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MPH and Science

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by Cocoon, Oct 7, 2002.

  1. Cocoon

    Cocoon Junior Member

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    To all med students who got an MPH before applying to med school. Did you take any grad science classes to compensate for the lack of science courses in MPH? I am a first year Epidemiology/Biostat student and so far I am taking Biostatistics and Intro to Epi and few other classes. I know that I will be taking Cancer Epi, AIDS Epi, or Cardiovascular Disease Epi next semester. Did any of you take Toxicology or other kinds of grad science courses? Any help will be appreciated.
     
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  3. notstudying

    notstudying Senior Member
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    No, I didn't take any extra science courses (but I did have to go back and take the required premed courses). I don't think it hurt at all in admissions, however I do wish I had taken an undergrad biochem course 1st. Applicants with graduate basic science courses under their belts are pretty common-so you'll stand out with the MPH coursework. Try to get involved in a research project (most programs have a thesis requirement anyway)-that's the kind of stuff (like getting on a paper), that will also get you noticed. Good luck!
     
  4. Fireblade

    Fireblade Junior Member

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    I did an MPH in International Health (LLU) prior to starting med school. As electives for the degree I took classes in HIV/AIDS and Epi of Infectious Disease. Don't think that these really had any bearing on my overall status, and really the MPH was as an adjunct to work that I am currently doing while in school and will do on the other side of residency, etc. My undergrad was biomedical science, so it was stacked with classes like patho, neuro, anatomy, etc.

    If you really need to improve your undergrad, most schools will look more favorably and adjust your gpa if you take more post bacc med school-like science classes. I have tons of friends that either went back to school, taking these classes or just kept taking classes beyond their undergrad if they weren't successful in getting in on their first try.

    After getting an MPH, I believe that it really is only worth it if you really feel that it is a necessary addition to your future plans. The field of public health is filled with people with degrees other than MPH's, therefore it is not at a point that yet necessitates the degree to work in the field - probably one of the pitfuls for the profession right now. However, as more and more focus turns to preventive health, bioterrorism, epidemiology, etc, those individuals with this degree (especially in addition to a medical degree) will most likely be highly marketable - a good thing to consider in a competitive market.

    j
     
  5. atsai3

    10+ Year Member

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    MPH won't help you at all. The only way master's-level courses will help you boost what admit committees regard as your undergrad GPA is if you take post-bacc classes or enroll in one of those Master's of _____ (Anatomy, Medical Sciences, etc) programs like at CWRU, Georgetown, BU, etc.
     
  6. notstudying

    notstudying Senior Member
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    I completely (but respectfully) disagree. I had a non-stellar undergrad GPA (3.4), and MCATS (30), but had an MPH, a couple of publications, and a little research experience. I was told flat out by an admission committee member that my MPH helped me stand out, it factored into every interview I had, and I got into my first choice med school (a very well respected one). An MPH is also a more marketable degree than a MS in a basic science-the adcoms know this, and want their graduates to look successful. I have also been told that it will help me stand out as I apply for residencies-especially since some fellowships are now requiring/encouraging MPHs for their fellows, and I'll be ahead of the game.
     
  7. Cocoon

    Cocoon Junior Member

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    Thanks for the responses. I am being realistic with my chances. I've always wanted to be a doctor, but i do have plan b. I'd love to be an epidemiologist and a doctor doing clinical trials. I just figured that with an M.S. i'm not sure how marketable i am if i don't get in to med school. So my plan know is to probably take some grad science courses as my electives. keep the responses rolling.
     
  8. DOCTORSAIB

    DOCTORSAIB Ophtho or bust!
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    Cocoon,

    It really depends on your application and your future interests. For example, imagine situation A: The applicant has a low overall and/or BCPM GPA (assuming decent MCATs) and has no genuine interest in the broader aspects of healthcare. In this case, graduate level hardcore sciences (i.e. human physio, biochem, mol. bio., histo, etc) are much better indicators of whether you'll be able to handle a medical curriculum. The admissions committee will value an MS in the sciences alot more than your MPH degree. Plus you'll be far ahead of your classmates in med school b/c you'll know most of the material being covered, especially first year.

    Ok, now imagine situation B: GPA is decent (3.4>) but the applicant is having difficulty gaining admission (once again, assuming MCATs are decent) and the applicant has some (or loves) public health. In this case, the MPH is priceless. It WILL set you apart from other applicants and it will open many doors for you in the future.

    Ok, now imagine applicant C: GPA is needs to be worked on "AND" the applicant has interest in public health. In this case, I would choose the MS in one of the sciences first. You want to prove to the Adcom that you are capable. However, if you really want the MPH, you can always take one grad level science class alongside your MPH classes.

    Personally, I needed work on my GPA and Im interested in public health so I did the one year program in Physiology at the Medical College of Virginia and now Im working on my MPH. Granted I had to postpone med school for another 2 years but IMHO I think the benefits will payoff in the future. Take care and good luck with your decision.

    DOCTORSAIB
     
  9. pathdr2b

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    I don't know about this one.....I went to Chapel Hill with the intent of getting an MPH and changed to an MS in Chemistry after few adcom members there told me "getting an MPH does not demostrate competency in the sciences. Get the "Hard Core" science degree.

    After graduating, I made ~60K as a Chemist in industry. I now make one third of that as a Cancer Epi fellow at NIH.
     
