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wynter_dreams

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Hello everyone.

I would appreciate some advice and feedback on my situation and academic goals. Basically, I am a nontrad who did some irreversible damage to my GPA the first time I was in school. My cGPA is 3.47, and while I have had a strong upward trend since returning to university, I have 200+ credits so any repair at this point will be very minimal. To illustrate, last term I took 16 credits and finished with a 4.0. My cGPA went up by 0.01 points. I'm hoping that by the time I graduate that it will be solidly in the 3.5 range but it won't get much higher than that. I have a strong desire to be a physician-scientist, but obviously my GPA is already low for medical school standards, much less MD/PhD programs. However, many of my professors have told me that I would be a competitive candidate for PhD programs even with my GPA.

My current plans after graduation are to pursue an MS in microbiology & immunology. My question is, would it be a better idea to try to get a PhD before applying to medical schools? Or should I work hard to perform well in my MS, do really well on the MCAT, and make my application as competitive as possible and apply to MD/PhD programs instead? Am I just being ridiculous by even entertaining the idea in the first place? Any feedback would be appreciated, thanks in advance!
 

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MD/PhD programs are incredibly competitive from my understanding. Not sure if a 3.47 would cut the mustard. Regardless, if you get a great MCAT score (520+) you will certainly be able to get into an MD program and above a 510 would likely guarantee acceptance into a DO program. Unless you really want to get a PhD (ie you love research), getting one for the sake of medical school entrance is a complete waste of time and money IMO.
 
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wynter_dreams

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MD/PhD programs are incredibly competitive from my understanding. Not sure if a 3.47 would cut the mustard. Regardless, if you get a great MCAT score (520+) you will certainly be able to get into an MD program and above a 510 would likely guarantee acceptance into a DO program. Unless you really want to get a PhD (ie you love research), getting one for the sake of medical school entrance is a complete waste of time and money IMO.

Thank you for your response! I'm sorry if I didn't make myself clear. I do not want to pursue a PhD just to increase my chances of getting into medical school. I agree that that would be a huge waste of time and money. I love research and want to be a physician-scientist, however I feel that my lackluster GPA would keep me out of MD/PhD programs.
 
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You can still pursue a research career with a MD only. I did the PhD to MD route and 99% of schools only cared about my MCAT and undergrad GPA. The PhD does not make you more competitive for MD acceptance in my opinion. It did help when I applied for residency.
 
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Davidfromcali

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Unless you have a love for research and want to make it a significant part of your career, you’re better off doing the master and then applying to med school

All those extra years is just years of physician salary and career advancement wasted if the PhD isn’t put to real use.
 
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wynter_dreams

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You can still pursue a research career with a MD only. I did the PhD to MD route and 99% of schools only cared about my MCAT and undergrad GPA. The PhD does not make you more competitive for MD acceptance in my opinion. It did help when I applied for residency.
Unless you have a love for research and want to make it a significant part of your career, you’re better off doing the master and then applying to med school

All those extra years is just years of physician salary and career advancement wasted if the PhD isn’t put to real use.

Thanks for the responses! To make myself more clear, my interest in obtaining a PhD is NOT to make myself more competitive for medical schools. I am aware that it would be a huge waste of time and money. To be clear, if I had a 3.8+ GPA I would just apply directly to MD/PhD programs. However, due to my low undergrad GPA I was wondering if obtaining a PhD before applying to MD would be a viable route for this same pathway. I want to have a career in research so it would not go to waste, I am not interested in a PhD as simply a stats booster.
 

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Be honest with yourself. Do you have a chance to be admitted to medical school at this point? I think that you would answer "no" and the sticking point is a low undergrad GPA that can not be ameliorated.

Have you optimized your application? Again, I think that your answer would be no.

How can you improve your application to the point where you could be admitted? MS, would be a reasonable first step. PhD in advance of MD would not be. First, you would have many years devoted to a PhD which is meant to train scientists. Receiving the PhD and then applying to MD would look like a career change that would raise questions. Furthermore, the work done on the dissertation, which is more than half of the years spent in a PhD, would not do anything to improve our opinion of your academic chops and ability to do well in the didactic portion of medical school. Furthermore, the years spent with the dissertation research would take away from the opportunities to do clinical activities and non-clinical community service which would be expected of an MD candidate (and recent experiences, not stuff done before starting in on the PhD).

Do consider what you would do if not admitted to MD. Would you consider DO? Shadow a DO and consider applying to DO schools. Would you consider a mid-level clinician career or would you go into research (no clinical). That is where you need to figure out your plan B.
 
