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MSTP vs MD/PhD for matching

Discussion in 'Physician Scientists' started by buckyboy484, Feb 20, 2007.

  1. buckyboy484

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    At a few of the schools I interviewed at, the MSTP director would tell us the (essentially identical) story of MSTP students going to interview for a residency, and basically being separated out completely as the "desirables." I have not heard this story from any non-MSTP MD/PhD programs. Is this because it isn't true in both cases? Do they actually distinguish between us once we already have those degrees, assuming that if we didn't go to one of the MSTP programs we must be inferior?
     
  2. Circumflex

    Circumflex Junior Member
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    I'm in a non-MSTP MD/PhD program and am applying for residency this year. I've never heard any of this - either that one is regarded differently by programs or that MD/PhDs are "separated out as the desirables."
     
  3. gbwillner

    gbwillner Pastafarian
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    I doubt once you finish your MD/PhD that anyone would care how you got your degree, be it MSTP or not.

    If there IS a difference, I would bet it has to do with your institution. MSTPs are generally present at all the top medical schools, so if you're MSTP, you're not only MD/PhD, but you graduated from a top-notch program. I would be willing to bet that folks from top-tier medical schools get better residencies (OK, I KNOW this is true, but I'm being PC here).

    The distinction probably goes with the instutition, not the individual. Not all students in an MSTP program are necessarily funded by an MSTP grant. Students can be paid by other sources, and yet still be thought of as part of the program. In this case I sincerely doubt this distinction would affect them.
     
  4. OP
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    buckyboy484

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    I obviously don't know this first-hand, but I'm not exaggerating. At two places (I THINK MSSM and Stonybrook, but I could be wrong) the stories went something like this:

    "A student applying for residencies recently went to interview for [a competitive residency] at [a competitive school] and attended a presentation with a large group of other applicants. Afterwards, when most of the other applicants were going off to lunch, the MSTP students were told that they were eating in a different place with some of the top administration and more prestigious faculty."

    One of the two places added something about how the student was explicitly told that MSTP students were given preference.

    Seems like quite a promise to make, but still encouraging.
     
  5. QofQuimica

    QofQuimica Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting....
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    I've never heard of this distinction being made either, and I can't begin to fathom why it would matter. Still, I wonder what they would do with someone like me. I got my PhD from a non-MSTP school, but I'm getting my MD from an MSTP school. Maybe I get to eat two meals? :p
     
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  6. greg12345

    greg12345 New Member
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    This is all just based on my own personal experience and the experience of my fellow MD/PhDers who recently finished interviewing for residencies last month, but MD/PhDers are definitely singled out as "desirables" when it comes to residencies. Bear in mind that we all applied to academic institutional programs who place a high value on research, and the fields we applied to tend to value research a lot as well (most of us were interviewing for IM). In this kind of setting, as long as you are a GOOD Md/PhD student (good = solid PhD with multiple publications, good clinical grades during 3rd year) residencies will definitely kill to have you. I went to a MSTP institution but I doubt there is any difference if you have a MD/PhD from a non-MSTP institution as long as your PhD is solid and you have good clinical grades.
     
  7. Dr.Watson

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    I think having an MD/PhD is very valuable for residency regardless of where you got it - MSTP, non-MSTP, or separately. You'll likely end up in a good place career-wise no matter what.

    For example, UT-Houston's non-MSTP MD/PhD program has a darn good match list (http://www.uth.tmc.edu/gsbs/programs/mdphd/index.html). I'm not sure if all their years are online, but I've seen the full list and it covers the same big names as any larger MSTP program. Granted they get PhD's from MD Anderson and other big Texas Medical Center places, but their med school isn't top 50 ranked.
     
  8. Doctor&Geek

    Doctor&Geek 25 > 5 / 15 < 8
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  9. Dr.Watson

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    wow, thanks D&G!
     
  10. OP
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    buckyboy484

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    I feel silly, but I couldn't find any data breakdown for MD/PhD vs MSTP matching in that page. Also, it doesn't seem to give any indication of how many of those matches were first choice/top three. It does really drive home just how small a minority MD/PhDs are.
     
