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MSTP Programs

Discussion in 'Physician Scientists' started by Marquis_Phoenix, Apr 15, 2007.

  1. Marquis_Phoenix

    Marquis_Phoenix Junior Member 2+ Year Member

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    Is it better to stick around for 4 years of undergraduate or graduate in 3 years, if one has the opportunity?

    I'm uncertain how maturity will play in the minds of MSTP admissions committees.
     
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  3. Maebea

    Maebea Member 10+ Year Member

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    East of Eden
    Unless financial issues are a major concern, I would recommend that you spend an extra year as an undergrad. You will never again have the freedom that you experience as an undergrad, and graduating a year early is not worth that loss of opportunity.

    Annecdotally, I do believe that there is concern about those 20 and younger. The attrition rate of this group is fairly high-50% in my program. While programs will not reject applicants due to youth alone, they will likely factor age into the equation when they are making a decision.
     
  4. ThatOne

    ThatOne New Member 2+ Year Member

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    Jun 13, 2006
    I think maturity does factor into the equation somewhat. With the attrition rate as high as it is, and the investment the programs make as large as it is, a program would want to make sure that a candidate is mature enough to actually make the commitment to being a physician-scientist.

    Maturity != age, of course, but having more time to think about things and more experiences on which to base decisions can't hurt. If you wanted to graduate in 3 years, you could also take some extra time afterwards to work in a research lab or contribute to clinical studies etc and really make sure this path is for you. It's only to your benefit. Also, an extra year isn't going to make so much of a difference in the long run. Having some other types of fun before you have time for little else other than the joys of research and medicine might not be a bad idea.

    [edit] hah, I take too long to write! Maebae is definitely more of an authority -- feels good that my post is in agreement with him/her!
     
  5. gbwillner

    gbwillner Pastafarian Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup:

    This is your best course of action, IMHO. If you feel ready to graduate, do it. Spending another year as an undergrad can be fulfilling for some, and a waste of time for others. I fell in the latter category. I knew I was ready to move on. I spent a year at the NIH instead- it was a great choice. Not only did it confirm my interest in science (full-time research >>>>> semester/afterhours BS) This also helped me tremendously in getting into a top-tier MSTP program.
     
  6. TheCybermen

    TheCybermen 7+ Year Member

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    May 8, 2006
    i took two years off from school after graduating in 4 years. not only did it change my career goals drastically (the things i experienced at the workplace collectively served as the impetus toward pursuing the combined degree), but it introduced me to several new interests that i hope to pursue throughout life. if i had opted to go to school directly after college, things would be very, very different for me.
     
  7. SpeakLittleB

    SpeakLittleB Member 7+ Year Member

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    Apr 28, 2006
    Boston, MA
    marquis, i did undergrad in 3 years and am going directly into an mstp program. i also think age/maturity factors in in terms of the depth and quality of your research experiences and also your perceived level of commitment to md/phd. i had a few interviewers who commented on my youth and early graduation specifically. i was extremely careful to present myself as a mature candidate who had carefully thought-out goals supported by personal experiences. i think i even requested one of my recommenders to speak about maturity in their letter.

    anyway, i think everyone's suggestions are quite good in that other post-graduate experiences are always positive for your application and will benefit your personal growth. i feel ready and eager to jump into an mdphd career track, though, and i think if you personally feel that way, i'd encourage you to apply directly too. my application would definitely have been stronger with another year (since i had many significant achievements during this academic year that weren't on my original application in june), but even without them, i was able to do quite well.

    http://www.mdapplicants.com/viewprofile.php?id=5422
     
  8. Marquis_Phoenix

    Marquis_Phoenix Junior Member 2+ Year Member

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    May 6, 2006
    You are truly amazing. Harvard HST after third year.

    It doesn't hurt to apply once, and try again the following year, right?
     
  9. SpeakLittleB

    SpeakLittleB Member 7+ Year Member

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    Apr 28, 2006
    Boston, MA
    i think it would be best just to apply once rather than "try again" since it would be noted if you don't get in the first time. so i think, either all your effort into applying at the beginning of year 3, or wait until year 4.
     
  10. ThatOne

    ThatOne New Member 2+ Year Member

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    Jun 13, 2006
    Hahaha. It would kill me, I think. Applying once, spending so much money, spending hours on the phone tracking the completeness of my secondary applications, dealing with a solid 1.5 months of travel during which I really couldn't accomplish much personally/professionally... I wouldn't have the heart for a second pass, even though I did enjoy the nice dinners and neat conversations with awesome scientists and peers. But hey, each person is different, and if you think you could do it twice if you weren't satisfied with the results the first time around, more power to you!
     
