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PhD from hell

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by loomis, Aug 19, 2002.

  1. loomis

    loomis Lifetime Student
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    Hi all,
    I was wondering if there are any former phd turned MD folks out there. I am in a phd program in psych...going into my 5th year. I got real excited about medicine while working at the neurology clinics for my research and decided to apply to med school after finishing up my phd.

    here's my problem. My advisor just left my school on very bad terms (politics). There is no one else in my dept that does what I do and I've been told that I will have to start my dissertation project OVER AGAIN!!!:mad: I couldn't go with my advisor cause he went to a clinical psych program (which I'm not it) so I would have to start over there too!!!! Bottom line; i'll be put back at least two years if not many more...the thing about the phd is that the light at the end of the tunnel is always getting farther. I am so frustrated that I am thinking of leaving the program...taking the MCAT spring 2003 and applying next year. The job i have on the side sponsers some academic credit and i have my pre-reqs out of the way.

    Will adcoms really crush applicants who leave their respective programs. I got a masters along the way (part of the phd program) but don't know if the comittee will really be turned off by a phd dropout. Any help would be REALLY APPRECIATED. Thanks so much
     
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  3. brettp11

    brettp11 Member
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    Loomis,

    I was in a somewhat similar situation as you are in now: I discovered late in my Ph.D. program that I was more interested in medicine and had to decide whether to gut it out for another 2 years and finish or leave with a 3-year Masters. I ultimately chose to leave with a Masters. I was more interested in practicing medicine and although a Ph.D. would have it's advantages, it was not worth another 2 years of my life. In your case, you must decide what value a Ph.D. and an M.D. would offer as opposed to a Masters/M.D. As for the adcoms, this choice will not negatively affect your admissions chances, and the Masters (assuming you did well) will actually help.

    -Brett
     
  4. none

    none 1K Member
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    I'm sorry, but pretty much EVERYTHING I have ever read regarding medical schools admissions says that you really have to finish your PhD program. In fact, I'm pretty sure many schools won't even consider you. It's very much a matter of poaching.
     
  5. brettp11

    brettp11 Member
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    I've known several people who have made the switch.
    Many times a terminal Masters is received after leaving a Ph.D. program. There is no reason to explain your departure to adcoms as your graduate transcript will be a Master's degree. To say that most schools will not even consider you is *completely* off, given that most information the adcoms use comes from AMCAS or the applicant. If it's not on the transcript (which it won't be) exactly where will the committee get this info?
     
  6. GuitarMan

    GuitarMan Guitarman for President
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    This has been addressed in this forum in a previous thread. Many people on this forum will tell you it is a fatal move to leave a Ph.D. program. They are wrong.

    I left a clinical psych Ph.D. program with a masters because I decided I should have done med school instead. I took orgo I and II, Phys I and II, the MCAT, and applied to four schools in Chicago (because that is where my fiancee lives). I got into three of those schools. Nobody on the adcoms ever suggested that I was a slacker, or that I should have stayed in my program. I told them it was a Ph.D. program, but I decided that med school was a better fit for me in my personal statement. If you don't want to finish, don't waste your time.
     
  7. Cougarblue

    Cougarblue Member
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    I left a Ph.D. program in Pharmacology after my first year of graduate school, withdrawing in the middle of the semester. The program simply was not what it promised to be. I felt like nothing more than a slave spending ten-twelve hours per day in a small room with rats. I was told repeatedly by both my P.I. and the program director that I was committing career suicide, but I still felt that I needed to leave to pursue a career in medicine. After leaving the program I spent a year working to support my wife while she finished her education, and took the April 2002 MCAT. To make a long story short, I spoke to many admissions office personnel in addition to the pre-med advisor at my undergraduate institution. Every single person I spoke to save one at the University of Utah told me to go for it. Many of the medical school admissions officers told me that they saw my leaving graduate school as nothing more than someone changing their career path. To make you feel even better about being able to accomplish your goal, to date I have three interviews scheduled: Tulane(9/9), Baylor(9/13), and UVA(9/16). I applied to twelve schools, received secondaries from all of them, and have not heard a single negative comment about my having left graduate school. Good luck! Following my feelings despite the negative comments which I have received from others has definately been the best choice for me!:D
     
