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Opinions on Advantages of "Elite" Med Schools

Discussion in 'General Residency Issues' started by JackofAllTrades, Mar 26, 2007.

  1. JackofAllTrades

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    Hello All,

    I was wondering if you could lend some advice on the importante of your med school's reputation in the match process. Some over on Pre-Allo content individual performance heavily outweighs school rep (to the point of being a non-factor). My decision process is this: Case (scholarship) vs. Harvard. If interested, you can read more about my specific situation here:

    http://forums.studentdoctor.net/showthread.php?t=384123


    However, many 4th years have posted that school rep is very important. I ran across this on the IM forums (a specialty that I am interested in):

    "I ran into this dude on my interview trail from HMS, openly stated that he is below average in his class and got below average Step 1, and still got interviews at everywhere he applies (places like Stanford, UCSF, JHU, HMS hospitals, etc). That just goes about saying how much advantange an elite med school carries you in this process."

    Academics/PP: I have no idea, but I could see myself liking the academic world

    Thanks for reading!
     
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  3. Bertelman

    Bertelman Maverick!

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    I think this has been discussed ad nauseum in several forums, including the Allo. I'll be (not so) brief.

    Individual performance is the MOST IMPORTANT factor determining your success to obtain a residency position. That's not to say name recognition won't get your foot in the door. It can. But I certainly wouldn't choose a school in the hopes that the name alone will compensate for any personal shortcomings.

    Your predicament is understood- state school, less debt v. HMS, unreal debt but likely increased earning potential and opportunities. Here's the rub. People post elite school match lists showing how many went ENT/Plastics?Neurosurg whatever. You could say clearly they were at an advantage based on the name recognition. You could equally say the more accomplished students were pre-selected to attend those schools, and could have had the same opportunities no matter which school they attended. Some even say those schools produce an inordinate amount of high-paying specialists b/c their students recognize the debt load and adjust their expectations accordingly.

    Blah Blah Blah. Here's what it comes down to: You care about the name or you don't. I'm not even going to argue about which school would provide the better education. I will say that we have probably all met doctors who attended a standard med school and are amazing physicians. We have also met doctors who attended elite schools, and we wonder what went wrong.

    In 20 years, will you say, "I wonder what would have happened if I had attended Harvard", or will you say, "I wonder what would have happened if I had taken that scholarship and reduced my debt load by 1/4." If Harvard means that much to you, do it. No amount of advice on this board will change your mind. It will only lead to later regrets. However, I sincerely doubt your attendance to Harvard will make a significant impact on your eventual career choice if you did not already possess the motivations to pursue that dream. If it's in you, it's in you.
     
  4. JackofAllTrades

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    Thanks for your comments. I went to a public HS, public undergrad (albeit a good one-UNC), and never felt like I was missing out on anything. I LOVED my time there and wouldn't trade it for anything. I feel like I "need" to go to HMS like I need another whole in my head. I kind of applied there as a "what the hell." However, now it seems like the opportunity of a lifetime.

    I think I could be happy at either place. I have a better "gut feeling" of happiness at Case...I don't know why. That's not to say I don't think I'll be happy at HMS at all. I just feel like ther would be less pressure to get a return on my investment at Case. Thanks for your advice.
     
  5. footcramp

    footcramp Senior Member

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    Isn't Case Western in OHIO? Why in the world would anyone want to live in OHIO vs go to Harvard? Come on, OHIO SUCKS. There is nothing good about Ohio. Personally if someone was trying to make me live in Ohio for 4 years, I'd pay a $200,000 "ransom" instead.

    You're smart enough to get into Harvard, so why stop using your brain now? It's the only logical decision.

    Harvard.
     
  6. NinerNiner999

    NinerNiner999 Senior Member

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    I think this also depends on how much of a scholarship you are given, and for how many years it is guaranteed. If we're talking about a $40,000 gift, go to Harvard - the difference in options is worth well over $40k. If Case is offering you a full ride scholarship for four years, then going there should be a no-brainer. Besides - if you are a good student, you will get a residency wherever you want, and recruiters for your real job will be more focused on where you trained during residency, not where you earned your degree. $250,000 of debt from Harvard will be a minimum of $2000 per month to repay, but no debt leaves you free forever...
     
  7. JackofAllTrades

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    The scholarship is tuition for 4 years.
     
