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MSTP--Ph.D. In Engineering

Discussion in 'Physician Scientists' started by SirTony76, Mar 3, 2007.

  1. SirTony76

    SirTony76 Senior Member
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    Hey Everybody, I am a second semester junior getting ready to apply for MSTP programs next year. I will happily attend any program where I can get an engineering doctorate--ideally in biomedical engineering.

    I am slightly nervous of my MCAT scores however, getting me accepted, I took the MCAT twice.

    Aug 06 - PS:13 VR:6 BS:11 W:M
    I obviously retook this because of the writing/verbal.

    Jan 07 - PS:14 VR:8 BS:10 W:Q
    I think my verbal may still be low, but I how much consideration do you think will be put in because I received a verbal test where the questions didn't match the passage for a passage. AAMC has agreed to send letters to medical committees explaining the situation for all students who received this test glitch.

    What does everybody think of my MCAT score situation for MSTP? Thanks a bunch.

    TP
     
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  3. OncDoc19

    OncDoc19 MS4
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    The verbal score is still pretty low, especially if you are a native english speaker. I too had the verbal glitch, and am a little ambivalent about the letter AAMC is offering - for now I've decided not to take it becuase I got an 11 on verbal and even though this is lower than my practice test scores I don't want to be seen as a whiner becuase this is really a fine score. Anyway, I would try to find out what the exact wording of this letter is. For example, if the letter says something to the effect of "this person had a glitch in the verbal section however we were able to provide valid scores", then the letter isn't really going to help your verbal score in the eyes of the ADCOMs. Also, considering that you have taken the MCAT before and did improve your verbal score on this exam schools may feel that this is really the best you are going to do.
    With or without the letter, the fact is your MCAT is a 32, which for many MSTP programs is below the average accepted applicant. This may or may not be a big deal depending on what your GPA is and how strong the rest of your app is. In regards to the verbal score itself, the biggest concern I would say is that you may not make the cutoffs at some schools with an 8. You definately need to apply early, and broadly. Also do some research on school's websites or use MSAR on MCAT averages and cutoffs for the school's you are interested in, and above all be realistic with yourself about where you are competitive so that you don't waste time and money applying to schools that you won't pass the MCAT screening cutoffs.
    Sorry, if it seem like I'm being harsh, I just wanted to give you some honest, non-sugar coated advice - really I wish you the best of luck
     
  4. SirTony76

    SirTony76 Senior Member
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    Thanks for the non-sugar coated advice...I actually really do appreciate it. I am actually a pretty hard person to offend. I didn't post the rest of my stats just because I wanted to know if an 8 in verbal was low enough to offset the rest of what I would think an excellent application.

    Right now I go to Marquette and I have a 4.0 in biomedical engineering. I also have completed two summers of research and this summer I will be working at Baxter Healthcare. I have tutored/TAed, and done some volunteering. I also am an athlete--I run trialthons. I also think I'll be sending some good letters. Do you think some of this stuff will offset that stupid 8? Thanks a bunch.

    TP
     
  5. OncDoc19

    OncDoc19 MS4
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    Your GPA is definately good and that should help you with your low verbal score. Again though, some schools have cutoffs for GPA and each section of the MCAT so you will want to find out what those are and not waste your time applying to places where the 8 doesn't meet the cutoff. As far as your ECs, personally I would worry about only having two summers of research. For MSTP you want letters especially from professors who know you in a research setting. I am usually pretty conservative when it comes to evaluating how good of a letter a professor can write me so I know I wouldn't feel as though someone had gotten to know me well enough to write a letter after only one summer of research. Also the ADCOMs are looking for people who have a commitment to research and show that through long-term projects. There is a high drop out rate for MSTP so commitment to research is the most important thing to show them. Bottom line is you have about 5 months research experiance - hopefully you had intensive projects for that amount of time and you can talk in-depth about those projects in your essay and interview.

    Probably the last thing you want to hear, but have you considered taking some off to do research and re-take the MCAT. You sound like a perfectly smart guy and I don't know how much you prepared for the MCAT or in what way but you would really benefit from upping the verbal score to at least a 10. You would also benefit from some more research experiance. I worry that the ADCOMs will really question your commitment to research if you haven't worked in a lab in college for extended periods of time.

    One more thing, do you have any shadowing experiance? Patient contact? These are important too. Maybe other people will think I am being to pessimistic, I just think that because this process is so expensive and time-consuming its important to be as good of an applicant as possible the first time around, especially for a program as competitive as MSTP.
     