  10. notstudying

    notstudying Senior Member
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    I was thinking more as an adjunct to the MD-an MD, MPH is a very marketable degree if you are interested in research, administration, or academics (in clinical/health services research), almost to the level of an MD, PhD, whereas for basic science research the MD, MS from what I have seen is not as marketable as the MD, PhD.
     
  11. pathdr2b

    pathdr2b Membership Revoked
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    [/QUOTE]

    Funny you should mention that, I'm applying to the MD/PhD track next summer;)
     
  12. notstudying

    notstudying Senior Member
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    Then you should do whatever program will get you credits you can use for the MD, PhD to make it shorter, because good grief it is long!!!
     
  13. ColumbiaMPH

    ColumbiaMPH Member
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    In order to answer the question of whether or not you should pursue an MPH or MS degree, I would first ask the question, "What do I want to do if I don't get into medical school?"

    If you are interested in doing research or working in biotech, then an MS is definitely the route to go. I decide to go the MPH route because I would like to work on the administrative side of medicine. Personally, I think the MPH offers you more opportunities (e.g, epi, biostats, family medicine, international health, policy, etc.) I also think that it depends on your interests for where you would like to apply. If you are applying for MD/PhD programs at research-focused institutions, then the MS will be more helpful. If you are applying to strong primary care/preventive medicine schools, an MPH will be more to your advantage.

    I think that another important aspect of making the decision is choosing the option that sounds more appealing to you and demonstrating to adcoms that you chose that option because you find it interesting, not just to make you look like a better candidate.
     
  14. brownman24

    brownman24 Member
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    I am getting my MPH now, mainly to boost up my poor undergrad science GPA. When I was applying to schools of public health, I was looking for programs that gave me the opportunity to take science courses in a public health setting. Yale has an MPH in epidemiology of microbial diseases. I have taken classes in microbiology, bacteriology, parasitology, virology, vector biology, and stats. They all count toward my MPH, and my undergrad pre-med counsellor told me that the curriculum was heavy enough in the sciences to make an impact on medical admissions.
     
  15. lola

    lola Bovine Member
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    I'm not a med student but am applying now. While I was getting an MS in Epi I took Physiology, Pathophysiology of Human Disease, and Reproductive Bio as electives. Physiology and Pathophys were my favorite courses!
     
  16. poloace

    poloace Senior Member
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    brownman-
    regardless of what your counselor says, make sure you understand that the courses you take en route to get your MPH will only count in your graduate science gpa... they won't raise any of your undergrad gpas- just wanted to give you a heads up-
    p
     
  17. Adcadet

    Adcadet Long way from Gate 27
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    I'm a second year Epi MPH student and applying to med schools. To answer your question: yes, I took a 2-credit tox course through my School of Public Health, and I took a 3-credit virology course through our micro dept.

    To diverge a bit - in some ways, epi stuff is "hard science." I work in a basic science lab, and I find my year of stats immensely useful. And what's "harder" core than math? Also, I find a good understanding of study design to be very useful as well. Also, study design could be considered "hard science" or science methodology witout much topical info.
     
  18. Adcadet

    Adcadet Long way from Gate 27
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    I also think research experience can help. For example, my basic science research requires knowledge of pharm, tox, immu, and reproductive biology. I would hope adcoms consider this if anybody says something about me not knowing "hard science."
     
  19. pathdr2b

    pathdr2b Membership Revoked
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    .


    As a Research Fellow in Cancer Epidemiology (at NCI), I agree with you 100%. But the perception in the science world is in my humble opinion, that Epidemiology is nothing near a "hard core" science. This is my observation from having worked at a Pharmaceutical company and from being at the NIH. It's not fair, but it is reality
     
  20. neuropsych

    neuropsych Member
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    I agree with pathdr2be. While epidemiology at various levels may be complicated, it is not nearly as complex as the basic molecular sciences. An undergraduate course in statistics and some research experience is ample preparation for entry into an epidemiology program. That being said, some public health students take molecular-based courses in virology and bacteriology, for example, which take on more of a scientific bent and would be considered good preparation for medical school.

    Epidemiology, however, assumes limited prerequisite knowledge of "how diseases work" and thus does not require much of a molecular science background that is essential in medicine. Screening, testing, surveillance, methodology, data collection, and interpretation (to name a few) are the essential functions of an epidemiologist.

    Nevertheless, public health is a fascinating field that offers several opportunities to graduates. I am currently an MPH student and am interested in applying to medical school. Public health has broadened my perspective regarding medicine insofar as it has allowed me to appreciate the role of prevention, nutrition, health administration, health law and ethics, occupational safety, epidemiology and biostatistics, and environmental health in modern medicine. If you have an interest in any of these areas, public health may be a field worth pursuing. :)
     
  21. lotanna

    lotanna Child of God
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    I'm a 2nd yr Epidemiology masters student currently applying, I'm on good terms with our dean at our med schl, and i know she finds it fascinating, because even in my classes, there are a lot of physicians, and so now they are tryin to encourage doctors to go back that route:) :clap:
     
  22. Adcadet

    Adcadet Long way from Gate 27
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    Yup, my program has a good number of physicians going back and doing it. We also have some MD/MPH students, and some residents and fellows.

    I just interviewed (at U of MN) with a PhD faculty member. The MPH didn't seem to excite him that much, but my research did. Hopefully my application readers will like the MPH.
     

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