research postdoc, etc.

In summary, I loved my school and the field of chemistry, but my advisor was not the right fit. Barring the overwhelming volume of specific details, he was almost completely absent for my first year and a half in his lab. I was very patient as he continued to promise things would change, but I eventually recognized that these claims were not materializing. I switched labs as soon as I had this realization, but I was already very far behind and decided to leave the program. The master's degree was off the table at this point because it had the same requirements to pass the oral exams (and therefore be eligible to continue towards the PhD), in addition to writing a master's thesis. This was not a viable option with my limited research output, and if I had completed enough research, I would have simply continued on with the PhD.

After I left the program, I went into a chemical engineering program, but I could not complete that alongside working full time. My immediate financial demands made it a requirement to work while taking classes, and I simply could not handle both. I stopped attending classes within the drop period, but failed to actually drop the classes.

Now I have three F's on my record, and a history of leaving graduate programs. This does not look good for me.

My goal is to work as a physician-scientist, so you could see why I would like to resume my studies and complete the PhD first. While a PhD may not make more competitive for admission to MD programs, at the very least it communicates that I am capable of finishing what I start, and will put me in a position to carry out independent research. However, I acknowledge the reality that I may not be admitted back into the program, and I'll need to begin damage control immediately. Starting with getting those F's off of my record, bolstering my volunteering/clinical/shadowing experience, etc.

If I am not recommended for readmission, my immediate goal is to get into an MD program. How would you all recommend moving forward with damage control?

For the sake of completeness, here are a few of my stats:
uGPA - 3.47 (surprisingly, top of my graduating class in my major)
sGPA - 3.32
5 total years of research; 3 undergraduate, 2 graduate
Undergraduate Chemistry Student of the Year
Won an undergraduate research grant
Won a graduate teaching award
2 oral presentations, 2 poster presentations

Thanks in advance for your help!
Your stats and history do not bode well for MD programs, much less any MD/PhD program. Did you not have the option to simply switch labs?

Read this:
Give the hole you have dug yourself into, if you're more interested in research, just get a PhD. If you have any desire to be a doctor, DO is your best chance. Beggars can't be choosy. I suggest that you forget any graduate program except SMP.
 
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MedicineNewb

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Goro, I have read your thread before. There's quite a wealth of information in there. I created this thread in case anyone had any direct recommendations for my specific situation.

Did you not have the option to simply switch labs?

I did switch, but it was very late in the game and it was extremely hard to catch up. I was too patient with my first advisor, and I wasn't aggressive enough in taking control over my own education. This was a major lesson I learned too late.

I suggest that you forget any graduate program except SMP.

Let's assume for the time being that I have my heart dead set on MD programs--would my case for an MD be considered more strongly if I completed the PhD? Not due to being a PhD holder, but more so as evidence that I am not a quitter?
 

chaim123

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Not due to being a PhD holder, but more so as evidence that I am not a quitter?

I don't think so. PhD degrees themselves don't necessarily confer an advantage, as you're already stated. Additionally, completing a degree that you don't intent on using may also come back to bite you. Unless you intent to combine your PhD with your career and make that part of your story, it may be better to go the SMP route and talk about how you found medicine and made the switch that was right for you.
 
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MedicineNewb

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I don't think so. PhD degrees themselves don't necessarily confer an advantage, as you're already stated. Additionally, completing a degree that you don't intent on using may also come back to bite you. Unless you intent to combine your PhD with your career and make that part of your story, it may be better to go the SMP route and talk about how you found medicine and made the switch that was right for you.

Thanks for your response! I would like to develop a career as a physician-scientist, so I would extensively utilize the skills I would build in the PhD program.
 

Goro

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Goro, I have read your thread before. There's quite a wealth of information in there. I created this thread in case anyone had any direct recommendations for my specific situation.

I did switch, but it was very late in the game and it was extremely hard to catch up. I was too patient with my first advisor, and I wasn't aggressive enough in taking control over my own education. This was a major lesson I learned too late.

Let's assume for the time being that I have my heart dead set on MD programs--would my case for an MD be considered more strongly if I completed the PhD? Not due to being a PhD holder, but more so as evidence that I am not a quitter?
Nope. I can't sugar coat this:
1) Your academics are weak
2) PhD programs are notorious for grade inflation and lack the course rigor of med school. MD schools do not count their GPAs inot your stats.
3) You still have a track record of not finishing what you started. In essence, you have a history of making bad choices.

Something else to consider, at least in how your coming across,is that you're hell bend for research. This is all well and good, but MD programs, even at the research who...um, obsessed schools, still want people who want to be doctors, not merely researchers. They're not looking for grad students.

Have you even shadowed doctors? Volunteered with patients?
 
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Genji_Shimada

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Your academics aren’t weak and people at some schools read your personal statement. My gpa was super high mcat low, got me scholarship after failing out of podiatry school.

I quit physics 3x before taking it cuz I’m dumb. Worked hard and had over 100% in i and ii. In the interview when asked I thanked them for pointing out how despite a concern being apparent, I clearly can achieve when I commit. She looked mad, and I got a scholarship.

you quit grad school. So like the above person said, it only inflated things right? You were just being efficient. Can’t sugar coat it sorry.
 

alw44

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I left my PhD program with my M.Phil. after passing my candidacy exam... for personal reasons.

I’m actually shocked to hear that PhD programs are known for grade inflation. My courses were quite difficult and small so only one person got each letter grade. It was so competitive because of that.

This thread is very discouraging for me.
 

GreenDuck12

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I left my PhD program with my M.Phil. after passing my candidacy exam... for personal reasons.

I’m actually shocked to hear that PhD programs are known for grade inflation. My courses were quite difficult and small so only one person got each letter grade. It was so competitive because of that.

This thread is very discouraging for me.

There is a difference between leaving one graduate program and leaving two separate graduate programs. Life happens - sometimes we need to stop doing things to manage other aspects of our lives. Doing so twice - this begins to look like a trend and will cause a reasonable person to wonder if the applicant will make it through their program. Medical schools rarely accept transfer applicants, so any matriculant that leaves represents a significant loss of financial resources for each year that that person would be enrolled. With so many qualified applicants, admissions committees can afford to be risk averse.

As for graduate GPAs, it largely depends on the program or institution as to whether or not the GPA is inflated or rigorous. However, because most applicants to medical school do not have a graduate degree, or have taken graduate courses, it is quite difficult for admissions committees to compare applicants using undergraduate and graduate GPAs. For that reason, undergraduate GPA gets more weight.

Don't be discouraged. Each persons scenario and goals are different. Advice varies accordingly.
 
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Dral

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"I originally became interested in chemistry because of my interest in medicine"

That statement comes off as a justification instead of a truth to me. I could be wrong. I'm not pointing it out to be rude, but I want to try to help.

It sounds like you're saying: Well I always MEANT to go to medical school all along, but that chemistry stuff happened too. Now I'm back.

You will need to really justify your interest in medicine to get into medical school after all that has happened. I don't recommend you lie about anything, but meds schools are going to look at you like "Couldn't do grad school, now trying med school".

I already had a PhD before med school and I feel that it can actually be a disadvantage sometimes.

I believe that you can do it if you have decided it's really want you want to do. You're really just going to have to put your money where your mouth is though.
 
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