  8. jennyboo

    jennyboo Senior Member

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    When I was 21, the answer was "Harvard," for all the reasons that other people have stated.

    I'm now 27, married, working 80 hours a week, and struggling to pay my bills. My answer now is that you will pick what seems best to you, and in the end it won't really matter. Over the next few years of your life, you might meet the love of your life, or spend time with someone in your life for the very last time, or have children (unbelievably, people do this), or meet some of your best-ever friends in medical school.

    If you had gone to "the other medical school," maybe some of these things wouldn't happen in the same way. But when you look back, you will probably be very happy that you didn't miss out on meeting your best friends or the love of your life just because you decided to go to the more prestigious school, or just because you decided to save a wad of cash.

    For most people, the younger you are, the better Harvard will seem. The older you become, the more appealing Case will be. I think it's foolish for anyone other than you to take sides on this. They're both good. In the end, it's the intangibles that will be what really matters to you. Take your pick.
     
  9. NinerNiner999

    NinerNiner999 Senior Member

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    Forget that. Go to Case and take the free ride. That is the best insurance policy you will ever have. It will be a luxury for you to have career freedom for the rest of your life. If you decide medicine is not for you after two years of medical school - leave it. Your classmates will feel the pressure of thousands of dollars of debt for every year they train. Suppose you make it to residency and it doesn't work out? You can leave then without worry. Finally, suppose medicine becomes socialized or not what you were expecting? You can start another career without worrying about your $2000 per month payment. IMHO - this decision will give you more long-term freedom than ever going to Harvard. BTW - if you really want to go to Harvard, jump on a research project or do an away rotation there when you are in medical school. This may set you up for residency there in the future, where they will pay you.

    PS - I just ran this by two of my attendings, both of whom shouted Case without a hesitation when I told them about your scholarship. This is "a no brainer" as my attending says.
     
  10. Adam_K

    Adam_K Indentured

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    NinerNiner999 is right on the money. Take the full ride from Case, forget about Harvard.

    I'll give you another reason why. Say you become enamored with a low paying specialty (public health, pediatrics, family practice) or basic science/academic medicine during medical school. By not having 200k worth of debt, you'll be able to choose the specialty you want without having to worry about your net worth.

    Physicians often choose their specialty partially for financial reasons and end up regretting it later in life.
     
  11. 8744

    8744 Guest

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    Speak for yourself. I went into the specialty that would enable me to utilize my abilities to actualize my potential to facilitate serving and helping underserved and indigent people when s/he can't get access to any other medical care.
     
  12. Adam_K

    Adam_K Indentured

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    I don't think that either of us exemplifies this. For the record, I choose psychiatry for similar reasons. On top of that, I went off-shore for medical school after leaving a successful corporate career.

    My point was that plenty do not follow their heart for financial reasons. How would you explain the number of physicians that switch specialties late in their careers (as an example, I know that psych is packed full of these folks)?
     
  13. mh82ai3

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    not to throw a monkey wrench in there but i'm currently an msIII at case and I've got to say they've revamped the curriculum a lot and many people don't like the changes that have been made. the new curriculum is very disorganized and the dean who started it bailed for stanford so it's uncertain how these changes are going to actually develop. faculty are unhappy that lecture time has been cut down significantly and a thesis requirement has been added.

    but don't let this lead you away from case. there's still a lot of research going on if you want to get involved and the teaching is still pretty good. just know that you're signing up for an unfinished and untested curriculum which may or may not work.

    anyway, good luck with you decision.
     
  14. NinerNiner999

    NinerNiner999 Senior Member

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    Any curriculum in medical school will work, as long as the student is motivated on his/her own to do the best they can. We all take the same boards, and learn the same material...
     
  15. LADoc00

    LADoc00 There is no substitute for victory.

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    Im constantly try to throw out my big name schools to people..it has no effect..maybe its my style.
     
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  17. Bertelman

    Bertelman Maverick!

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    Uhhh... :thumbup: uhhhh....:thumbdown: :confused: :eek:
     
  18. jennyboo

    jennyboo Senior Member

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    This was the case at my medical school as well. However, when I went on the interview trail for residency, I discovered that pretty much every student I talked to -- from the most elite medical schools in the country to the very average -- felt exactly the same way about theirs. Every medical school has something changing, for better or for worse -- the curriculum will swing back and forth as they fiddle with it, people who started certain things will leave, and so on. Most medical students are disgruntled about something in their school.

