MSTP acceptance vs trying for internal admission

Discussion in 'Physician Scientists' started by miz, Apr 2, 2012.

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  1. miz

    miz 2+ Year Member

    Oct 14, 2011
    Hi all!
    I am currently holding acceptances to a few MSTPs and am waitlisted with MD acceptances to my two top choice MSTPs. Under normal circumstances I'd take one of the MSTP acceptances and run with it. But a few things are giving me pause, and I wondered how heavily you might weight these things in making a similar decision. None of these factors alone would sway me away from an MSTP, but together they are strongly influencing my gut feeling.
    First, I value my family quite a bit. I don’t mind living apart from my family, but I would like to be there for the bigger gatherings and major milestones (Thanksgiving dinner, siblings’ graduations, etc). My closest MSTP acceptance is >3h plane flight away. This alone would not stop me from attending a distant program; my top two choices are both within driving distance.
    Second, I was single when I first applied, but am now in a relationship with someone who will be attending my top choice school in the fall, MD only (where I am waitlisted MSTP). I like this person very much and we share similar values. I would not ask him to attend an institution that was not his top choice and nor would he ask that of me.
    Third, I graduated college with no debt and spent some time working and saving money; I also have familial support. I would be able to attend and pay for medical school with reasonable personal sacrifices and some debt (similar to any other applicant).
    I like the MSTPs to which I am admitted and will attend one unless there is a good chance of getting into my top choice MSTP. Given that, should I consider taking the MD admission to my top or second choice and try to apply to the MSTP internally? I am committed to entering research as a career. Both programs accept internal MSTP applicants; one (my second choice) encourages waitlisted MSTP students to matriculate and apply internally. My top choice accepted two internal applicants this year; also, they keep a short waitlist and my position on the waitlist is reasonably favorable (has been admitted last year and the year before) but nothing is certain of course. All the programs are comparable in terms of research in my field. I am not sure of what I would do if I were rejected from an internal application to the MSTP. I’d probably spend an extra year on research during medical school and try to pursue research with the MD only, although this is not the best alternative. If I had been rejected outright, I would not consider applying internally. I have been productive in the past year and we are currently submitting two or three papers (all second authors, though).
    Would you take the chance on applying internally to the MSTP? What does it take to be competitive for internal application and would I be competitive?
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  3. bone88


    Nov 22, 2011
    I would (and did) take the MSTP acceptance for sure. Re-applying internally isn't a gamble I was willing to take. But I also didn't consider the personal reasons that you have so I can't completely relate.
  4. soundnin

    soundnin 5+ Year Member

    Jul 13, 2010
    lost in translation
    so the only factor really is that now you have a bf? i would say you should stick to whatever your choice (gamble or take the MSTP acceptance) was prior to meeting this guy (which sounds like take the MSTP acceptance).
  5. Neuronix

    Neuronix Total nerd SDN Advisor SDN Administrator 10+ Year Member

    Mar 14, 2002
    the beach
    Would I take the chance? No. But would you? This is a very personal decision. You'd also have to consider what sort of financial aid package the MD program would give you.

    As for the internal application, every school is different. Some take 75%+ of their internal applicants, and some almost never do. You have to ask. Generally schools ask the question: "Is this someone we would have taken had they applied MD/PhD?" In your case, you DID apply MD/PhD. So did you just miss the cut? Or did they really not like you for some reason and would never take you? Is there something they need you to do before they'll take you as an internal transfer? i.e. two years of excellent med school performance and some good reviews from lab rotations? This is another difference, some programs will consider you after one year of med school, while others will get as much money out of you as possible and never take internals until after two years of med school.

    The only way you're going to know is to ask very directly and hope they will give you very direct answers. Second looks are good for these sorts of things.
  6. 24thGrade

    24thGrade 2+ Year Member

    Jul 24, 2010
    when asking about your chance be sure to get real numbers of about how many applicants/acceptances they have had in the last 5 years or so.

    I only say this because students tend to say "oh yeah... sure we accept internal applicants" when it is really pretty rare. Even the numbers will probably lie though- at most places people are going to approach the director directly before bothering to apply and probably be given a pretty straightforward answer as to whether they have a good chance.

    Anyways, I think you should absolutely NOT count on being a part of this school's MSTP no matter what anyone tells you. Decide if you can live with 4 years of MD debt and maybe a year off in the middle and a summer of underpaid research. Further definitely consider the debt you will be incurring through this route and how it might (or likely will) keep you out of research in your future. Even if you only have two years of debt though and are then accepted to the MSTP you could still be easily looking at $120k+ with living expenses etc. which at the end of your program is going to influence you decisions on future research.

    In terms of your family, consider that distance within the US really doesn't make a ton of difference unless you are without a couple hour car ride. Otherwise the difference is really just a matter of sitting on a plane maybe an extra 30 minutes.

    Tough call. Good luck with your decision.
  7. miz

    miz 2+ Year Member

    Oct 14, 2011
    Yes, after thinking it over I think it boils down to whether I am willing to risk not getting into the MSTP. I see now that there is a significant risk of not getting internal admission at any given institution no matter what the circumstances, which may not be worth it to me.
    I was planning on attending second look and perhaps meeting with professors; I'll talk to the director anyways and see what my chances actually are. Neuronix, I think that what happened is I didn't quite make the cut- the school accepts 16 and waitlists 9 people; I was waitlisted. I think they would be honest with me about my chance of internal admission (they were very forthcoming about my chances of admission off the waitlist, which aren't terrible nor ideal).
    I realize now that I would definitely pick the MSTP over my 2nd choice school unless I was accepted off that waitlist. Aside from the family issue, I prefer one of the programs I was admitted to over this school.
    soundnin, thanks, I think that's solid advice. I don't think I can consider the full situation rationally otherwise- it's making me not happy to think about it even now.
    I'll keep my fingers crossed for the waitlist but in the meantime, will make a decision regarding the programs which have accepted me! thanks to everyone for their advice, and I'll be sure to look very closely at the internal admissions policy at this school.
  8. miz

    miz 2+ Year Member

    Oct 14, 2011
    Just another thanks to everyone who suggested that I be cautious about internal admissions. I spoke with administrators at my second choice school, and it turns out that not only do they encourage students to wait until after the second year to apply, many of the spots they offer are unfunded(!!). I'm really surprised. I still think their actual MSTP is great, but I would not pass up an MSTP to apply internally to this program.
    Haven't talked to administrators at my 1st choice school yet.
    Thanks again-
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2013

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