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wynter_dreams

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Be honest with yourself. Do you have a chance to be admitted to medical school at this point? I think that you would answer "no" and the sticking point is a low undergrad GPA that can not be ameliorated.

Have you optimized your application? Again, I think that your answer would be no.

How can you improve your application to the point where you could be admitted? MS, would be a reasonable first step. PhD in advance of MD would not be. First, you would have many years devoted to a PhD which is meant to train scientists. Receiving the PhD and then applying to MD would look like a career change that would raise questions. Furthermore, the work done on the dissertation, which is more than half of the years spent in a PhD, would not do anything to improve our opinion of your academic chops and ability to do well in the didactic portion of medical school. Furthermore, the years spent with the dissertation research would take away from the opportunities to do clinical activities and non-clinical community service which would be expected of an MD candidate (and recent experiences, not stuff done before starting in on the PhD).

Do consider what you would do if not admitted to MD. Would you consider DO? Shadow a DO and consider applying to DO schools. Would you consider a mid-level clinician career or would you go into research (no clinical). That is where you need to figure out your plan B.

Thank you very much for your response. You brought up a lot of points I hadn't considered. It seems that due to my low GPA, pursuing an MD/PhD is out of the question and I should just concentrate on making my application competitive enough for medical school. I would be just as happy to apply to a DO school, I suppose I just haven't heard much about DO/PhD programs which is why I didn't bring it up. If I were not able to get into medical school at all after many attempts my plan B would be a career in research. I do want to be a doctor, of course, but I also love research. Ideally, I would want to do both, hence my interest in the duo degree programs. I appreciate the feedback!
 
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I recommend building your application (MCAT, clinical experience, volunteering) and applying MD. The research masters may not be a particularly effective/efficient route. You can do research and be a physician-scientist without a PhD. Good luck!
 
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Goro

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Hello everyone.

I would appreciate some advice and feedback on my situation and academic goals. Basically, I am a nontrad who did some irreversible damage to my GPA the first time I was in school. My cGPA is 3.47, and while I have had a strong upward trend since returning to university, I have 200+ credits so any repair at this point will be very minimal. To illustrate, last term I took 16 credits and finished with a 4.0. My cGPA went up by 0.01 points. I'm hoping that by the time I graduate that it will be solidly in the 3.5 range but it won't get much higher than that. I have a strong desire to be a physician-scientist, but obviously my GPA is already low for medical school standards, much less MD/PhD programs. However, many of my professors have told me that I would be a competitive candidate for PhD programs even with my GPA.

My current plans after graduation are to pursue an MS in microbiology & immunology. My question is, would it be a better idea to try to get a PhD before applying to medical schools? Or should I work hard to perform well in my MS, do really well on the MCAT, and make my application as competitive as possible and apply to MD/PhD programs instead? Am I just being ridiculous by even entertaining the idea in the first place? Any feedback would be appreciated, thanks in advance!
What are your life goals? You don't need the MD/PhD to do research.

As Md?phD programs look for the cream of the crop, they can afford to turn away reinventors. The discussion is also moot without an MCAT (which needs to be sky high anyway).

A research MS won't help you get into MD schools. They look at these programs as having too much grade inflation.
 
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Thank you very much for your response. You brought up a lot of points I hadn't considered. It seems that due to my low GPA, pursuing an MD/PhD is out of the question and I should just concentrate on making my application competitive enough for medical school. I would be just as happy to apply to a DO school, I suppose I just haven't heard much about DO/PhD programs which is why I didn't bring it up. If I were not able to get into medical school at all after many attempts my plan B would be a career in research. I do want to be a doctor, of course, but I also love research. Ideally, I would want to do both, hence my interest in the duo degree programs. I appreciate the feedback!
I think as many others have said focus on getting into Med school and you can pursue research during school and residency. Many residency programs have research tracks that train to you become a physician scientist and some even allow you to pursue a PhD while in residency. There are also Masters programs that are designed to teach clinicians to become researchers after residency.
 
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wynter_dreams

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What are your life goals? You don't need the MD/PhD to do research.

As Md?phD programs look for the cream of the crop, they can afford to turn away reinventors. The discussion is also moot without an MCAT (which needs to be sky high anyway).

A research MS won't help you get into MD schools. They look at these programs as having too much grade inflation.

Thank you very much for your response! I'm surprised by your comment about the MS because I've been advised that it would help offset my low undergrad GPA. I suppose I'll have to figure out other ways to make my application more competitive. To be clear, I am not deadset on MD and would be just as happy to gain acceptance into a DO school. I didn't bring up DO in this thread because I hadn't heard about DO/PhD programs. I don't have an MCAT yet as I will not be applying until 2024 (if I do the MS) but I am definitely aiming to score high. I will drop the pursuit of the PhD, and find other ways to do research. I really appreciate the feedback!
 
