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Physician Scientist Forum Readme & FAQs (updated 3/21/10)

Discussion in 'Physician Scientists' started by Neuronix, Apr 5, 2003.

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  1. Neuronix

    Neuronix Total nerd SDN Advisor SDN Administrator 10+ Year Member

    Mar 14, 2002
    the beach

    I am just a senior MD/PhD student. I post because there are a lot of MD/PhD questions and not a lot of people who consistently answer them. If you think I am wrong or are more qualified to answer than me, I encourage you to post what you think or to write me your thoughts ([email protected]). Opinions on many topics may vary between programs or even between adcoms within one program. But, this doesn't mean the general community of students can't try to give general advice and support. If you have questions, try to check the answers given here as best as possible, and don't take everything said here as gospel.

    That being said, my favorite thing about SDN and about public, anonymous posting is as follows. When I'm wrong, I tend to get corrected within minutes. Thus, I always encourage people to post instead of writing me privately.

    Table of Contents

    General Interest for Future Physician Scientists
    FAQs about Research--this is a great thread for students trying to decide if they're interested in research.
    Pathways to Becoming a Physician Scientist--student and resident experiences
    Academic Medicine Mentoring Thread--Get answers to your anonymous questions from Tildy, a practicing academic physician scientist.
    Blogs of Students and Residents Studying to Become Physician Scientists--read about what it's like to be training as a physician scientist

    Info and FAQs for Combined Program (MD/PhD, DO/PhD, MSTP) Applicants and Students
    List of Acceptance and Other Resource Threads for Current Applicants
    FAQ #1: By When Do I Need to Decide?
    FAQ #2: What Does MSTP Mean (Versus MD/PhD or DO/PhD)?
    FAQ #3: Why Should I Apply Early?
    FAQ #4: Can I Switch from PhD to MD/PhD?
    FAQ #5: What do Adcoms Know About Where Else We Applied?
    FAQ #6: What Grants Can I Apply for as an MD/PhD Student?
    FAQ #7: What Happens Financially if I Drop the PhD Part of My Combined Program?
    FAQ #8: Is MD/PhD getting more competitive?
    FAQ #9a: Is it better to work in more than one lab as an undergrad?
    FAQ #9b: What do I do if there's multiple research recommendation requirements?
    Newer AAMC Data for MD/PhD Applicants
    NIH Graduate Partnerships Program: information on how it works for MD/PhD students

    Info and FAQs for Other Pathways (MD/MS, Research MD, PhD-to-MD):
    PhD-to-MD: scroll down to post #6 for a list of links

    Info and Advice for International MD/PhD Applicants
    MD/PhD in the US as a Canadian Citizen
    Where to Apply as an International Student
    International Students applying MD/PhD

    Info and Advice for Current Physician Scientist Students (MD/PhD, DO/PhD, MD/MS, research MD)
    Summer Rotations for Incoming MD/PhD or MD/MS Students
    How to Pick a Thesis Lab-very important topic--a must-read for all students who plan to enter graduate degree programs
    Advice for Completing your MD/PhD in a Timely Manner
    Residency Matches for MD/PhD Program Grads (2004-present)--note that these statistics include only students who graduated from combined MD/PhD programs

    Articles about Topics of Interest to Physician Scientist Trainees
    Recent Articles about Translational Research and Physician Scientist Training
    Science Articles about Career Tracks for MD/PhDs

    If you have other links that you would like added to this sticky or you find that one of the links does not work, please let one of the mods (Neuronix and QofQuimica) know.
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2011
    Corgisforlife likes this.
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  3. Neuronix

    Neuronix Total nerd SDN Advisor SDN Administrator 10+ Year Member

    Mar 14, 2002
    the beach
    Many students wonder, what grants can I apply for as a MD/PhD student? What do these cover? What do I get back from it?

    Threads discussing these issues can be found here:

    In general, MD/PhDs can get grants through the F30 funding mechanism from the NIH. The program announcement can be found here:

    The biggest caveat to this funding mechanism is, only a few NIH institutes will accept F30 grants. Those are (from the link)
    National Institute on Aging (NIA/NIH), (
    National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA/NIH), (
    National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD/NIH), (
    National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA/NIH), (
    National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS/NIH), (
    National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH/NIH), (
    National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS/NIH), (
    Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS/NIH), (

    If your research doesn't fall into one of those catagories, you may have some private options. While HHMI does not take applications from MD/PhD students any longer, you may be able to get private grant funding elsewhere. I need more information on these options (PM me!), but ask your program administrators or the forums.

    If you are a non-funded MD/PhD student, you may be able to ask for tuition and salary for yourself, essentially getting funding for part or all of the program. For the funded student, you won't get nearly as much. Typically, you'll be asking for salary support during your PhD and/or MD years, to help relieve the burden on your mentor or program. If you get anything at all, it may be a small bonus on your stipend (maybe a few thousand a year), and maybe a little bit of money for travel or equipment. Many schools prohibit giving the bonus, so you really get very little except...

