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PhD before medical school?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by AnesthesiaMD, May 12, 2007.

  1. AnesthesiaMD

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    I have been debating whether or not I should just forget about med. school right now to pursue a PhD in Cancer Biology. I used to be interested in anesthesiology but I've shifted focus to radiation oncology after a personal experience (family member requiring the svcs. of a radiation oncologist). My GPA will be 3.50 and 3.43 BCPM by the time I apply to medical school if I apply after college. Obviously there will be little hope for getting into an MD/PhD program for me and I really want to get the PhD. Would it just be a waste of my time? Thanks.
     
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  3. spicedmanna

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    Check this:

     
  4. AnesthesiaMD

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    Wow. Well, I guess it is a good thing I didn't start applying to graduate programs. Thanks a lot!
     
  5. Scottish Chap

    Physician PhD Moderator Emeritus 15+ Year Member

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    If you really want to be a clinician, DO NOT do a Ph.D. It's a very long and painful process that should only be attempted if you want to be a laboratory scientist. It's definitely not the best use of your time as a stepping stone to medical school either. I did a Ph.D. before medical school, but I had no intention of applying to medical school initially. Check out the non-traditional forum; several medical students and physicians on there did a Ph.D. before medical school.

    Your GPA is not bad at all, and it might not hurt you that much if you do alright on the MCAT, if you apply to several schools, and if you present a compelling application.

    Good luck!
     
  6. AnesthesiaMD

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    How many schools would you consider applying to for just the MD? I have a list of 22 so far that I wouldn't mind going to including a few schools that are top tier and probably won't happen for me (Hopkins, Duke), but then again, you never really know.
     
  7. spicedmanna

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    Well, I don't think there is an "ideal" amount, per se. I think the average is around 10-15 schools. If you have the financial resources, however, I don't think applying to more schools than average would hurt at all. In general, apply broadly and early.
     
  8. Scottish Chap

    Physician PhD Moderator Emeritus 15+ Year Member

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    It really depends on the average GPA and MCAT in-hand when you'll be applying. For allopathic schools, the national mean is a little more than 3.6 and 30, respectively. Pick up a copy of MSAR and apply to around 12-15 schools where your numbers fall within the competitive range. Make sure you apply to all of your state schools, and then add in a couple of 'reach' schools. My reach school admitted me right away me while my so-called 'safe' school in Maryland didn't interview me, so it really is tough to circumvent the inevitable arbitrary component of medical school admissions. Sometimes you have something in your application that interests the admissions committee and you are the first to present it that year......
     
  9. HreComesTheSun

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    another PhD to MD here, and I agree with the above posters. as Q of Q stated, you can do your PhD after MD, or even switch over to MD/PhD while you're still in school. in addition to the fact that you would save on tuition, you will also save time. the PhD part of the MD/PhD tends to be more lax (you won't have as many paper requirements, etc) than just straight PhD, unless you get unlucky with your PI of course...so you will get the research training that you're interested in without putting in so much time.
     
  10. QofQuimica

    QofQuimica Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting....
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    Bwah haha hah, I was going to reply to this thread until I saw that I already had. :smuggrin:

    OP, definitely do not go for the straight PhD if you want to be a radiation oncologist. What are your MCAT scores like? I would recommend that you apply to a mix of MD/PhD and MD-only programs if you have a strong MCAT. Your GPA is average or maybe a little below average for MD-only programs, but it isn't so terrible that it will automatically disqualify you from schools that screen. And going MD-only won't prevent you from getting a PhD if you want to later. As I said previously, it's a lot easier to get into grad school as a med student than it is to go the other way around. If you get the MD acceptance, you can always take time off during med school to do your MS or PhD, or you can do research after your MD (either get a PhD or do a research fellowship). :luck: to you. :)
     
  11. AnesthesiaMD

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    Well I am a licensed pilot ;) (single engine aircraft of course, nothing huge)...
     
  12. AnesthesiaMD

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    I have not yet taken the MCAT but my practice tests have gone something like this...Kaplan Diagnostic: 20 other full lengths: 23, 27, 30, 33, 34, 34, 34. Will be taking MCAT August 20. My GPA is so shi**y because I messed up a semester in my sophomore year and ever since I have averaged a 3.77 (103 credits) and 3.71 BCPM (75 credits), so I'm hoping that upward trend will look good ;)
     
  13. Scottish Chap

    Physician PhD Moderator Emeritus 15+ Year Member

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    There you go. Something that makes you stand out! See.....no Ph.D. program for you. Hang in there, study hard, destroy the MCAT, then post on SDN to encourage others after you receive your acceptance letter(s).
     
