top programs/research/lifestyle/children

Discussion in 'Neurology' started by calcar avis, Dec 14, 2005.

  1. calcar avis

    calcar avis New Member

    Dec 14, 2005
    Likes Received:
    I have interviewed at Partners, BIDMC, Hopkins, Stanford, Cornell and have Penn and WUSTL coming up. I have small children, and my primary interest is in research. Both my parents and my wife's parents live on the East Coast, hence the preponderance of East Coast schools. I am going crazy trying to figure out how to weigh the relative importance of reputation, lifestyle, caliber of fellow residents, and clear pathways for clinician-scientist careers.

    I would be very curious to hear impressions of others who have interviewed at these places or, if a resident or junior attending for some reason happens to read these forums, to hear their feedback as well.

    MGH is incredible, but gives the aura of boot camp, I am not sure I feel like drinking from a firehose for three years.

    Stanford has excellent research and probably the best infrastructure for translational research in the country, with the MIT-Harvard system close by. It is not considered to be in the same tier of the other schools- the question is whether or not this is relevant given a committment to a research-oriented career. Some would say this is your one chance, so go bust a gut. Others would say, your children are only young once and if you're not going to be seeing patients every day and are going to function as a quintenary caregiver, live it up under the eucalyptus trees.

    Cornell seems to have strong clinical training, but no engineering or translational infrastructure- it does seem to be awash in wealth, which might translate into research dollars. The main problem is that the training appears nearly as grueling as MGH, not equally so, but up there, with more months of q3 neuro-ICU than all the other programs except MGH. Again, neuro-ICU is very cool, it's just I'd prefer to see my kids if I can meet the board reqs in another manner.

    So if anybody has impressions of these schools, or if anybody also has kids and is committed to research and has puzzled this out also, please add to the forum. Cheers.
  2. Bonobo

    Bonobo Senior Member
    5+ Year Member

    May 27, 2004
    Likes Received:
    Congratulaions on your exellent interviews. I interviewed at these programs, and had different, but relevant family issues to think about as well. I would PM you, but figure this might be a useful discussion to have in public.

    In terms of finding a program with strong research potential, you probably cannot go wrong with any of them, and which would be the top (aside from MGH/BGW which is just huge in every way) highly depends on what area of research you are interested in. Neuro-onc? Cornell is a clear winner. Epilepsy? Stanford. It pays to research who is where.

    This is not your only chance to develop a translational research career. I had a long discussion with the chair at one of the top programs specifically on this point. He described to me how he and his wife often picked periods when one would be roaring ahead and the other would help take care of the family, and vice-a-versa. Plenty of people do their initial door-opening research during fellowships and as young assistant professors. In fact, much less so than during residency. And getting fellowships and professorships at top-top places is feasible from any of the programs you listed.

    I think you need to consider your time more than anything else. More than quality of mentorship. Quality of other residents. Reputation. Sunshine. Etc. Of course, these factors are important, but with three children, where are you going to find time to do meaningful research and develop clinical expertise in a subspecialty of neurology? Help from grandparents might be key! Money might also be a factor. The Bay and Boston are *very* expensive while Baltimore and St. Louis are cheap enough that you can afford a house, cars, and education/child care without spending even more of your time moonlighting. These are things that I have thought about, and am glad that I thought about them in the end.

    In terms of specifics, I felt that Stanford was much stronger than MGH in terms of translational research development for residents simply because the medical hospital and school are on the same campus, and well, I love Stanford neuroscience. However, the clinical program is not quite as strong, and the work load is not as light as one might think given its small size and multiple hospitals to attend to. Don't neglect Penn and wustl by any means. Both are very large and complete programs that have many top mentors both scientifically and clinically. They are also possibly better than most places at developing research careers simply b/c of the breadth of their resources allowing adventure into many different areas (particularly WashU).

    I hope that my opinions are somewhat helpful. They are opinions of course, and I hope that others will opine with me.


Share This Page