  11. greg12345

    greg12345 New Member
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    I really don't think that MD/PhD vs. MSTP matters; what matters is your individual residency application and how qualified you are. I would venture to say that no residency program would take a less-qualified applicant from a MSTP over a more qualified applicant from a regular MD/PhD program (non-MSTP status). If you have heard stories about MSTPers being shown special treatment over regular MD/PhDers during interviews I would say that is simply b/c they happened to be the most qualified.

    I wouldn't sweat too much about getting into a residency at this stage in the game. If you look at the places listed (e.g. IM at BWH, peds at CHOP) it's pretty obvious MD/PhDers are getting into their first choice, especially in the less competitive specialities like IM, peds, path. That may be less true for super competetive things like derm, rad-onc, etc. but I still doubt you'll have trouble matching at one of your top choices, if not the top choice. Just go to a good MD/PhD program (MSTP or not) with a good group of students, good program leadership, good research opportunities, a proven track record of producing successful graduates, and most importantly - somewhere you want to be for 8 years.
     
  12. chirurgino

    chirurgino A pound of flesh
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    I agree that your being MD-PhD will make you a very desirable residency candidate (face it, you've done more), regardless of whether or not you are from an MSTP program. That being said, during my interviews this year I had faculty at several different places specifically ask if I was in the MSTP program (my school has two tracks, MSTP and non-MSTP). I have no idea what the significance of that is, but people did ask me about it.
     
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  13. Doctor&Geek

    Doctor&Geek 25 > 5 / 15 < 8
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    Starred schools are MSTPs, the others are non-funded. Just compare.

    First choice/top three data often is not available for general medical graduates, let alone MD/PhD graduates. Besides, you're not going to rank a place that didn't even invite you for interview, even though you might have chosen to rank them top three had they did, so therefore most of that data is not very useful.
     
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  14. 1Path

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    So were the MD/PhD's from non-MSTP schools left without a meal?:confused:

    Personally I almost NEVER make a disticntion between MD/PhD and MSTP MD/PhD and this was long before I was certain that geographic limitations would make an NIH sponsered program an impossibility for me. I've also never seen anyone make the distinction until I started posting on SDN 4 years ago. The fact is I can think of a few schools which have solid research programs in areas of my personal interest (which is more important to me than the NIH funded designation) which I'd gladly attend over schools that are sponsered by the NIH. In other words, NIH funding is no guarentee of "quality" only money for the duration of your training IMHO, and I'm certain PD's can see through the fluff of acronyms.
     
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  15. gbwillner

    gbwillner Pastafarian
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    What does this mean? Just curious. Many of us that went to MSTP schools had to move to get where we are. Are you married and settled down?

    I completely agree that if you are interested in something that is not a traditional track and NOT associated with MSTP, then you are better off attending a non-MSTP school. I can't really think of any such thing off the top of my head, but I'm sure there are many such fields.
    I think the point of this thread has become "what if any advantages are there to MSTP over non-MSTP"? I think the real advantage is that MSTP programs are in heavily academic environments with a good reputation for academic research. How many of the top 20 medical schools have MSTP programs? I would venture to guess that if a residency program sees that you are MSTP, they know you have research training from a quality insitution. Let's face it- there is little/no regulation in maintaining quality among PhD programs like there is in medicine (there are no PhD boards or any standardized tests). Is your residency program going to be impressed with you just because you have a PhD? Or are they going to be impressed because you have a PhD from a highly reputable institution/program with a highly reputable/famous PI? Many of the directors of the top institutions know each other well, and if you are familiar with your own directors this may take you places you may not normally be able to go.

    As an example of the above, I will cite personal experience. I am defending my thesis March 8th (2 weeks!), and I'm trying to set up an away elective at a VERY competitive institution that is by many considered the top program in the country for Pathology. I emailed the director of the program, and told them a little (very little) about myself but mentioned my institution. They asked me why I wanted to do an away elective since there are so many good opportunities where I am. I responded that I did not want to stay in this particular institution after medical school, and for the moment the school I was contacting was my top choice. They then instructed me how to set up the elective and that they would help. But they also asked me to say "hi" to my mentor, as they are long-time friends.
    Now this could happen to people at non-MSTP schools as well, but my point is that this is more likely to happen at MSTP schools, where there seems to be a self-fulfilling prophecy of nepotism.
     