  8. loomis

    loomis Lifetime Student
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    thanks to all who replied. I'll think some more about the issues for the next few days but I am leaning towards leaving the program and giving it a shot at applying to med school. From what everyone has been saying I will discuss the issues in my personal statement and make spell out my reasoning for leaving the phd to md. THANKS AGAIN!
    Loomis
     
  9. mpp

    mpp SDN Moderator
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    I left a PhD program (physics) as well. I took my medical school pre-requisites a few years after I left the program. I was accepted. I had no valid reason for leaving the program except that I just didn't like it. I did not want to become a research physicist. I did not receive a Masters degree for the work I had completed. I did however leave on good terms as the university then turned around and hired me as adjunct faculty teaching introductory physics.
     
  10. DarkChild

    DarkChild Senior Member
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    yupp - leave.
    life is too short to be doing something you dont like
     
  11. ttac

    ttac Trust me, it's still fun.
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    Loomis,
    I just got off the phone with my best friend from college, who was one of the smartest people I knew at MIT. He went into an astrophysics PhD program at Caltech, and then after a few years decided to go to med school. He left the program with a masters.

    He just started his first year at a top-25 school, and absolutely loves it there... I agree that life is too short to spend time doing something you don't love...

    Best of luck!
    -ttac
     
  12. ckent

    ckent Membership Revoked
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    I think that it's OK to leave now and apply. It's only considered poaching when the student is currently enrolled in another program, whereas you would be an ex-student from your phD program. Med school adcoms are people and people know that things go wrong and don't always turn out the way that you expect. All you have to do is explain what happened somewhere in your app, and then I don't see why anyone would hold it against you. Could be wrong, but that would be my opinion if I were on an adcom.
     
  13. GoodMonkey

    GoodMonkey sproutmobile
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    i'm in agreement w/everyone else. i just left a phd program in ecology/toxicology after 1 year in it. i talked about it in my personal statement, how i felt medicine was a better fit for me and the steps i took that solidifed my decision (clinical work, more volunteer stuff, etc.). i've had 2 interviews so far and it's only been brought up marginally, in the "tell me about yourself" quesitons, or "how did you decide this is what you really want to do." i got one "why did you leave grad school" but from the feedback i got from the interviewers, my responses were satisfactory and explained the situation just fine.

    bottom line, leave if you aren't happy. do what makes you happy. if med school is a better personal fit for you, and your activities and life support that choice, then the adcoms (at least the ones at the schools at which you would fit best) will more than likely see that in you and appreciate your decision. at least, that's my opinion. :)

    good luck! :clap:
     
  14. eagle26

    eagle26 Senior Member
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    I dropped out of a Ph.D. program to come to medical school. There wasn't a problem at all. I just clarified in the interview that I realized that I didn't want to be stuck in a lab and that I wanted to work with patients. I told them I explored my other options before realizing medicine was my true calling. But it might depend on the school. Hope this helps.
     
  15. Well, here is my story. I applied when I was in my third year of Ph.D., and I stated specifically that I intended to complete my degree within one year, although of course, probably no one really believed me despite the fact I was telling the truth. Well, I applied to 25 schools, received 9 secondaries, got 4 interviews, two wait-lists (JHU and GW), one post-interview rejection (Yale), and one acceptance (a top 15 school). At the end, I deferred because I needed an extra year to complete my research. After all these application stuff, I realized one thing: before they interview you, they have already judged you based on your stats, and the interview is merely a process to verify their judgement. It is up to you to either confirm their judgement or to somehow modify it. Sure, the interviewers do not favor people who quit, but some interviewers actually resent people who have more degrees than them. Interviewers are not noble and impartial beings, too much of a personal judgement is involved in this process, and frankly, many interviewers are quite shallow. Psychiatrists are usually the favorite picks by the adcom to be interviewers, and one of them asked me: what was my favorite subject in college, and from my simple answer to that question, he acted as if he have already gained a grasp of my personality and inner thinkings and etc. In retrospect, I think this was all bull-****... The bottomline is, be yourself, do what you want to do in life, don't care what the adcoms will or will not think of you, there are too many variables in this damn process. However, one friendly advice, I would in fact quit the Ph.D. program before applying. The notion of poaching could be a concern, but if you are out of a Ph.D. program completely before you apply, no fear of poaching is therefore present anymore.
     

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