    It's not uncommon to feel that your medical school dropped the ball in one way or another, and that will be the case whether you're at Harvard or at Case.
     
  19. sunlioness

    sunlioness Fierce. Proud. Strong
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    Case is an amazing school with an excellent reputation of its own. It's not like you're choosing between Harvard and some claptrap set-up out on the interstate somewhere. If you like Case, go to Case. Not having mega-loans is HUGE and Harvard is overrated anyway. :)
     
  20. sunlioness

    sunlioness Fierce. Proud. Strong
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    Charming. Another reason to go to Case is that if you go to Harvard you will be surrounded by people like this guy.
     
  21. sunlioness

    sunlioness Fierce. Proud. Strong
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    I have a big name undergrad and a well-respected med school. They both got me where I need to be. And don't worry about it . . . the people who have shown me more respect for being an Ivy League grad were more likely to be jerks anyway. But then again I went to Brown and I think of the Ivies, we're probably the least likely to get off on all that name dropping stuff.
     
  22. goongirl

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    I advocate you go where you feel most comfortable...but just so you know, I do know someone in my class (I'm an M1 @ Case) who turned down harvard. No idea if money was involved or not, but social atmosphere was a factor.
     
  23. lowbudget

    lowbudget Senior Member

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    Either way, you'll end up reading First Aid for Step 1 anyways...
     
  24. yaah

    yaah Boring
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    I think one interesting way to learn about this would be to ask two groups of people

    1) Premeds
    2) People nearing the end of their residency and beyond.

    I would wager that most of the people who say "Harvard" are in the former category, and most of the people who say either Case or "do what you feel is right" are in the latter. I am in the latter category, I went to a state school and have no debt. I matched at my first choice residency and am learning a ton and setting myself up well. Once you get to residency, nobody cares where you went to med school. As for whether being at harvard will get you a better residency, that is highly debatable and open to interpretation, not to mention that what "better residency" actually means is different for everyone.

    If you are a strong student and get good letters of rec, it won't matter much where you went to med school (provided it's still a good school, which it is). As I and many others have posted, the name of your med school is far down the list on factors you will be ranked on and if you are worrying about that and thinking it will be the difference maker, you're already in trouble. If you have your heart set on a "harvard" residency, then that might change things, but otherwise it won't be a huge factor.

    One important factor to remember: Premeds are full of ****, in general. ;)
     
  25. PCOM_Rocks

    PCOM_Rocks Member

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    I generally agree with the people who say going to Harvard won't make much of a difference vs Case. It's true that residency is when you're truly taught how to be a doctor. Harvard probably has a slightly better match list on most years than Case. Also having lesss debt will be much more appreciated when repayment time comes.

    However, there are a few advantages to having that IVY league degree. If you think beyond yourself and about your children, going to Harvard will give your children an edge when they are appyling to Harvard for college. These private IVY league schools get a lot of alumni support to boost their endowment and love to make their alumni happy.

    Also if you plan on running a boutique practice catering to the well-to-do, these patients (client) love telling people their doctor is from Harvard. I'm talking to the plastic surgeons and Hollywood psychiatrist.
     
  26. jennyboo

    jennyboo Senior Member

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    Ha. Those of us who actually got in no alumni or VIP parents to speak of (which is, believe it or not, probably the majority) would probably say this is a pretty absurd reason to go to Harvard for medical school. (The med school is its own entity, and you can be sure the big donors you're talking about are alumni of the college, not the med school, anyway. And the majority of graduates will never make enough money to become significant donors. So if that's your strategy, you're out of luck.)

    Harvard isn't all that -- but people who've obviously never been there think it is.
     
  27. footcramp

    footcramp Senior Member

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    The thing about living in Ohio is that the whole state and midwest region is quickly going down the tubes. When you see decay everywhere around you, it's not a good feeling. Case might be a good school but only programs in the midwest will think it's decent. I think coast programs only care about each other. For competitive residencies you will have to bring something extra special to the table to compete with the local applicants in California or New York. Why would they take someone from Case, a random program in the midwest, when they could take a similar applicant from Stanford, UCSF, UCLA, UCSD, Cornell, Columbia, NYU, etc? It's not ALL about you. Coming from the right program helps a lot.

