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taking time off?

Discussion in 'Physician Scientists' started by Athena25, Jun 17, 2002.

  1. Athena25

    Athena25 Junior Member

    Jun 13, 2002
    hey, i know i posted this question in the pre-med forum, but i particularly want to hear from md/phd'ers about this question. would any of you recommend taking a year or two off before medical school? to work? travel? etc? before diving right into 7+ years of medical school, or is it better to just stick it through and finish on time? what about raising a family?
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  3. Spudster

    Spudster Member 7+ Year Member

    Apr 22, 2002
    Palo Alto
    I ended up taking the proverbial year off before MD/PhD, though that is a long story. I think it was the right choice for me since it allowed me to really find my passion-area of research. My wife and I also had a child during the "time off" and it worked out really well since I could stay home with my son two days each week once my wife went back to work. It had allowed me to form a bond with him that I don't think I could have otherwise.

    It certainly won't hurt your application as long as you are doing something useful. As it turned out, I have been working in what will be my thesis lab, so it will hopefully put me that much further along in my work - no rotations, no fumbling around as you learn a new lab, no struggling to get a project off the ground with cloning, etc. I would not take time off to travel or something of the sort, but you'll find that many of your fellow applicants will not be straight from school. Many will have worked in industry or done something interesting for a few years.
  4. jot


    i was deadset on applying to fulbright and md/phd programs simultaneously; hah i wrote the fulbright application (for kenya - to do a historeography of public health and aids during the 80's) only to find out (yesterday well after i submitted my app) that you cannot defer a nih mstp fellowship. kinda sucked but if you aren't applying simultaneously it seems like a great idea. of course, that is, if you are doign something "useful" (Whatever that maybe). goodluck though.
  5. Simon

    Simon Member 7+ Year Member

    Jun 2, 2002

    From where did you find out that an NIH MSTP cannot be deferred? That's a real bummer!
  6. Bikini Princess

    Bikini Princess 7+ Year Member

    May 26, 2002
    </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by jot:
    <strong>i was deadset on applying to fulbright and md/phd programs simultaneously; ..only to find out (yesterday well after i submitted my app) that you cannot defer a nih mstp fellowship.</strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">jot: i've heard that as far as deferments go, "don't believe everything you read". Often schools/programs have an clear, open policy of strictly no deferments. However, privately they are willing to lend an ear to special cases, especially if the deferee is doing something valuable during the time-off.

    For you, this would certainly be true - a med school might actually want to defer you, if you do get the fullbright fellowship, because it will add to the prestige & variety of their class. And I'm sure the adcom can pull strings for you if the MSTP com has a proverbial stick up their okole. :)

    Hope this helps!!
  7. jot


    hey thanks - i'll look into it. its an NIH rule, not a mstp/school rule. however, i guess it would be possible for someone to promise a spot in the next years class. hmm. better start asking around. cheers!
  8. Athena25

    Athena25 Junior Member

    Jun 13, 2002
    would you guys recommend deferring or applying later? by applying later, i would probably do something cool and in that way enhance my application.
  9. jot


    if there is something you have in mind i would apply later. the only problem i can think off is if you are in a far-away locale (kenya would have been my case) then interviewing/application stuff would be a bit of an issue of you intended to enter right after that. otherwise its an excellent time to pursue such an opportunity. if i had thought about this earlier, i would have definately delayed a year to do the fulbright - it is most certainly worth it. i would also caution against doing stuff like this "For the application" - though it definately could help, a year is a long time, and even longer if you are not enjoying it or regretting the experience. but there are multitudes of opportunities (teach across america, fellowships etc...) so keep a look out and goodluck.
  10. none

    none 1K Member 10+ Year Member

    Jul 27, 2001
    Anybody got a link verifying this no deferral of MSTP grants? I just don't believe it. It's very possible that singular schools won't allow deferals, but I really doubt the NIH has anything to say about it.
  11. Original

    Original Ogori-Magongo Warrior 7+ Year Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    dunno about it but I know people who deferred WashU and UChicago.
  12. jot


    i think the deal is that you/school can't defer money from the nih directly - but the school can "promise" you a spot in the next years class. i'll find the link, i found it somewhere in nigms a few days ago.
  13. neurotiger

    neurotiger Member 10+ Year Member

    Jun 1, 2003
    Anyone know if this is still true? I've heard rumors about someone doing it at Cornell, but not much else. I guess that the length of the program really detracts from people wanting to take a year off. I've already applied and will definitely accept a position if a deferral is impossible, but I'm thinking about applying for Teach for America otherwise...
  14. Habari

    Habari Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Feb 19, 2003
    hey - funny to see my posts from a long time ago-- now i'm singin' a different tune:

    you can _definately_ defer at a most schools [can't say with certainty about all], but try to let them know as soon as possible after acceptance [this may not be possible if you got in late from the waitlist - but this would go for med school people too]. you are right, there is someone who defered entrance into our mstp class - she is teaching out of the country for a year and will entering with your wave. most schools do want to know what you are doing, just so you aren't simply hanging out at home or something.

    furthermore, i think if you can defer you should definatley do it - there is no better time to do it than after college, and there is so much to gain. the md/phd is a lifetime program, and a year isn't going to make a difference with regards to starting. on the other hand, if you get a unique experience, or just take a break for that year, who knows how it could enrich what you do next?
  15. GraC_undr_PrsR

    GraC_undr_PrsR Member 10+ Year Member

    Jul 20, 2003
    Hello... I'm in the "taking a year off" boat -- though, I must admit I did not originally intend to pause after college. About a year ago, my college advisor and an established alum encouraged me to find a spot in an MD/PhD program before taking time off. Ignoring my own misgivings, I set off on a journey to apply even after the deadline for the health professions committee at my college had passed. Remarkably, the committee read my file and crafted an excellent recommendation (or so I've heard).
    Well, the twist goes: when I planned to sit for the August MCAT, it was postponed at my test site so I had two and a half more weeks to ponder about going to MD/PhD right away. In that time, I made some major decisions: 1) I wanna do more research on these institutions I'm considering spending my 20's 2) I need more international experience, not for some stupid application blank but because I have not seen anything outside of the United States outside of some hit and miss international news stories...

    Point: Taking time off is a good thing. It's a little stressful now though not knowing exactly what I am going to do. I'm in the process of applying for a Rhodes (if I pursue a D. Phil. in England I will probably go straight to medical school afterward instead of MD/PhD though). In case that doesn't work out, I've compiled a list of fellowships (abroad as well as national)...

    Good luck to others who are taking the road less traveled.
  16. jankanator

    jankanator 7+ Year Member

    Jul 24, 2001
    Palo Alto, CA
    I have also recently joined the "year off" group. I was definitely gunning to apply this year since I was a freshman and all my ducks were in a row, but then I decided to stop! I had similar reasons as GraC_undr_PrsR. It was a hard decision to wait a year, but I think the right one. Good to know I'm not alone!

    I'd be great to hear from anyone else that is making this "brief pause" in their education.

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