  14. QofQuimica

    QofQuimica Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting....
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    My understanding is that upward trends are taken into consideration; if you're going to have a bad semester or two, it's better to do it as a freshman than as a senior. Your practice scores look promising; I think if I were you, I would apply to some MD/PhD programs too. You can apply to a few of the dream schools, but don't go crazy with them. Aim to mostly pick solid MD/PhD programs and some research-oriented MD programs. And definitely apply to your state schools. The other thing to consider is that a lot of people want to live on the coasts, and some of the schools in popular cities like Boston or D.C. get many thousands of apps even though they aren't top research institutions. In my experience, there are many excellent research-intensive schools here in the South and in the Midwest where the odds are better. I'd recommend checking some of them out. But definitely don't apply anywhere you wouldn't be willing to go if accepted. And watch those residency requirements; even some private schools give preference to in-state residents and regional residents.

    Are you applying this summer? If you are, you know you're taking the MCAT really late, right? You should get all of your AMCAS stuff submitted ahead of time so that you'll be complete as soon as your scores come out. :luck: to you. :)
     
  15. AnesthesiaMD

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    Nah. I'm applying for the 2009 class ;). And it WILL be submitted June 1, 2008!
     
  16. AnesthesiaMD

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    I'm assuming this means to apply to a lot of schools with "magic number" stats approximating my own. Anyway, can any people with experience tell me how this set of schools looks to them? I'm a Michigan resident with a 68.0 "magic #" (MCAT not taken, i've been pulling 34s on my latest practice exams), GPA = 3.50 (after senior year which is when I'm applying) with a projected MCAT of 33.

    1. Wayne State
    2. University of Michigan (a stretch, I know)
    3. Michigan State University (MD)
    4. Rosalind Franklin
    5. The George Washington University
    6. Georgetown
    7. Loyola
    8. Tulane
    9. Hopkins (dream school)
    10. Boston University
    11. St. Louis University
    12. Albany Medical College
    13. New York Medical College
    14. University of Cincinnati
    15. Drexel
    16. Jefferson
    17. Temple
    18. All branches of the University of Texas (no secondary fees)
    19. University of Vermont
    20. Eastern Virginia Medical School
    21. Virginia Commonwealth U.
    22. University of Washington
    23. Marshall
    24. Medical College of Wisconsin
     
  17. Shadowboricua

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    #16 Shadowboricua, May 13, 2007
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2010
  18. HreComesTheSun

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    i'm just gonna tell myself this is the reason i didn't get into harvard :laugh:
     
  19. nanomed

    nanomed That's Doctor Doctor 2 Be
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    Question for Shadowboricua. I take it that your Boricua (PhD-->MD), well so am I.:thumbup: As with you, I will also be starting this fall.:D So where did you go to grad school (what area?) and which med school will you be attending?

    Cheers,
    Nanomed
     
  20. nanomed

    nanomed That's Doctor Doctor 2 Be
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    Question for everyone...does anyone here have regrets about obtaining their PhD at all/in general :confused: ???
     
  21. QofQuimica

    QofQuimica Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting....
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    Personally, I regret having been born. Compared to that doozie, all the other mistakes I've made throughout my life have been relatively minor. :smuggrin:

    Ok, so joking aside, no, I don't regret having gotten a PhD. I wish I had done a combined program though.
     
  22. crazy_cavalier

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    Unff, another premed with "MD" in their user name :rolleyes:
     
  23. AnesthesiaMD

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    so what, it's a user name, I don't claim to be a doctor. Give me a break man. But since we're nitpicking, the correct statement would be: "Unff, another premed with "MD" in his username." ;)
     
  24. Gut Shot

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    I wish I hadn't gotten a PhD before med school. Sure, I like the three letters after my name, and I definitely grew and learned a lot from going through "the process." That said, I doubt it was worth the almost six years of poverty and soul rot. With the benefit of hindsight, I should have worked for a couple of years after college and just gone for my MD.
     
  25. nanomed

    nanomed That's Doctor Doctor 2 Be
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    Wow, ~6 years is quite a while. I am sorry that you had to endure all of that. What was you major, out of curiosity (biology, engineering, etc.)???

    Personally, not to sound crazy or nothing, but I got done in 3.5 years -- majored in chemistry (~focus was on nanobiotechnology). I really enjoyed my time as a graduate student, where we actually had a stipend and got paid:luck: . However, I really look forward to my future as a med student -- the not getting paid part and borrowing loans unfortunately is the down side :( .
     