    I don't necessarily think Harvard is that great, but I do think living in the midwest has a lot of drawbacks. At least Harvard is in a vibrant town with lots of smart, motivated individuals. There is certainly more than the medical school in Boston. Can you really say that about Cleveland, or Ohio in general? I don't think so.
     
  28. yaah

    yaah Boring
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    You have to have something special to bring to the table anyway for competitive residencies. Where you went to med school does not make you special, unless the residency program is AT your medical school. People who go to highpower med schools tend to be better applicants for residency, but that isn't because of the school, it's mostly because they are good students and candidates on their own merit.

    As far as "only programs in the midwest will think it's decent" that is complete crap. Med schools and residencies have people from all over the country. While it is true that there is some sort of regional bias inherent in every such endeavor, it does not lock out those from outside. I would wager that everyone at "high power" med schools knows someone who they work with directly who trained somewhere else, outside the region. Why would a california program take someone from NY over someone from Ohio (or at least give them more consideration) just because they are from a big city or a more famous med school? They wouldn't. It makes no sense. Perhaps if they were from california.

    As far as the midwest "going down the tubes" while the rest of the country isn't, open your eyes. The northeast and california and quickly becoming so expensive that people with average income are fleeing because they can't live there. Is that vibrant?
     
  29. JackofAllTrades

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    I don't care about living in Boston, NY, or California. Actually, I would prefer not to. Heresy to some, but I'm a midwest/southern girl. I just want the best possible to opportunity to do whatever I choose.
     
  30. sequela

    sequela Junior Member

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    well then, case it is. great school, free ride...spells "best possible opportunity" to me.

    i will second the majority of these posts by saying that if you are driven, self-motivated and hard-working (which you clearly are given the opportunites you have been granted thus far), then you will accomplish whatever goals you have has a medical student.

    yes, if you look at the matchlists, harvard does very well. but, so do many many other schools...every school posted on the 2007 matchlist thread has at least a handful of students going into competitive specialites and/or to top residencies in their field.

    what i think harvard can do for you is perhaps make it a bit more likely to get a residency at "top institutions" such as harvard, stanford, ucsf etc...basically, these places in ca, nyc etc. some may disagree but hell, look at their matchlists. i don't care if it's the student or the school or a little of both, the pattern is clear as day.

    now, while not all top institutions are in ca or ny or ma, there is a good majority there and so you see this bicostal pattern.


    given that you do not desire to live in these locations and may not desire to do residency (or practice) in these locations, why not go w case which has a great reputation, is located where you'd rather be and is for freakin' free?

    congrats and good luck.
     
  31. Reaganite

    Reaganite Member

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    I would take the full-ride to Case. There is nothing like being debt-free out of medical school. I faced a similar choice in college and medical school, and in both cases I went with the money over school name...and I couldn't be happier. I'm actually planning on buying a new 2008 corvette as a resident :) The education is going to be the same wherever you go. As I said, I ended up at a "lower-tier" school, but I still managed to score higher than 99% of Ivy Leaguers on the national boards, and matched in the specialty I wanted at the place that I wanted. If you're smart enough to get into Harvard and be offered a full-ride at Case, you'll probably excel at any medical school you attend, and have a great chance at matching in your field of choice. Besides, Case is a great school. The only scenario I can think of where I might recommend going to harvard is if your scholarship is based on something other than academics. I'm certainly not questioning your intelligence (I don't know anything about you), but if being a URM, economically disadvantaged student, etc. played a role in the scholarship/Harvard acceptance, then I don't think it's so clear cut. But if you're an academic superstar, I think it's a no-brainer.
     
  32. pankun

    pankun Pankun

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    I am a MSIV. I think Case is a better option. You will do well academically at either place and you will most likely get into the same elite residency program if you get a good step 1 score and good letters. I went to a state school and I will be debt free when I graduate. It's a good feeling to be debt free. I'll be going to an ivy residency program. However, an average med student will definitely benefit from going to a school with a big name. You need to ask yourself some simple questions. Are you an academic super star? Are you a good standardized test taker? Or are you a well rounded person with so-so academic record? The academic super star should probably take advantage of the scholarship and go to Case and the well rounded person with so-so academic record can definately use the Harvard name.
     
