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switching institutions to do PhD portion of MSTP

Discussion in 'Physician Scientists' started by staples50, Apr 8, 2007.

  1. staples50

    staples50

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    Apr 8, 2007
    I was wondering other people's experiences on how flexible MST Programs are if a student wants to seriously pursue research with a PI at another institution (for the PhD portion)? Is this even a possibility, and if so, is it much more likely if the student is able to secure their own funding/fellowship? How does one even go about negotiating this arrangement? Thanks.
     
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  3. jjmack

    jjmack Senior Member 10+ Year Member

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    when i was an undergrad I knew one MSTP who was doing their PhD somewhere else. I have no idea how or why.
     
  4. ThatOne

    ThatOne New Member 2+ Year Member

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    Very difficult to do. The only cases I have heard of are due to the PI moving to the other institution after the PhD has begun, the PI getting ready to move to the MSTP institution, or through NIH's GPP program. The MSTP really wants the work you do to benefit their institution -- they'd need serious motivation to pay you to grace some other program with your thesis-work.
     
  5. staples50

    staples50

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    Apr 8, 2007
    what if the student is able to secure their own external funding (via grants, etc) such that it would not burden their current institution.
     
  6. Dr. MightyMouse

    Dr. MightyMouse 2+ Year Member

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    I think this will depend on the institution. I tried to get a similar arrangement, but the idea was shot down right away. However, they did say that one of my committee members could be from a different institution, just not my main advisor.
     
  7. Circumflex

    Circumflex Junior Member 10+ Year Member

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    I tried to do something similar and was shot down. However, like the previous poster said, one of my committee members was from a different institution and I would go to his lab to learn techniques.

    Maybe you could find a lab doing something close to what you are interested in doing, then use the lab at the other institution as a collaborator. You might be able to set up a cool new project that bridges two areas of research.
     
  8. Neuronix

    Neuronix Total nerd Administrator Physician PhD Faculty SDN Advisor 10+ Year Member

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    As several have already mentioned--MSTPs have a lot invested in you and as such are always going to be extremely reluctant to let go of you. To pay for your medical school component some of the funding comes from the NIH (allocated to the medical school) and some of the funding comes from the school. The school makes this investment most proximally to get you as a graduate student to bolster their own research.

    Now you're asking, what if you can secure your own funding? Since getting funding for graduate school is rarely an issue, it's the medical school funding you'd need to secure. Basically you're talking about ~$60,000/year of funding (based on $35k/year tuition, $25k/year stipend) for four years. There are very few grant agencies that would even consider such a request. You might be able to submit a F30, but not only do you have strong competition, I suspect they're going to ask the inevitable question of why you can't do the research you want to do at your home institution. MSTPs are selected in part because they have strong and broad research.

    If you have any ideas for funding mechanisms I'd be interested in hearing them. There are very few places MD/PhDs in training can apply to secure their own funding. The other option is to pay your own way for medical school. This is more of the unfunded MD/PhD route. MD programs are almost always fine with you taking as much time off as you want to do research and PhD programs are almost always happy to have you. But, do you really want to do a separate MD/PhD with you paying for the MD? Time to graduation will likely be longer, not to mention you'll have plenty of debt.
     
  9. staples50

    staples50

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    Apr 8, 2007
    Thanks for all the helpful responses... What if the student was willing to pay (potentially out of pocket) the additional expenses that the school incurred (that was not covered by NIH funding)? Would this be more palatable? I'm trying to envision a proposal that would result in a win-win situation for both the student and the faculty, such that no interpersonal relationships would be destroyed in the process.
     
  10. Dr.Watson

    Dr.Watson 2+ Year Member

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  11. staples50

    staples50

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    Apr 8, 2007
    How would one go about doing this LOA if one is currently already enrolled in a MST Program... I know that training in a lab at the institution I am currently enrolled at would remove any such headaches... however, at the same time, my success as a postdoc and faculty will be determined by the pre-doctoral training I obtain. If it is a money thing, that can always be taken care of (through loans and such), but if it something more intangible than that, I'd like to know before I negotiate the terms such that everyone is happy. I'd appreciate any feedback on the best way of approaching such a situation. Thanks for all your help guys!
     
  12. Neuronix

    Neuronix Total nerd Administrator Physician PhD Faculty SDN Advisor 10+ Year Member

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    You can't for this. It's a LOA from medical school to do a PhD. You're already enrolled in a PhD program. It wasn't clear from your earlier posts whether you were enrolled in a program already.

    It is something more intangible and Dr. Watson already said why. You signed up for MD/PhD as a package. If you quit the PhD program and go somewhere else, you're essentially quitting your PhD program. Program directors work hard to put together an integrated MSTP to attract the best students to work at their institutions. By doing your PhD elsewhere you're essentially telling them their program isn't good enough for you, even though you've already enrolled in it.

    There is no way to negotiate terms such that everyone is happy. In all likelihood, your program is not going to be happy with you even bringing this up. It's unlikely you have any chance at this without some other compelling reason you haven't mentioned yet. But, if you're serious about this you'll have to talk to them. None of us are program directors and we can't speak for every program director, but essentially if your goal in posting is to gauge the resistance to this possibility--it is high. Very high.
     
  13. greg12345

    greg12345 New Member 2+ Year Member

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    Why don't you just go to your program director and slap him/her in the face, b/c that is basically what your request is, i.e. "this institution is not good enough for me to get my PhD at". The only time I have seen it allowed is when someone's spouse happens to be at an institution far far away. I doubt it is going to happen, suck it up and find the best advisor/project available. In all reality your research training/pubs during your fellowship or post-doc probably carries more weight than your PhD.

    I always recommend prospective MSTP'ers to pick programs based on the qualities/opportunities for research, not the medical school curriculum/etc. Med school is such a crap shoot and you can probably get a decent medical education as long as you put the effort in at almost major academic medical center.
     

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