Non-standard MD/PhD applicant

Discussion in 'Physician Scientists' started by alacast, Dec 11, 2008.

  1. alacast

    2+ Year Member

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    Hi everyone! I just found this forum a few days ago, and after seeing all the knowledge from the people who frequent here I thought I'd post my situation to see what everyone thought about it.

    I have a strong, though slightly oddball history and CV, and I'm wondering if it should alter my application strategy because of it. This isn't just a "What are my odds?" question. So here we go:

    Education
    Indiana University 2008 (3.97GPA)
    Majors: Biology, Cognitive Science, and History
    Minors: Chemistry, Psychology, Computer Science
    Certificate in the Liberal Arts and Management Program

    Indiana University MBA Program 2010
    Major: Entrepreneurship and maybe Decision Sciences

    Research
    -Rat behavior sophomore through senior year. Produced an undergraduate thesis and a journal article in Behavioral Brain Research (first author).
    -Computational neuroscience senior year through present. With a Big Name researcher in the field. Looks like we'll put out a paper next semester, but I doubt I'll be first author.

    Other
    Started and led a cognitive science club at IU
    Helped teach a freshman cognitive science class my senior year
    Studied abroad in Australia (at ANU) for a semester
    All schooling was funded by scholarships. Research was funded by undergrad research grants.


    So...
    If you read all that, I think you can see my concerns. From what I gather, the vast majority of MSTP students have an academic and research background very focused on medically relevant topics, wish to do research on cancer, heart disease, infectious diseases, etc., and don't have an MBA. I have a diverse background, want to research brain-machine interfaces, and will have an MBA. :) I'm a strong student, but my concern is that I'm going to have to answer "Why the heck are you here?" a lot, enough to give me problems in admissions. I have a response to that question, but I may not be seeing the big picture.

    So all you folks that have a better feel for the MSTP system than I! Will top tier MSTP schools look at my application, say "He's crazy," and throw it in the trash? Is my diversity an asset or a hindrance? Should I be considering any factors that a typical applicant should not during applications next year and the run up to them?

    Thank you all very much!
    Jeff
     
  2. Neuronix

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

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    I don't see a problem. Diversity is a good thing. You have a high GPA and plenty of research experience so your bases are covered. With a high MCAT (36+) I predict top tier.
     
  3. tiamat360

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    I have a lot of research, but only one year of medically-related research by the time I matriculate. I guess we'll have to wait and see what happens w.r.t. acceptances, but it hasn't hurt me so far getting to the interview stage.

    You've got a first-author publication, with another pub in the works, and an awesome GPA. Assuming a good MCAT score, PS, and letters, I think you're fine :p.
     
  4. URHere

    Physician PhD 10+ Year Member

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    I seriously doubt that you will have problems because your research background isn't directly clinical. When I applied, my research experiences were across the board: language-learning research with toddlers, nitric oxide research and behavior in mice, neonatal stress research, sleep research, and computational research. If anything, I found interviewers to be MORE interested in my more unusual projects than they were in ones that they understood more about.

    As for the MBA - if you have the GPA and the MCAT score, there is really no way this should hurt you. It is something outside of the norm, and I would be surprised if your answers to "standard" interview questions weren't more interesting because of it. Don't be paranoid about being different (I came from a theatre background...if schools weren't weirded out by that, I can't see how they could be put off by an MBA).

    The only problem you might have based on what you have listed is on the clinical experience front. Although MD/PhD programs tend to downplay this component, many schools still want applicants to have some clinical experience. If you set something up there, you should be good to go.
     
  5. alacast

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    Thanks, folks! I appreciate your comments.

    I had considered the lack of clinical experience, but I don't think I'll be able to add any in a sensible manner. Maybe next summer (during applications), but that may be too late.

    Now if anyone knows of PIs researching/developing brain machine interfaces, particularly on the west coast, let me know. ;) I want to apply to places where I can research what I'm most interested in, but sifting through vast numbers of faculty to find people in a small and new field is exhausting. :oops:

    Cheers!
     
  6. Vader

    Vader Dark Lord of the Sith
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    Look up folks at Stanford... lots of interest and resources with the Bio-X program.
     
  7. alacast

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    Sifting through there was on my To Do list. Now that I've dug into it, there are actually many folks up my alley. Success!
     
  8. meowkat444

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    Just chiming in--i was a cog sci major and all my research was in vision science/computer vision type stuff, not clinically relevant, and I did teach for america after (not an MBA, but similarly unrelated). Had no major admissions issues. There may be 1 or 2 programs that look at you funny for it but as a person with an unusual background they may end up being places you wouldn't want to be anyway. Good luck and feel free to PM!
     

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