  33. yaah

    yaah Boring
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    See, but points like that border on irrelevant - there are very few average med students at harvard. So to say the comparison would be valid and hold true for average med students is silly.

    Someone with a so-so academic record could get into harvard med, but they will likely have other things on their application that make them a great candidate, and those things will help them succeed as well. And they would not, therefore, be a so-so or average candidate. Harvard has the advantage of getting so many applications that they can be really choosy, and they aren't going to get too many average applicants.
     
  34. Reaganite

    Reaganite Member

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    I agree and disagree :) I do think that factors other than academic ability play a role in getting into the Ivy league med schools. The "smartest" people do not always get in. When I applied to medical school, the average MCAT at harvard wasn't even in the top-10 nationwide, so clearly the school is looking for more than just good scores. Matching into a competitive residency, though, is much more numbers-based. Disadvantaged status, URM, extracurriculars--additional things that make you an "above average" candidate for medical school--just aren't as important. Being well-rounded with average MCAT scores is okay for Harvard medical school, but a well-rounded med student with average board scores is unlikely to match in Derm, Plastics, Rad Onc, Ortho, or ENT.
     
  35. yaah

    yaah Boring
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    Not really - you're equating "average" MCAT scores with good scores, and equating really good board scores with "average." Board scores are far from everything in residency applications.

    Other factors are also important for residency. Board scores are important, yes, just like MCATs are important for med school. Perhaps really high board scores distinguish a candidate more than really good MCAT scores do, but we're also looking at smaller fields of candidates, whereas lots of people have high MCAT scores.

    Anyway, I have had enough of this topic, obviously everyone should pick the med school they are comfortable at, and realize that they can succeed from wherever they come from if they have the talent and work hard. Anyone who is going to a med school predominantly out of reputation is bound to be disappointed.
     
  36. jennyboo

    jennyboo Senior Member

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    JackOfAllTrades -- I went back and read your post on the pre-med forum, where you said that your parents are able to pay for Harvard and happy to do so. I think I might relate a little to where you're coming from on that. Like yours, my parents are not "rich" and they worked, were frugal, and put away a lot more money than the average American (mine were immigrants, and immigrants do this). Because of that, they were able to pay for my college and my medical school 100%.

    I have several siblings, so for me personally, they had saved up a "nest egg" of sorts, let's say around $200,000 -- about the cost of medical school. So let's say they have around that amount for you, $200,000, in the bank. That is your nest egg. It makes them happy to give it to you. They want to pay your Harvard tuition. If you, say, get married, the next thing you will find out is that your parents also want to not only pay for your wedding, but they would be very happy to buy you a house. It's their gift to you.

    I come from an area of the country with a very high-priced housing market, where $200,000 would be like a down payment on a house. In your area, maybe it would buy you an entire house and more. Either way, you have a choice between using your "nest egg" now to pay for medical school, or not spending the money now and taking it out later. If you spend the money at Harvard now, when you are done, you will, like me, eventually hope to save up enough money to stop throwing away money on rent and invest in buying a property. (I live in Boston. I am, right now, definitely NOT putting any money away at all this year because our rent is way too expensive.)

    My parents are totally happy and relieved they got me through medical school and I'm now out "on my own," so to speak. On the other hand, I've already spent my $200,000 and there is no way I'll be buying a property near my parents in Northern California where the median house prices are hovering around the better part of a million. My parents didn't know this, but they would have been equally happy spending that same $200,000 on a down payment for their daughter's house, as they were happy to spend it on medical school.

    The most meaningful things in your life will probably be the private, personal things. Brand names aren't going to change the quality of your life. If I still had $200,000 left, I would love to invest in a house for me and my husband closer to either of our families. That's one of the little things that makes more difference, I think, than whether you got your MD from Harvard or Case.

    If you don't want to live in Boston now, I'm guessing you won't want to live in Boston four years from now either. But if you do want to do your residency at Harvard or Hopkins or Duke or wherever, you can put yourself on equal footing with their own students by doing a fourth-year away rotation at that institution in your specialty of choice. I see all these people saying Harvard students get an advantage in matching at Harvard. There's a reason why Harvard students match at Harvard -- 1) because they like Boston and want to stay, 2) because the hiring departments have met them before (which you can easily make up for by simply doing the aforementioned away rotation), and 3) because people who really prioritize brand names self-select to brand-name institutions.