  26. Scottish Chap

    Physician PhD Moderator Emeritus 15+ Year Member

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    The average time for finishing a bioscience Ph.D. in the U.S. is 5.5 years. Many take 6 years, some take 7, and some take even longer. Short of a major disaster, my advisor used to say that if it takes you longer than 6 years, there's something wrong with the project, the advisor, or the student. Like yourself, I also finished in 3.5 years, but that's pretty rare in the biosciences. You must know Chad Mirkin.
     
  27. Shadowboricua

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    #26 Shadowboricua, May 13, 2007
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2010
  28. nanomed

    nanomed That's Doctor Doctor 2 Be
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    Chad Mirkin was my thesis advisor. How did you guess/know that:confused:
     
  29. nanomed

    nanomed That's Doctor Doctor 2 Be
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    Got my PhD at Northwestern University (Evanston, IL) and will start at the University of Illinois at Chicago in the fall. Good luck with your waitlist option :thumbup: Either way, you have it set.
    Cheers,
    Nanomed
     
  30. Scottish Chap

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    You posted your major and your location is beside your avatar. I figured you were part of Chad's working group. I saw him present at a conference a few years ago - amazing guy. I think he finished his Ph.D. at MIT in 2 or 3 years, right?
     
  31. Gut Shot

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    I was in biomedical sciences, a combination of molecular biology and microbiology. I started the program with two other guys who were also fresh out of college. We all joined different labs but finished within three months of each other. One guy on my campus finished in 3 years, but virtually everyone else who came straight from undergrad took 5 years or more. This one pair of twins worked in the same lab and took 7 years to escape.

    My undergrad major was chemistry, and many of my classmates did PhDs in chem. They did seem to finish in significantly less time than us poor sods in biomed.
     
  32. nanomed

    nanomed That's Doctor Doctor 2 Be
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    Chad finished in about 3~3.5 years from MIT. He is definitely a great guy. Gave a lot of experimental freedom...and the research area is relatively new with a lot of hype. I guess you can say that is partly why I finished so soon;) .

    So in medicine, where do people like ourselves (PhD-->MD) eventually end up going??? Do most people aim for academic medicine, or try for competitive residencies???
     
  33. nanomed

    nanomed That's Doctor Doctor 2 Be
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    Funny that you mention that, our research group started to accept students in the molecular biology and biochemistry program recently (we used to be exclusive to chemistry, but Prof. Mirkin obtained several new appointments). And we have seen a lot of new students join our group, interestingly enough, there motivation was 1/3 to do great new science, but 2/3 to get done in less than 5~6 years (which is the average at our school).

    Well I am sure that you were able to get lots of interesting things done in your time. I wonder if you are still pursing research on the side??
     
  34. Janny

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    My 2 cents: I have a PhD in organic synthesis and will begin med school in the fall. I was really on the fence before grad school of how best to accomplish my career goals. I decided after about yr 2 that I really did need an MD, you know research alone not enough to keep me going. Anyway, yrs 3 and 4 gave me a chance to not only do some good science but also beef up my MD app. I volunteered at a hospital and actually received an award for my service. I do not feel that I wasted my time whatsoever. There are many paths to medicine, and if you need time to be sure or make yourself a more competitive applicant then go for it. Do not however make the mistake of thinking that 4-5 yrs of graduate school will fly by. If you do pursue a PhD you will find that it is one of the most difficult and at times, hopeless, things you have ever done. On the upside, your training as a scientist will put you ahead of your straight MD counterparts should you choose to make research a part of your professional career.:luck:
     
  35. Scottish Chap

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    The vast majority of my friends and colleagues who did a Ph.D. then an M.D. actually ended up matching into pathology - at top institutions. I think the reasons are two-fold: path really is the best specialty to use your M.D. training and still conduct competitive research. This can be done if you are managing patients in other specialties, but it's folds harder and either your research or your clinical skills inevitably suffer. I actually completed a board-certifiable fellowship in laboratory medicine before medical school and I can tell you first-hand that it is tough when your pager keeps going off and you have a mouse's chest open in the lab trying to get some vascular data. In my humble opinion, it takes a special person to truly practice both medicine and competitive research comcomitantly.

    Still, the M.D. will give you the background to match into any specialty. I know two people that went into emergency medicine and they never used their Ph.D. again. I know another that went into family medicine.
     
  36. QofQuimica

    QofQuimica Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting....
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    Awesome. I'm an organic chemist too. :)
     
  37. Gut Shot

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    Interesting enough to get scooped by another lab after I left for med school.

    I am doing a little bit now, although I went cold turkey for about six years. It's much more enjoyable now that my entire professional life isn't riding on it.
     

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