  11. Marquis_Phoenix

    Marquis_Phoenix Junior Member 2+ Year Member

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    May 6, 2006
    Were they first author publications? - SpeakLittleB

    Maybe I should switch to a smaller lab, so I can get some more independence and control over the project and get some publications.
     
  12. Marquis_Phoenix

    Marquis_Phoenix Junior Member 2+ Year Member

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    May 6, 2006
    And with regards to it being noted that you didn't get in the first time. That matters for top programs too?

    If you applied to all top programs out of third year, and didn't get accepted to any under the assumption that you would try again with a broader group the following year. You would be penalized?
     
  13. SpeakLittleB

    SpeakLittleB Member 7+ Year Member

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    Apr 28, 2006
    Boston, MA
    no they were not first author. 2nd author and 4rd author in low journals from long ago in a field unrelated to my interests now. i don't think that these were key to my success. some labs and some fields just publish more often, and adcoms know that.

    i think what was key was that my PI (hhmi) wrote in his letter that I would be first author on a paper from his lab and that in his years of experience he had never had an undergrad take such initiative. this pub actually was never part of my app at all cuz it wasn't ready until this year. the only mention of it was in his letter. also key was that my other rec letters were at similar levels. i don't think it is the pub authorship that matters. the great majority of accepted students don't have pubs, but i think probably all have spectacular letters from their advisors..

    i don't think there is any official penalization system, marquis. but if i were an adcom seeing the same applicant twice, unless there is something gawkingly amazing in the app that changed in just 1 year, i'd think "geez what is up with this guy. we already told him that he doesn't fit our program" and send the app to the "penalized pile"..
     
  14. ThatOne

    ThatOne New Member 2+ Year Member

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    Jun 13, 2006
    Heh, nah, they only ever say "We got an overwhelming number of strong applications this cycle, and won't be able to offer you a spot"
     
  15. Neuronix

    Neuronix Total nerd Administrator Physician PhD Faculty SDN Advisor 10+ Year Member

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    There's two issues with that statement:

    1) How often do you think admissions is with it enough to look back to last year's pile and realize that person applied last year?

    2) Even if they did know, how do you know the adcom wouldn't say "Wow, this guy was rejected last year but is still going for MSTP, what dedication!" What you're saying is pure speculation. I'm not convinced it's right, but there's no consensus on this as I've heard varying opinions from adcoms on this point over the years.
     
  16. SpeakLittleB

    SpeakLittleB Member 7+ Year Member

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    Apr 28, 2006
    Boston, MA
    yes, to clarify to all, it is speculation. that's why i said there's nothing official, but that's what "I would think" if i were an adcom. of course it varies since it all depends on what that particular adcom thinks.. but even a few dissenters means you'll be a little worse off on your end. my advice is mainly, go for gold the first time and not just halfway by planning to do it again. for some apps, they ask if you've applied previously.
     
  17. hawkeey

    hawkeey Member 5+ Year Member

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    Nov 6, 2005
    I would definitely trying putting together the best application together before applying at all. So take that extra year and do something cool with it.

    Applying takes a heck of a lot out of you, and you don't want to have to do it twice. Believe me, you don't.
     
  18. Neuronix

    Neuronix Total nerd Administrator Physician PhD Faculty SDN Advisor 10+ Year Member

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    My impression of this thread is here's an undergrad who really wants to apply and many of you are discouraging him from doing so.

    I agree that undergrad affords you flexibility you won't have again.
    I agree that being young might ding you a bit. How much I'm unsure. One person in my class was 19 when they started. Hell, who remembers the 13 year old? Wonder how he's doing...

    Still, I agree with gbwillner, if you don't want to be in undergrad anymore and want to move on, you should. If you want to apply, I also think you should. Reapplying would suck, this is true. But wouldn't it suck to sit around for a year and wonder if you would have gotten in? The op is smart enough to weigh these sorts of issues.

    If he makes the decision to apply I still don't think that reapplying will ding someone's application. Marquis, you know you can contact program administrators directly and ask them. Since we can't agree here on SDN, maybe you should send some e-mails and see what people say. It's a pretty straightforward question so I assume the programs that are responsive will give you straightforward answers. It would benefit us all to know what they say.
     
  19. SpeakLittleB

    SpeakLittleB Member 7+ Year Member

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    Apr 28, 2006
    Boston, MA
    Neuronix, I don't see how there is much disagreement, or much discouragement here at all.

    Marquis, i agree it is a good idea to contact the programs if you are still wondering, though.

    To the best of my knowledge, we are all saying:
    1. yes maturity/age does matter (not completely negative, but it does matter)
    2. yes reapplying does matter (not completely negative, but it does matter)
    3. if you feel ready, go all for it
    4. otherwise, a year off would still be a great experience

    in fact, i was saying that i applied to go into an mstp right out of 3rd year, and that i was successful.
     

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