    But, I've discovered, being at a brand-name medical school or a brand-name residency doesn't change the quality of your life -- at the end of the day, you still want to go home from work and spend the time in the company of people you enjoy, and not work.
     
  37. Adam_K

    Adam_K Indentured

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    One of the wisest things I've seen posted.
     
  38. worriedwell

    worriedwell Senior Member

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    Well, I'm a second year resident at an Ivy league residency who went to a state school for college and a top 50 for med school and I just want to be a voice of dissent on here to at least think of a few things.

    This conversation would be completely ridiculous (probably) if we were talking about any other school other than Harvard. But we are talking about Harvard.

    Now I turned down Harvard residency (or at least I didn't choose it first even though the residency director called me personally indicating she wanted me there) to go to this other excellent residency for personal reasons (family, location where I'd like to set up practice, etc).

    I'm happy with my choice but it was for residency, which by then I kinda knew I wasn't going to devote my life to big time academics and I also knew that my specialty wasn't competitive to be successful in. And debt was not a factor. And also, I still went to a respected place with great academic resources (which become more specificly relevant as your career choices narrow down and then the actual name of the institution matters less).

    I just think that at such an early stage...unless you really feel confident that you know what you want to do with your life (ie be a small town family practice doctor or something along those lines), then I think it might be a mistake to turn down Harvard. Many of the people who are so confident they would do that are also the people that are looking to settle into their practice and their life and are worried about practical things.

    But Harvard houses A LOT of the thought leaders in medicine. If you have any academic ambition, it puts you in such a unique position to rub shoulders with some of the most important people in science and medicine in the world at the BEGINNING of your professional career. You can't find that anywhere else, even great med schools. And it ABSOLUTELY makes it easier to match at competitive specialties when you work with some of these people. People are way too caught up in the boards and grades, but when you are on the level of these Harvard folks, there are other things that neutralize that, and that are more interesting and important to the real world. And if you decide you want to return small town or midwest america, the Harvard name is gold because most Harvard people never even look into that. If money becomes your primary motivation, you can just go into derm at a "lesser" program and your Harvard name will make a difference, I promise.

    There is nothing that carries more weight in academic society as the Harvard name. It goes everywhere with you forever and is a good investment. Its hard to split hairs about how to compare that with a full ride, but I don't think its a no brainer by any means. The psychological burden of debt when you are young is very real and people stress about it (including me) but if you are ok with living in some debt, or with not buying your first house the day you leave med school, then its really just a psychological thing that won't impact your long term quality of life. If your net worth is what you are worried about, then be an I banker or go into business. You'll be fine in medicine no matter what, but maybe not RICH.

    I think I might choose Harvard, even knowing about the financial burden, especially if your parents are willing to pay tuition (and especially because that can also make them so proud to tell people and it becomes a source of accomplishment for them, and in a lot of cultures/places, people are willing to take the financial hit for this "badge" of success).

    I say that because I feel like I worked my way up the ladder of schools and I had to work hard and seek out the right people in a more limited pond to do that. And I realize that being surrounded by colleagues with ambition fosters inspiration and ambition in me. If that is everywhere, like it is at Harvard, you can't help but be ambitious. Maybe thats a bad thing, but to me it isn't. It could have untoward consequences like becoming arrogant etc, but I think if you are a good person deep down, that won't happen.

    Contributing to society in big ways is a huge success much moreso than having a big name degree and if you are thinking about utilizing your abilities to satisfy the need to make big contributions to society, a place like Harvard gives you access to the most important people to be involved in these types of endeavors.

    But nobody would fault you for going to case and it certainly will ease your financial transition in the early years of your adult life.

    We're all bitter about not making as much money as we could and worry about these things, especially if we are in a ton of debt, and Attending doctors yearn for the days before HMOs when they made tons of money, but you are a young person who got into HARVARD. If its only about the money and otherwise you'd choose Harvard first, I bet you'll always wonder what if.

    This is NOT a no brainer in my opinion.
     
  39. Long Dong

    Long Dong My middle name is Duc.

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  40. tr

    tr inert protoplasm
    Physician PhD Faculty

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    Totally agree.

    1) As noted by sunlioness, Case is a great school on its own merits. I'd be impressed.

