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PI recruiting me for PhD - help!

Discussion in 'Physician Scientists' started by Adcadet, Oct 3, 2002.

  1. Adcadet

    Adcadet Long way from Gate 27
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    Hey all - as many of you may know from the pre-allo forum, I'm applying to a number of MD programs. I've been doing research since high school, and have always planned on continuing research as much as I can through med school. But in the past I've always thought that I could get by without a PhD, as I've seen plenty of MDs doing good research without a PhD. The lab I work in just got a large, 4 year grant focusing on the stuff I've been piloting. The PI wants me to stay and do a PhD, since the grant is begging for a grad student and I'm already running on this project. He says that if I'm going to be doing a lot of research, I might as well get the PhD. I love my lab, and the reasearch is exactly what I want to be doing.


    My PI seems to have funds for my PhD portion - does anybody know if you can do a non-MSTP MD/PhD, especially if I have a great letter from my PI saying that he wants me to work on his grant? Does anybody have any suggestions? I'm totally lost as to what I should do.....I want the MD more than the PhD, but it would be nice to get both.

    Thanks,
    Adcadet
     
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  3. Andrew_Doan

    Andrew_Doan Doc, Author, Entrepreneur
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    Adcadet,

    I think it's too late in the game to switch to applying for MD-PhD programs. You have to change your essay and make sure the admissions committees receive your updated material. You'll give up your chances for the MD spot and start too late for the MD-PhD application cycle. You can call your local school and speak with the MSTP coordinator and ask if you can apply to both. Some schools (only a few) will allow you to be considered by both programs. It doesn't hurt to ask.

    If you're interested in research and medicine, then I highly recommend the MD-PhD route. Grant writing will be easier and you'll have the credentials to back you up. On the other hand, I know many MDs who do awesome research, but they also spent 2-4 years as a Post-Doc to learn how to do research (in the end, however, they never got the PhD).

    In short, yes, you can either be an MD-PhD or MD to run a good biomedical research lab. But, I think you'll have better training to prepare you for an academic career as a MD-PhD.

    The advantage to applying MD-PhD now is that you can compete for the MSTP funding which pays for medical school. If you don't care about MSTP funding AND you plan to attend the medical school locally, then go the MD route. After you gain acceptance, complete the first year or two of medical school and then break off to do the PhD program with your lab. Maybe you can make a deal with the lab to pay for your medical school in the final years. You can be in the MD-PhD program as a non-MSTP student! :) One of my friends at Hopkins was a non-MSTP student and joined the MD-PhD program as a second year medical student. He later found funding for the last 2 years of medical school.

    In regards to your competitiveness for MSTP, I think your research background would make you very competitive, assuming your 4-5 years of research lead to independent research and publications. Your undergrad GPA and MCAT scores are slightly below average for MSTP, but you may be awesome in other areas that make people drool over your application. You never know until you try!

    Good luck.
     
  4. Adcadet

    Adcadet Long way from Gate 27
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    thanks Optho! That's kindof what I've been thinking. I'll have to see what my local MD/PhD coordinator says.
     
  5. Adcadet

    Adcadet Long way from Gate 27
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    Major question: how much will it help my MD/PhD application to have a PI actively recruiting me? What if he can fund my entire PhD portion? Does this make it easier for me to get in?
     
  6. Andrew_Doan

    Andrew_Doan Doc, Author, Entrepreneur
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    Your PI funding you will not factor in your admission to medical school. ALL science PhDs are funded in one way or another. It's really no big deal to be funded for the PhD portion. This is included in your acceptance to the graduate program.

    However, it will help if he knows people on the admissions committee, and that's a different issue.
     
  7. Sonya

    Sonya Senior Member
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    I believe (can someone confim this) it is not unhead of, to start off in an MD program, and after 1 yr of medschool, get into an MSTP program.

