Oct 15, 2014
4
1
Status
Pre-Medical
Trying to figure out how I want to go about this upcoming application cycle, very interested in research / MD-PhD, but I think I'm an unusual applicant:

Stats so far:
URM
cGPA + sGPA : both ~3.5
Non-science Major, no upper level course work...
MCAT : TBD

~2 years as undergrad researcher, hard science. Poster, Presentation, middle author abstract pub. Working on a solo project for last year.
~1 year (2 by this upcoming cycle) FT research assistant in a highly translational lab. I'm learning a lot, but there is very little independence, unlikely to end up with my own project, not a very mentored experience.

I took the time off to see if I could see myself going more fully into research, and I can. The dream at this point is the 80/20 PI job.



Basically, I don't know where to go from here.

1) I can apply to PREP programs and IRTA , making sure I end up with a strong mentor and the opportunity to do high level, independent work and try to apply the strength of my research. (no debt, but no coursework and the pay is significantly less that I'm getting now)

2) Apply to the in-state post-bacc enrichment program to bump up GPA, gain upper level course work, do research on the side ( a not ridiculous amount of debt).

3) Call it a wash, accept that there's lots of ways to be a physician scientist, apply MD now and get on with my life.


Like I said, I realize there's lots of ways to be a physician scientist, but I do believe the PhD is the best training available if my long term goal is research, and I'm willing to make some sacrifices to get there. But I also want to be practical, I don't want to invest time and/or money in something that doesn't at the very least give me a reasonable shot at an MSTP acceptance.

Also, I know the MCAT is not insignificant in this equation. I only ask now because I would need to get a jump on looking out PIs before I get my scores back to make 1 or 2 happen. I won't pretend I know for a fact I'm going to get a killer score, but feel free to give me an idea of what my options are based on score ranges.
 
Last edited:

Elixir6

5+ Year Member
Aug 23, 2013
240
121
Status
MD/PhD Student
I think a good/bad MCAT is going to make or break you here. Study hard for the MCAT. You can still do research without a PhD, but its less likely you'll have a lab, because its less likely you will be able to get an R01. Moreover, with an MD "only" you will find it difficult to be a productive researcher as a fellow and even less likely to want to do research at that stage. Without having a track record after residency it will be very hard to get NIH grants that are stepping stones to R01s.

Your application is reasonable researchwise (though the specifics can make a big difference), but if you don't do well on the MCAT you won't even get into med school let alone MD/PhD (sorry to say it harshly). I say forget the Post-bac and GPA bumping. Just continue research and and if you don't do well on the MCAT try again and much harder to really do well the 2nd time.

Apply widely to both MD and MD/PhD. Take the best of what you can get and "move on" as you said in point #4 - it is possible to do research in many ways and many different types and levels or research.

G'luck
 

bd4727

10+ Year Member
Jul 17, 2008
361
26
USA
Status
Attending Physician
Agreed with above poster that worrying about bumping your GPA is not important enough relative to MCAT, especially for MD/PhD programs. If you get a decent MCAT you will have a good shot to get into a MD/PhD program somewhere. It sounds like you have not taken upper level science classes-- have you even taken the required classes for med school? Obviously that would be first step...
 
OP
C
Oct 15, 2014
4
1
Status
Pre-Medical
Agreed with above poster that worrying about bumping your GPA is not important enough relative to MCAT, especially for MD/PhD programs. If you get a decent MCAT you will have a good shot to get into a MD/PhD program somewhere. It sounds like you have not taken upper level science classes-- have you even taken the required classes for med school? Obviously that would be first step...
Yeah, the 3.5sGPA is all of the reqs. I was pre-med from day 1 with a humanities major, have all the ECs etc. (nothing stellar, but significant). I didn't seriously start to consider research until senior year when I started working on my own project, post-bacc research has solidified that desire.

Thanks for the input you two, guess I should go study....
 

tr

inert protoplasm
Gold Donor
15+ Year Member
Nov 17, 1999
1,604
572
Status
Attending Physician
I sort of think the lack of upper division science courses could be problematic for MD/PhD programs. I'd lean towards applying MD and getting on with it, or if you really have your heart set on MD/PhD I would try to take at least a few upper level science courses in your area of interest before you apply. Could you get them free at the institution where you are working as a research assistant? Many universities offer free auditing and/or reduced tuition for graded courses for employees.
 

haanman

7+ Year Member
Jul 25, 2011
20
5
Status
MD/PhD Student
Late to the thread, but thought I'd contribute in light of your recent questions about genomics/bioinformatics. I agree with the advice to study hard for the MCAT and apply this coming cycle (both MD and MD/PhD). Although (1) the MCAT and (2) your current research should be priorities for you, it wouldn't hurt to talk to a few PIs who are doing the kind of work that interests you and ask what kind of background they'd ideally like to see from an incoming PhD student. Don't worry about the GPA, but you do want to know and be able to articulate what it'll take to do the kind of research that interests you. If you have time, take or sit in on a class or two.

What's your clinical experience like? Ideally you'd like enough to be comparable to the MD-only applicants, and it'll come up a lot in your MD/PhD interviews as well. And don't worry if you end up landing an MD-only spot--you'll still have tons of chances to get seriously involved in research.