    2) Full ride (is it a full ride?) is *huge*. Huge. It will give you freedom of choice in your career, which is priceless and certainly worth more than a Harvard degree. Freedom to choose a low-paying specialty, freedom to leave medicine altogether. Read the "would you do it again?" thread for some insight from other people who were dead-on certain they wanted to be doctors and thought they'd never change their minds.

    3) Location and 'it factor': I personally agree with people on here who would prefer Boston to Ohio. So for me, in this position, I *might* be inclined to go to HMS. It would be a very tough decision. But for you, your 'it factor' is for Case. Also a huge pointer in that direction, then.

    4) Does the reputation of the school matter? I think it does. I am a just-matched student at a name-brand med school (yes it is Ivy League, not that that means much, esp wrt med schools - would you rather go to Dartmouth Med or UCSF Med?) - and I have seen a lot of my classmates match into competitive specialties despite singularly lackluster boards and grades. I am pretty sure it's the school-name effect. So yes, reputation matters. But not enough to counterweight the three points above - especially since the reputational difference between HMS and CWRU is not great.

    5) I do think HMS is overrated. When I interviewed there I was not impressed by the curriculum; and I have a couple of friends who went there and frankly I was shocked at the shallowness of their preclinical knowledge. We dropped out of contact in the later years so I don't know about PGY3 and PGY4, and they did match well (they were smart people to begin with), but it definitely would not be my first choice for med school if I could have my pick all over again.

    (Edit: I just read your other thread. I got the impression from this one that you thought you'd be happier at Case? but your other thread seems to say you think you'd be happier at HMS, and that your family was comfortably enough off to pay for it? In that case I might lean more towards HMS - again, it factor/happiness factor is huge, it's four years of your twenties and it's most important to spend them well.)
     
  41. Entei

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    I'm a fourth year med student who had almost the exact same hard decision to make four years ago. I went with the dark side and chose the big name Ivy over the free ride state school. I absolutely, 100% regret my decision. I liked my med school well enough. I like medicine. I'm happy with my career choice. But my big name med school didn't provide me with anything more than my state school would have. It didn't give me any special advantage to leverage in the Match, either, because many of my co-residents are from average schools. Speaking from my perspective right now, I would much rather have used that $250,000 to buy a house than to help line the pockets of Ivy University.

    Of course, four years ago plenty of people told me to choose the full ride over the fancy name, but I didn't listen. It's hard to believe advice you hear on the internet from random strangers, but I really wish I would have listened. Go with the full ride. No question.
     
  42. Docxter

    Docxter Senior Member

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    I am someone who has been both at Harvard and at a non-Harvard place. I know for a fact that the education that you get at Harvard may not be better than other places (and it isn't), though it's pretty good. And yes, there is a lot of hype surrounding Harvard and its name. But in my experience, the Harvard name opened a lot of doors to me that would have been otherwise harder to open.

    While you should feel good about the medical education you are getting, the unfortunate reality of life is that what others perceive (right or wrong) about your medical education will certainly affect you and your options in the future. While the short term benefit of Case with lower debt is appealing, all things equal, going to Harvard will without question payback much more in the long term.
     
  43. JackofAllTrades

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    First, thanks everyone for your comments. I know you are busy (this is obviously not directed at the 4th years :D) and I trully appreciate it.

    Second, I am freaking lucky to have this decision. I do not have to attend a school I don't like because I don't have the fortunate to have a choice. I am not waiting on an acceptance. I am not working at McDonald's. I am not a 23 yo on drugs. etc. There are A LOT of people in this world and I am one of the luckiest standing on the planet. I should not forget that*** (see below here in a second).

    The comments about the "it" factor are very important to me. Right now, Ohio is more "comfortable" than Boston. This is not to say I would be unhappy in Boston at all. I've just always lived in a midwest/south location.

    As to finances, my parents could comfortably pay for HMS because of working hard and being frugal (drive old cars, live in same small house, haven't taken a vacation in years, etc). So my parents could go off into the sunset of retirment without the HMS tuition money. However, with this frugal background (I have the same feelings about money) the idea of lighting money on fire to go to HMS hits close to home. (Also gets me thinking about why I have these feelings? I think about the fact that I could send my kids to whatever school they want with that money. Am I depriving my parents of this satisfaction?) I can't help but feel selfish for picking HMS.

