Doctor D-95

2+ Year Member
Apr 8, 2017
3
4
Status
Pre-Medical
Hello everyone,


So I am a senior undergraduate student who is a black male who will be applying to MSTP programs next year.


This November I will be presenting some psychological research that I have done in the form of a poster at the ABCT conference in San Diego. However, there is also a conference specific for MD/PhD applicants and students going on at the same time. I would have to leave the same day I present my poster in San Diego in order to make it in time for SEMS (the MD/PhD conference), which will make me miss out on a lot of the content at ABCT that I will have paid for.


The main reason for wanting to go to the SEMS conference is to network, and also to have a MD/PhD conference to place onto my CV. However, is this a good enough reason for me to make sure an effort to go? By that I mean how much does networking help as an undergraduate student? And how much of an impact does attending that type of confrence make?


In my mind I think it may be worth it. One of the keynote speakers works for the NIH as is the Section Chief of the Neurogenetics Branch of National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). And the other is the MSTP Director of Mount Saini. I plan to apply this Dec for a position at the NIH in a neuroscience lab for my gap year and I have applied to the PREP program at Mount Saini and I am applying to their MSTP program. I have in mind to speak to them at a point during the conference, comment on their talk and then segway into my ambitions and plans to apply to their programs. I’d do this with hopes that it would increase my chances or potentially score me a lab to do research in for my gap year. Is this a realistic outcome or will the impact introducing myself will have be essentially negligible?


Hopefully this doesn’t seem like I am just trying to pad my CV or look for an “easy” way in (which I am not) I am just trying to approach my senior year in a methodical way to make myself the most competitive applicant that I can with the time I have left.
 

StilgarMD

7+ Year Member
Jan 1, 2011
277
37
Status
MD/PhD Student
psychological research

approach my senior year in a methodical way to make myself the most competitive applicant that I can with the time I have left.
The best methods for being a competitive applicant are Having a good MCAT score, a good GPA, and strong research. I don't know how MSTP admins feel about psych research since the overwhelming majority of what I've seen of people applying is typically wet lab stuff or bioinformatics. I think you've got the right idea about joining an NIH group and getting experience, but much of your NIH experience won't go on your AMCAS since you'll have just arrived when the application opens, though it will be an asset on the interview trail to talk about.

I don't know how much networking matters at this stage, and whether you can put "Attendee" to a conference on your CV (this is news to me), but if you think it will help you feel more prepared for applications, it doesn't hurt. the ABCT stuff is a "sunk cost" if you've already paid for it, so don't let that hold you back. But again - by far the most important factors are your MCAT, GPA, and Research.
 
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Doctor D-95

2+ Year Member
Apr 8, 2017
3
4
Status
Pre-Medical
The best methods for being a competitive applicant are Having a good MCAT score, a good GPA, and strong research. I don't know how MSTP admins feel about psych research since the overwhelming majority of what I've seen of people applying is typically wet lab stuff or bioinformatics. I think you've got the right idea about joining an NIH group and getting experience, but much of your NIH experience won't go on your AMCAS since you'll have just arrived when the application opens, though it will be an asset on the interview trail to talk about.

I don't know how much networking matters at this stage, and whether you can put "Attendee" to a conference on your CV (this is news to me), but if you think it will help you feel more prepared for applications, it doesn't hurt. the ABCT stuff is a "sunk cost" if you've already paid for it, so don't let that hold you back. But again - by far the most important factors are your MCAT, GPA, and Research.
Thanks for the response! I was in NYC last month and had a chance to meet with someone on the leadership of a MSTP I'm NYC. They recommended that I add in my application that I have been accepted into xyz program when I apply to schools to let them know that I will have more experience prior to interviews. I will be accepted into a NIH or PREP program before I submit my applications, assuming I get in.

And I am aware that the main things schools look at are GPA, MCAT, and Research. Thankfully, I got into a lab at a local school so that will be a year plus I'm also on several other smaller projects. But I've really made an emphasis recently on doing the "little things" that can help. My GPA is a 3.65 and I'm trying to raise it and I'm preparing for my mcat and I have research going on but I feel like I need more... like I need that one final straw to push me over the edge of wait listed or denied to the side of a interview. I do have extra curriculars (president of the premedical club at my school, part of two honor societies etc) but I still feel like I'm missing something. So I was thinking that presenting a project and potentially getting an award would help. Along with going to the conference. I was told you could mention conferences which you attended, at least as an undergraduate. Although the professor who told me this may have misinformed. Hopefully I'm disillusioned and my plans have some merit lol. If I am though please let me know, I want to make the best use of my time possible (I may make a thread going forward asking what I can do strategically to improve my chances).
 

StilgarMD

7+ Year Member
Jan 1, 2011
277
37
Status
MD/PhD Student
Thanks for the response! I was in NYC last month and had a chance to meet with someone on the leadership of a MSTP I'm NYC. They recommended that I add in my application that I have been accepted into xyz program when I apply to schools to let them know that I will have more experience prior to interviews. I will be accepted into a NIH or PREP program before I submit my applications, assuming I get in.

And I am aware that the main things schools look at are GPA, MCAT, and Research. Thankfully, I got into a lab at a local school so that will be a year plus I'm also on several other smaller projects. But I've really made an emphasis recently on doing the "little things" that can help. My GPA is a 3.65 and I'm trying to raise it and I'm preparing for my mcat and I have research going on but I feel like I need more... like I need that one final straw to push me over the edge of wait listed or denied to the side of a interview. I do have extra curriculars (president of the premedical club at my school, part of two honor societies etc) but I still feel like I'm missing something. So I was thinking that presenting a project and potentially getting an award would help. Along with going to the conference. I was told you could mention conferences which you attended, at least as an undergraduate. Although the professor who told me this may have misinformed. Hopefully I'm disillusioned and my plans have some merit lol. If I am though please let me know, I want to make the best use of my time possible (I may make a thread going forward asking what I can do strategically to improve my chances).
Honestly, sounds like you're doing a great job. Don't spread yourself too thin. Making those "several smaller projects" and this new research work for you are big things that can help you out - gives you something to talk about during interviews. Mentioning a conference may be fine, but ultimately, can you really imagine someone looking through your application and seeing this line and being substantially impacted by it? At best its ice on the cake, at worst it means nothing, but you should be weary of trading in something which supplements for something of substance. Research is substance. The more you bring to the table, the better off you'll be. Realize that your time and cognitive resources are limited, and you need to see them like investments, and think "What can I do with these that will have the best return on my investment?" - I think in your case that is research. (Unless its your dedicated MCAT study period or you're not getting good grades, it will be that way most of the time).
 
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