    If you want to do active research, i see the PhD as a BIG plus. I debated this in my mind for a long time. Yes, MD can do good research, but, as ortho mentioned, they need a solid research training. And, as MSTP programs are becoming more common, it is becoming less the thing for MDs to do solid research. One big factor (besides finances) is that, compared to doing a post-doc, with PhD training, you get a formal training, with appropriate classes to complement it. a nd, you don't need to worry about getting a grant as PhD student.

    Your PI recruiting will help in that you w ill get a vey strong rec. The funding, i don't think will make much difference.
     
  8. Andrew_Doan

    Andrew_Doan Doc, Author, Entrepreneur
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    Each year, programs receive money from NIH to fund a specific number of MSTP positions. It is possible to receive MSTP after the first year; BUT, it's very unlikely unless they receive increase funding from NIH or someone drops out of the program. I wouldn't expect this to happen if you're a non-MSTP student.
     
  9. Adcadet

    Adcadet Long way from Gate 27
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    the latest thought is that I can start down the MD path and add in the PhD. The only problem is that the PhD portion is probably funded, but the MD portion is not. I'm still trying to find ways to get the MD part funded....looks like MSTP is definitely not a given. I suppose I could pay for the MD portion by loans, but I'd prefer not to.
     
  10. Adcadet

    Adcadet Long way from Gate 27
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    so I'm thinking I will apply regular MD to my state school, and break off at some point to do the PhD. Does anybody think it would be disadventageous to talk about this during my MD interview in two weeks? Do you think the adcom might think I'm a better fit to a straight PhD program and reject me from the MD program?
     
  11. Sonya

    Sonya Senior Member
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    I don't think you should mention it. I guess it sounds like you're indescisive (sp?).

    Sonya
     
  12. Adcadet

    Adcadet Long way from Gate 27
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    I know I want the MD; I'm not convinced I want/need/should get the PhD. I do very much want to continue the research.
     
  13. Andrew_Doan

    Andrew_Doan Doc, Author, Entrepreneur
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    In this case, go for the MD. State that you are interested in research and will pursue it during medical school. If asked about a PhD, then state that you may consider it after you discuss more with faculty role models. You can always break off to the PhD after being admitted.
     
  14. ckent

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    It is possible to enter an MD/PhD program late in the game. I know that people at my school were accepted during 1st yr, and during 2nd yr. Some MSTP programs will back pay you to refund the tuition that you've already paid, others will just start paying you once you start, and some will only offer to pay for your tuition and during your PhD program part. It depends on a lot of different factors, it's worth looking into if you really want to get a phd.
     
  15. Sonya

    Sonya Senior Member
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    optho,

    you're confusing me here ( i know, i'm not asking the question here, adcadet is, but anyway, i wanted to clear something)

    on one hand you're saying
    "
    . It is possible to receive MSTP after the first year; BUT, it's very unlikely unless they receive increase funding from NIH or someone drops out of the program."

    but, then, you're saying ". You can always break off to the PhD after being admitted."

    i suppose i'm misunderstanding, but those two statements seem contradictory. So, if you change you're mind as an MII, you can do MD-PhD as a non MSTP. Is that what you're saying? But, you'll still be funded for all 4 yrs of PhD and the remaining MD years (maybe retroactive MD years, too). So, then what's the advatage of MSTP?
    or, are you saying something else. I don 't think adcadet was thinking of changing his mind and doing on ly PhD.

    Thanks,
    Sonya
     
  16. Andrew_Doan

    Andrew_Doan Doc, Author, Entrepreneur
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    Hi Sonya,

    Here's what I'm saying.

    If he breaks off to the PhD as a MSII, then here are the possibilities:

    1) PhD will always be funded but he'll have to pay for medical school as a NON-MSTP.

    2) MSTP may be awarded (unlikely to be retroactive), BUT he'll get the last 2 years of medical school paid for.

    3) MSTP may be awarded, including retroactive pay. I've never seen this happen but others on this site state it has been done.

    Hope this clears it up.
     

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