    The opportunity cost (economics!) and worst case scenario of each choice is different***. If I go to Case, worst case is I will not be able to match into the specialty and location that are my favorites--although this is debatable, even among you guys who are the seasoned vets. Wouldn't want to have that "what would have happened had I gone to HMS" mentality. If I go to HMS, worst case is I want to do primary care in BFE (but my beloved BFE:D), which would be just as easily attainable from Case and I would have wasted $220,000 (the cost difference).

    In the end, going to Harvard does not seem to be a guarantee. What if I go there and suck at school? What if I go there and hate it (thus I will also suck)? Looking at the HMS match list, there are a lot of MGH/JHH/BWH matches, but there are also a *few* matches "lower" on the prestige scale. One, for example, is internal medicine at Tulane. (Not to run down Tulane). Did this person have the opportunity to match at one of the bigger IM names or did they just want to go home? If the latter, fine! More power to him/her.

    And I have come full circle. :oops:
     
  44. pankun

    pankun Pankun

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    Good luck! :)
     
  45. Carbon

    Carbon I saved your life.
    Physician

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    Check yo PMs, jack. :)
     
  46. eastcoastyall

    eastcoastyall Wisdom Onslaught

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    The advantage of the elite medical schools is on the margin. If you are a AOA student at either a good med school or an elite med school, you will end up at the same place. But if you are an average medical student at an elite medical school, you'll end up somewhere fine, whereas at a lower level medical school, you might end up somewhere bad. I think that the elite medical schools protect the mediocre students from dropping too low, but will certainly not get those mediocre students into one of the top programs.
     
  47. Sir William Osler

    Sir William Osler Senior Member

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    do you want to only practice medicine and treat patients? Choose Case.
    do you want to be exposed to the brightest academic community in medicine, and see what kind of journey that will take you on? Go to HMS.

    Look, HMS is a total experience, not just a means to an end. Who cares about what residency, what job, how much money you'll make or have? This only matters if you have butt loads of debt and you WONT by your particular situation. You will be exposed to not only medicine, but also the entire Harvard community which is the most powerful academic place in the world. When u graduate, you'll have options in medicine, public policy, politics, business, and anything that can imagine. None of this means anything if you want to return to the midwest/south and treat patients at an average hospital, right?

    Anyways, everyone at HMS turned down full scholarships at other schools. When u imagine the point at which u graduate from med school, I hope that you're imagining the memories, the friendships, the exposure to amazing intellectual opportunities, and the way the education shapes your future. If you're the type to count pennies, only value life based on the type of car your drive, then dont even consider HMS.

    I highly recommend HMS for the total package experience.

    PM me if you have any additional questions/concerns.
    cheers with your decision.
     
  48. Reimat

    Reimat Friend of talking skulls

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    Lol... this is the stereotypical 'Boston' attitude - that anything outside of New England is less intellectual. I say this being a Bostonian myself - and it's a view I held for many years. It's laughable, because Case is an elite school - certainly on par with any other medical institution in terms of education. At Case, I'm sure you will also be exposed to some of the best and brightest in medicine. The strongest reason I see for picking Harvard over full-scholarship is if you have family in New England, or are determined to become a leading academic physician. I'm not bashing Harvard - I'm just saying it's not that much better than anywhere else.
     
  49. PediBoneDoc

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    i will just chim in here, you may have already made your decision. in true you have to look at you future goals, and what type of person you are.

    i went to case, and my brother in law went to hms. i did ortho @ michigan; he did derm at hms. i am in academics; he is at Kaiser. did the school make a difference? you be the judge.

    i think you have to pick a school that fits your personality and feels comfortable. medical school is meserable enough. being one that interview applicants from all over, school does come into play. but if you are in a school within the top 30, there is not much separation. hms students do not always rock the usmle like some of the bottom 50 schools. a lot tend to rest on a name. hms does not make you a better physician, it provides better access to some things. most of which many probably do not take advantage of. kind of like living in a big city and saying you live there because of the symphony, but you never go (so what's the purpose).

    my recommendation, go where it feels right, do well, and everything will work out in the end.
     
  50. Bertelman

    Bertelman Maverick!

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    What do you expect from such an ambitious username? :rolleyes:
     

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