  6. SirTony76

    SirTony76 Senior Member
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    The guy I did research for for two summers is a transplant surgeon so I've shadowed him and had patient contact with him. If I did in fact take time off to do research I think I wouldn't do it through academia, I would do it after I got my engineering degree and use it to work for a company--something like Baxter, GE Healthcare, Depuy, or Medtronic. We'll see how this summer goes working for a company instead of a school.

    TP
     
  7. totalcommand

    totalcommand Senior Member
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    Thought I'd give my 2 cents.

    Your verbal score on the MCAT is low, but I'd really avoid taking it again. The usual advisement is that you should take the MCAT two times max, or it sends up a red flag in admissions offices (they see all your scores, so if you don't do well a third time you're really shooting yourself in the foot).

    Definitely have AAMC send the letter along with your scores, no matter what the wording. Schools have no reason to look at it as an "excuse", so it can only help you, not hurt you.

    Your GPA is fantastic and so are your ECs. I think more research might benefit you - something long term where you really develop as a scientist. Like the other poster said, maybe a year off, unless you're really dying to get started and finished with your MD/PhD. (There are a lot of other benefits to taking a year off - relaxation, a break from school and tests, and getting to see how research is really done over 40 hour weeks and a full year. You'll learn exactly what to look for when you choose your graduate lab, the kind of people/PI you'll jive with over the long term, etc.)

    Your patient contact is adequate (it's not really a requirement when applying to MSTPs, but it can only help not hurt).
     
  8. Circumflex

    Circumflex Junior Member
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    You just need to get your foot in the door. You sound like the kind of person that will do well in the interview and would be a good candidate. The verbal score may be an issue at some places, but maybe this "glitch" letter will take care of that.

    Apply and see what happens - you never know. The worst case is that you don't get in and have to reapply. It sounds like you have some things you can do, plus you can have a chance to meet with some admissions people to see what they thought of your application.
     
  9. enhypnion

    enhypnion New Member

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    For a MSTP admissions committee as well as Med school admissions committee your MCAT scores will send up flags. You do have a great GPA, and good research experience, but the wide range of scores in your MCAT signals to them that you may have difficulty passing the USMLE exams. I would advise you not to apply to programs such as Duke or Stanford, since these programs traditionally have an automated screening process for MSTP /MD admissions, that I do not believe you would pass. Now understand it has been 10 years since I applied to medical school, so more schools may be using computerized screening, so do your research.

    Because you have a background in Engineering you have a slight advantage over your peers who have similar grades and MCAT scores. However, unless the competiton has similar disparities in their MCAT scores, this will not help you.

    So here is the advise. Research MSTP programs with a strong emphasis on biomedical engineering research. ( example.. Harvard MIT HST program, Johns Hopkins, Case Western..etc) Do you know any alumni from these programs, do you have any professors who have close contacts from these programs, does your research professor have any close contacts in these programs? These kind of contacts won't get you in, but they will get your application seen and past the intial screening. Also look at non-traditional MD PhD programs such as U of Illinois Urbana-Champange or local State University. These programs often allow you to "apply" to a PhD program during your 2nd year of Medical school. These programs tend to be less competive and still offer stipends and tuition waivers. Some programs such as Vanderbilt also have matching programs. (For example they may have MSTP funding for 6 MD PhD's, but they also have private funding for 6 more "non traditionals")

    Finally, take a year out, talk to the dean of admissions at the program you most would like to go to. (except Duke, because they tend to be less helpful than most of the big programs) Discuss your CV and find out what actions you can take to strengthen your application. You may be suprised how helpful they can be. Two exceptionally friendly admissions departments are found in Boston and St. Louis. ( I leave the rest to you).

    I hope this is helpful and I hope you get accepted. There are far to few BME MD PhD's in medicine and surgery.
     
  10. firstcranialner

    firstcranialner first year MD/PhD student
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    The Illinois Urbana Champaign has a new Bioengineering dept. but if you want to apply to them, I would recommend applying to the Dept. of Electrical Engineering as part of your MD/PhD. Its a top 2 or 3 in the nation with a strong emphasis on Imaging and Prosthetics. After all, U of I is where MRI was invented along with a whole bunch of other EE stuff.
     
  11. vector07

    vector07 Junior Member
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    Look at case western... strong biomedical eng. program there.
     
  12. durfen

    durfen I see plans within plans
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    Penn State, they've got new bioeng faculty for the med school. Artifical hearts.
     

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