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wynter_dreams

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I think as many others have said focus on getting into Med school and you can pursue research during school and residency. Many residency programs have research tracks that train to you become a physician scientist and some even allow you to pursue a PhD while in residency. There are also Masters programs that are designed to teach clinicians to become researchers after residency.

Thank you for the information, I did not know about any of those options. I agree with everyone that I need to focus on getting into medical school first and then worry about research afterward. I appreciate your response!
 
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ExcitatorySynapse

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If you are a US citizen/greencard holder, have a productive MS, and get a good MCAT, I don't see why you couldn't apply to MD/PhD programs? I have seen such students being encouraged to apply in the P/S forum. I'm not the expert, maybe @Fencer can weigh in more.

From my perspective, preparing an MD only application requires accumulating a lot of volunteer hours/clinical experience, which, if research is actually your passion, may not be all that enjoyable. You need far less for an MD/PhD application. Moreover, medical school is not meant to teach research to students, it's a totally different world where you focus on learning an endless list of facts and performing well clinically and personally I would've hated to have put any research aside for 4 + 4 years of clinical training. AFAIK research residencies want track records of papers etc., and if you go to a DO school or MD with limited research funding, that's not easy to come by.
 
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cavesnakess

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I agree with @ExcitatorySynapse. I don't see why you couldn't try to MD/PhD programs as long as your GPA is supplemented with a strong MCAT score (515+) and good research experience (MS or NIH post-bacc). Sure, top tier schools may be out of reach but any school that offers the program is a good school and will give you the resources and protected time to pursue a physician-scientist career. An important note to tag along the previous post, the MDs who do research without a PhD are a self-selecting group. You likely won't hear about MDs who were unable to do research bc lack of funding, pressure to dedicate all their time to practicing, etc.

Anecdotal evidence so take it with a grain of salt, but my research mentor was a non-trad MD/PhD student at a T30 with a 3.3 undergrad GPA + MS in nuclear engineering. He, obviously, had a very compelling story that was evident in his application.
 
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Seihai

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Remember that you don't necessarily need an MD-PhD to be a physician-scientist. If you have the opportunity to apply MD-PhD, however, I would do it because of the training benefits (coursework concessions and such which shorten the PhD, integration of the two degrees more effectively, and so on).

I don't think you're out of the running for an MD-PhD. Your recent good performance should be seen in a positive light. Do well on your MCAT and you should be competitive for many MD-PhD programs (though I wouldn't make your list just the top 10 schools for obvious reasons).
 
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Patros

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You haven't mentioned your research experience, how is that? Remember that's half your application for MD/PhD programs. Many MD/PhD programs have a separate admissions committee from the medical or graduate school, so you can compensate for a relatively lower GPA with an extensive research CV (and accompanying publications and strong letters of rec from research mentors) and a clear, demonstrable interest in basic/translational research. A sub-3.5 GPA is uncommon but not unheard of in MD/PhD programs, especially for those with engineering backgrounds.

As some of the others have said, you also to need to consider what your ultimate career goals are. What do you envision yourself doing when you're done with training? Would you say that a career without basic science/translational research is a dealbreaker? I think you need to be sure about this before you commit to the PhD or MD/PhD. If clinical work/research is more your priority, then maybe focus on MD admissions. A research-heavy resume is looked upon favorably for MD admissions too, based on my experience.

The inverse is also something to consider, how important is clinical work to you? PhD admissions are much, much easier in terms of GPA requirements as compared to MD/PhD programs. With a 3.5 GPA and a stronger research CV, you will be competitive at a lot of PhD programs at elite graduate schools that wouldn't even glance at your application for their MSTP programs. However, I definitely would not advise doing a PhD as an intermediate step to medical school. It won't help, and you will be 5-6 years older by the end of all this.
 
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pretysmitty

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I kinda skimmed this thread but I really don’t see an issue with applying MD/PhD as long as you get a very high MCAT score and have very strong research experience.


There was a thread a few years back where a dude w ~3.4 and ~520 got into some T5 schools bc they had like 4 first author >3-4 IF pubs.


Even if you’re only considering MD-only, a very high MCAT can still absolutey keep you in the running. People need to chill smh.


In fact, I’d say a bigger concern is getting excellent research experience, as in stellar LORs and publications. You can get an excellent MCAT with an arbitrarily high amount of effort, doesn’t necessarily apply for research though.
 
