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Pre-MD/PhD Help


Full Member
Jun 2, 2010
  1. Pre-Medical
    Hello Student Doctor Network,

    I visit this forum daily and it has helped me gain insight into the MD/PhD profession. I am a College Freshman at the University of Central Florida (in credits, I am at Junior standing because my G.Ed. was completed via Dual Enrollment at my local CC) double majoring in Biotechnology and Anthropology with a minor in Physics. My recent addiction to research dragged me into an MD/PhD route. Viewing the work of my lab director infatuated me with the idea of bench research, but I am not willing to give up the possibility of patient interaction and the aspect of being a doctor even if only part-time. This seems to be the predicament that causes undergraduates to go into an MSTP program. I wanted to get a head start at everything to make myself more competitive because of the increasing competitiveness of MSTPs.

    My Freshman Portfolio:
    Treasurer of the American Red Cross at UCF
    15 hours a week in my Stem Cell Research Lab
    President of my Fraternity's pledge class
    4.0 GPA while taking pre-req bio, chem, and math classes
    100 shadowing hours

    In my few years left as an undergraduate, I want to become an NIH Undergraduate Scholar, so I am looking into internships available with the NIH.

    I will also have completed Honors in the Major, the McNair Scholars program, Prime Stem program, and if I am lucky enough through my research, acquire a scientific publication.

    When I complete my years as an undergraduate, I hope to have a GPA in the 3.7-4.0 range with MCATS 34+ and 4-6 years of research.

    My dream programs are:
    Miami U. (State School)
    University of Florida (State School)
    U Penn
    Penn State
    Notre Dame
    Boston U (Hometown)
    Yale U. ( I love New Haven)

    Is this list realistic? Should I lower my expectations because I do not come from a top 25 university?
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    7+ Year Member
    Aug 21, 2005
    1. Medical Student
      The fact that you listed "Notre Dame" as a potential MD/PhD destination tells me you are moving a bit too fast. For ND to have an MSTP program they probably need to work on getting a medical school first, and second they only relevant health-related research coming out of that institution seems to be on malaria.

      On the upside you avoided listed Princeton as a potential destination...

      In all honesty, you can try to frame your application all you want but life happens and were you sit in 2-3 years may be completely different than right now. The grades, MCAT scores, and research experiences might well be there, but they could just as easily not be. Instead of racing to escape undergrad enjoy it, use it as a conduit to figure out what your interests truly are both in terms of a career as well as your life outside work.


      Full Member
      Jun 2, 2010
      1. Pre-Medical
        I will definitely take that to heart, strong wise words.

        I am also stressing myself out by thinking too much, all I can do is do my best and time will only show me where my best will take me.

        For now my focus will be my state schools like University of Miami, USF, and UF.

        :) I will just stay optimistic and work my hardest, thanks for the advice.


        Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting....
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        15+ Year Member
        Oct 12, 2004
        1. Fellow [Any Field]
        2. Attending Physician
          Hello from a fellow Floridian. :hello:

          It's great that you are thinking about all of your options as a freshman (and kicking butt in school--keep up the good work, BTW. :thumbup:) But as snobored said, you need to keep an open mind and do research (of the career decision variety) to determine if MD/PhD is the right path for you. So, some suggestions:

          1) Find a mentor, preferably an MD/PhD or an MD who does research. People who combine research/clinical work have a very different career and lifestyle than docs who are straight clinical or clinical/teaching. IMO, it's helpful to speak to a younger researcher, who is closer to the admissions process and may have some useful connections that you can take advantage of. But of course an older researcher will have more connections, so there are pros and cons of each.

          2) Call the UCF admissions office, and ask to make an appointment to speak with REL Larkin. He's the admissions director for the UCF med school. Besides being a nice guy, he will help you go over exactly what you need to do to make your app competitive for med school. Listen to him; he's been doing this a long, long time. (He was the admissions director at USF before coming to UCF.) There is no doubt in my mind that I would not have done as well with my med school apps if I hadn't talked to him before applying.

          3) Think about alternative careers as well. MD/PhD takes a long time compared to straight-MD, and it's mainly geared toward people who want to do basic science. Depending on the type of research you want to do, it may make more sense for you to do an MD with a clinical research MS.

          4) No, coming from UCF will not put the top MSTPs and med schools out of your reach as long as you do well, which it appears that you are. Keep up your grades, keep up your research, do well on the MCAT, and find a good mentor. Those are the keys no matter which school you come from--well, except the grades in my case, because I went to New College. ;)

          Best of luck to you. :)


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          1. Attending Physician
            I am also stressing myself out by thinking too much, all I can do is do my best and time will only show me where my best will take me.

            For now my focus will be my state schools like University of Miami, USF, and UF.

            My impression from these statements is that you still consider your future application to be inferior for some reason that appears to me to be completely imagined. Your undergrad school makes little to no difference. I went to my no name state school and I am at a top MSTP. There are many, many examples of this.

            As for state schools, MSTPs and most fully-funded MD/PhD programs do not take state residency into admissions consideration. If you want to stay in Florida because you like it there, that's fine. But don't assume they'll be easier to get into.
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