  16. greg12345

    greg12345 New Member
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    I think name recognition of your institution does matter somewhat (unfortunately or not) when you are applying for residency, and the best medical schools typically have the best research (at least measured objectively by NIH dollars) and typically have MSTP status (a gross generalization to be sure, but for the most part accurate)...so if you like 2 programs equally and one is MSTP and one is not, I say go for the MSTP one (duh). I still think the quality of your individual PhD is paramount though, way way way more important than whatever department at whatever institution you got it from. I'd rather come out of a podunk department at a podunk school with three first author Cell papers than publish only one review from harvard's biology dept or whatever. Obviously if you can be productive at a top department at a top medical school with a well recognized PI, obviously that is ideal scenario.
     
  17. greg12345

    greg12345 New Member
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    Oh yeah, good luck on your thesis man.
     
  18. gbwillner

    gbwillner Pastafarian
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    Thanks. I should be preparing rather than trolling around this forum! I just handed out my theses to my committee members today- what a relief. Unfortunately, I'm still working on 2 papers (one is a resubmission), so I will have plenty of bench-work to do before I return.
     
  19. Vader

    Vader Dark Lord of the Sith
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    We sound like twins. I will be defending a bit later in March.

    Good luck on your defense--must be quite a relief to just get the thesis off your shoulders for now!
     
  20. gbwillner

    gbwillner Pastafarian
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    Thanks. you too, oh dark Lord of the Sith.
     
  21. 1Path

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    Definitely and I'm simply not willing to up root my family JUST so I can do an MSTP MD/PhD program. But personally I feel that as an NIH alum where I took advantage of the opportunity to meet and network with leaders in pathology, I've already been to the peak of the research world. MD training from Harvard to Howard doesn't differ by much, so school reps are of no real interest to me as much as my continuing to do solid work. Now I'm all about the quality of my training in my areas of interest which is quite solid at my current school, maintaining a good relationship with my PI, and publishing. Having said that, I do plan to do away electives/rotations at "named" places in my research area when the time comes.

    I can understand why people feel school reps are THE most important aspect of a candidate for residency, but from what I've seen, productivity and an ability to get along with your peers are VERY important too especially at academically oriented programs. So in the end, I think it's more of the networking you've done and what you're bringing to the table besides the rep of your school much more so than the school you attend.

    Good luck defending!
     
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  22. jjmack

    jjmack Senior Member
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    I'm just curious what school has the best path department?
     
  23. 1Path

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    You'll probably get feathered and tarred if you ask this question in the path forum!:laugh:
     
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  24. gbwillner

    gbwillner Pastafarian
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    According to inside sources, the best CP Path programs are (not necessarily in any particular order)****:

    MGH
    PENN
    John's Hopkins
    WASH U
    University of Washington
    U. Pittsburgh (molecular path)

    **** I take NO responsibility for the accuracy of this list, and cannot claim it is based on anything more than speculation.
     
  25. AtreyuRocks

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    MSTP of course gives the program some clout because it is funded by NIH (determined by the stellar grant writing of the director)... but how things are actually run in the program could be a different story. Also, non-MSTP MD/PhD programs may be just as good, better, or worse depending on how the program is run. The government can only give out so much money to fund such expensive and long programs. Especially right now, when there are so many NIH cutbacks, it would be more difficult for newer less established institutions (ie: not ivy league) to get funding no matter how great they are. (I'm also guessing it's much easier to rewrite your grant to KEEP the MSTP funding as opposed to going up against the big guys and asking for funding.) It is generally viewed that the MSTP programs are probably better being that they are more established, but that may have NO bearing on the type of individual that comes out of the program. Also, it is SO hard to compare the non-MSTP MD/PhD programs, because there is a huge amount of variation among them regarding integration of medicine and science, curriculum, direction of research, and funding for its students. Lastly, many programs are fully-funded nearly equivalent to the MSTP annual stipend-- so no, not all non-MSTP MD/PhD will go hungry.
     

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