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What is even going on in this thread?

3.4+ GPA isn't terrible. Numerous people get in with 3.4+ every year. It may be a lower-tier program but who cares as long as it's fully funded and has opportunities for you.

You will need a high MCAT score and significant research experience to get in with that GPA, but it's certainly not a long shot.

I would advocate not to even bother with the master's if you can achieve the above.
 
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Neuronix

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MD/PhD is absolutely about stats, but 3.4+ isn't something that can't be overcome with excellent MCAT and research experience. See my sticky post.

Masters I'm not even sure helps except to boost the research experience. It won't help the MCAT and won't do much if anything to the GPA.

If poster was saying 3.2 we'd be having a different discussion, but 3.4+ isn't insurmountable at lower tier programs.

Edit: was responding to a now deleted post.
 

pretysmitty

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@Neuronix didn't think you'd respond so quickly haha... below is my comment, was still on the SDN app:

In general, I've noticed that people think that MD/PhD studentss need to be the absolute top tier compared to MD-only students. After learning a bit more about the process, it seems that MD/PhD is really about stats and research, while MD is about stats and an impressive list of EC's that usually includes research. Therefore, they are different programs that select for two similar but ultimately different skillsets. Would you agree with this characterization?

Only speaking up because I've experienced talking to others that MD/PhD is put on this pedestal above "regular" applicants, but they seem to me like different lanes.

Granted, TT-positions are a lot more competitive than non-academic careers, and MSTPs are making a huge investment - but from what I've read being the president of 10 clubs doesn't really impress MD/PhD adcoms.

Edit: spelling
 
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PhD in biological sciences can take up to 6-7 years (sometimes more), MD can cost up to $400k (sometimes more). There are many ways to reach your goals; as others have mentioned, you can be a physician scientist without a PhD. There may be ways for you as a researcher with a PhD in biomedical sciences (but no MD) to become involved with things like patient advocacy, which might give you the fulfillment you seek. But if your goal is to acquire those two specific degrees, doing them in sequence is not preferable to the far more efficient combined program.

Your grades alone will not preclude you from acceptance. If you have a solid mcat (90th percentile +), strong research (pubs will help), and apply broadly, you have a chance.
 

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Hi @wynter_dreams, if your goal is to become a physician-scientist then you should consider doing either MD-only or MD/PhD. MD-only would require you to boost up your clinical experiences as that is what they care for. MD/PhD is all about your research experiences. Regardless of which path you take you would need to do well on the MCAT. Ideally 515+ for MD/PhD and 510+ for MD. Your master's may not help for MD as much but MD/PhD it would be good if you are involved in an independent project. Consider taking some undergraduate-level classes after undergrad to get as close to a 3.5 gpa as possible. Then you would look at low-tier and mid-tier programs that take a lot of students.

You could do PhD-to-MD but that process takes longer and would require you to get involved in clinical experiences during your graduate school years. You still need to do well on the MCAT. If you take this path look into the NIH GPP program because that way you can use NIH funding for when you attend medical school.
 

ExcitatorySynapse

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In general, I've noticed that people think that MD/PhD studentss need to be the absolute top tier compared to MD-only students. After learning a bit more about the process, it seems that MD/PhD is really about stats and research, while MD is about stats and an impressive list of EC's that usually includes research. Therefore, they are different programs that select for two similar but ultimately different skillsets. Would you agree with this characterization?

Only speaking up because I've experienced talking to others that MD/PhD is put on this pedestal above "regular" applicants, but them seem to me like different lanes.

Granted, TT-positions are a lot more competitive than non-academic careers, and MSTPs are making a huge investment - but from what I've read being the president of 10 clubs doesn't really impress MD/PhD adcoms.
Not neuronix, but I agree that they are different paths, though the MD/PhD route is more self selecting in terms of applicants. In my experience, for MD/PhD admissions, these things matter: (1) being US citizen/GC, (2) research experience and especially papers, (3) MCAT, (4) MCAT/GPA, (5) some clinical experience. Having interesting additional ECs is probably a moderate boost, as is the undergrad tier that you went to. The objective is clear cut - MD/PhD programs want to produce great scientists who retain a clinical touch, and reasoning skill/intelligence/track record of productive research involvement are considered predictors for scientific aptitude.

MD programs largely want to select for people who will be "good doctors, which is a subjective goal that demands demonstration of whatever characteristics that adcoms like through more diversified ECs. Sometimes I find it funny that I am in med school because I truthfully feel like I barely reflect what MD only adcoms want.
 
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