    Prestige! Being successfully funded will look impressive on your CV for later in life. How much it will exactly matter for residency and/or fellowship is debatable, but it's one of the main considerations for most fully-funded students in applying for these grants.
  4. QofQuimica

    QofQuimica Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting.... Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved SDN Administrator 10+ Year Member

    These links are to threads with posts from students, residents, and physicians who are taking different paths to becoming physician scientists. They offer pros, cons, and advice about taking each path. If you'd like to contribute your experience, feel free to go to the appropriate thread and add your own. Thanks to everyone who has contributed. :)

    Student, Resident, and Physician Posts on their Experiences in Becoming Medical Researchers:

    Formal MD/PhD, DO/PhD, or MSTP Program

    Research MD or MD/MS Program

    PhD-to-MD, PhD-to-DO, and MD-to-PhD (Separate Degrees)

    Additional SDN Resources for Future Physician Scientists:

    Academic Medicine Mentoring Thread (get advice from Tildy, a practicing clinician scientist)

    CCLCMer's List of Formal MD/MS Programs (schools that offer research MD/MS programs)

    Links to Articles on Clinical and Translational Research (thread with links to clinical/translational research articles from Science and Nature-read at school for access to the Science articles)
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 14, 2012
  5. QofQuimica

    QofQuimica Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting.... Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved SDN Administrator 10+ Year Member

  6. Neuronix

    Neuronix Total nerd SDN Advisor SDN Administrator 10+ Year Member

    Mar 14, 2002
    the beach
    Hi everyone! They gave me moderator status so I hope I can now be of assistance where it is needed. For everyone who is new to MSTP admissions and this site, there's a great composition on MSTPs and the process at: (SDN's Vader and jot)
    Another student (SDN's Caristra) has written a new MD/PhD guide here:

    An official perspective can be found here:

    Meanwhile, as I see fit I will be adding common questions to this thread. This way we can save everyone some time by cutting down on duplicate questions. My goal to for the FAQ is not to be all-inclusive ( does a much better job), but rather to attempt to address the questions that aren't politically correct or are frequently asked but don't have a concrete answer. If you find a broken link, think something should be added, or just disagree with me, please PM me!

    Good luck to all this year's coming applicants and the waitlist waiters! [​IMG]

    Some additional links: -- SDN 2008 Entering Class Acceptance List -- SDN 2007 Entering Class Acceptance List -- SDN 2006 Entering Class Acceptance List -- SDN 2005 Entering Class Acceptance List -- SDN 2004 Entering Class Acceptance List -- SDN 2003 Entering Class Acceptance List -- SDN 2002 Entering Class Acceptance List -- AMSA Medical School Surveys -- NIH MD/PhD Funding Opportunities Thread</a>
    More recent threads on F30 grants: -- NIH Funding Trends (Including medical school funding rankings) -- CRISP a database of federally funded grants

    Schools that post accepted student stats: -- Baylor -- WashU (Click on Admissions then FAQ) -- Cornell -- Penn
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2012
  7. QofQuimica

    QofQuimica Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting.... Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved SDN Administrator 10+ Year Member

    This post is for all of you grad students wanting to go to med school *after* you finish your PhDs or MSes.

    Questions for people who are currently in grad school or have completed their degrees:
    How Adcoms View Graduate Degrees
    1) Will getting a PhD hurt me in the med school app process? Short answer: no, as long as you meet all other qualifications.
    2) How much do adcoms care about my research experience? Can it make up for other deficiencies in my app? Short answer: No, basically, your PhD is like a really nice EC.
    3) What are my chances of getting into med school after finishing my MS? Short answer: fine, as long as your other qualifications are in order.

    GPAs, MCAT Scores, and Other Application Process Issues
    1) Who should I get to write my LORs? Short answer: your PI for sure.
    2) How much does my grad school GPA matter? Short answer: not much, as long as you pass. Your UG GPA is more important.
    3) If I have a PhD, how much does my lousy (sub 3.0) UG GPA matter? Short answer: Unfortunately, a lot. You may need to take some UG classes to boost your GPA.
    4) What about if I have my PhD, good UG grades, but an average (high 20s) MCAT score? Short answer: This is actually a better problem to have. Apply broadly, and you should do ok.
    5) I have multiple posters/presentations/abstracts/pubs. How do I enter them on AMCAS? Short answer: This varies by the individual. See linked thread for suggestions.
    6) I have a science PhD. Do I really have to go back and complete freshman level labs? Short answer: Check with the schools, but almost certainly you will have to take any missing pre-reqs.

    Nontrad Researchers Going Back to School
    1) I'm a PhD who has been out of school for a while. Where do I start? Short answer: start at the beginning, with taking the pre-reqs and preparing adequately for the MCAT.
    2) I'm an older PhD (age 35+). What are my chances if my app is strong? Short answer: all you can do is apply broadly and try, just like younger applicants.

    Timing Issues
    1) What happens if I am accepted to med school but don't finish my PhD in time? Can I defer? Short answer: Talk to your school(s)--they'll tell you what they want you to do.
    2) Is it possible to fast track through medical school in two years if I already have a PhD? Short answer: no, you should expect to go to medical school for the full four years.
    3) I want to switch from a PhD to an MS and apply to med school. What do I tell my committee? Short answer: do not lie, and do not burn bridges.

    Questions for people who are considering going to grad school:
    1) If I'm not interested in doing research, is a PhD a good bridge to med school? Short answer: no. Long answer: hell, no.
    2) Does it make sense to get a PhD while I do my pre-reqs? Short answer: no, not unless you want to be a researcher.
    3) Can I start a PhD and then transfer into an MD/PhD program? Short answer: This is fairly uncommon. You should contact your school's MSTP director to check if this is an option, but please realize that it's *much* easier for a medical student to get into an MD/PhD program than it is for a grad student.

    Advice from PhDs and MSes currently in medical school or residency:
    Gut Shot

    PhD-to-MD Experience Thread
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2011
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