Transition from grad school to medical school

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Jul 22, 2009
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I am about to enter my first year at UT Southwestern in less than a month in the immunology PhD track. Throughout college I have been doing just research starting my sophomore year and I thought it would be the right path for me to take. Now I realized that research is not what I want to pursue anymore. Originally I thought about going to med school my freshman year, but I wasn’t being active in looking for volunteering work and since it was easy for me to find research, I just went with it. And now I am seriously considering about going to medical school. I am planning to go to UTSW for the first year just to see how I like it, but I know that going for MD would be satisfying for me.

I was just wondering if you guys can give me some advice about how to make the transition from grad school to medical school. I’m a biochemistry major with a 3.81 GPA and have published a paper. I haven’t really done volunteering experiences at hospitals nor shadowing physicians.

Here are my plans that I have thought of so far:
1) Go to graduate school for a year and then apply for medical school. In my first year I hope to shadow some physicians.
2) Get a masters (2 years) in immunology, within those two years, a year of volunteering and another year of shadowing, and then apply for medical school.
3) Continue through graduate school and ask the school if they will allow me to get an MD, which I think it’s risky.

Would shadowing a physician be sufficient get accepted to med school?

One thing I am worrying about is getting a recommendation letter from the PI in grad school. I’m afraid I won’t get a good letter because I haven’t been there for that long (assuming I’m in grad school for only one year).

Has anyone here been in this situation before and what are your advice, suggestions? Any tips on how to shadow physicians, because I know this is a little bit hard to do. I know I have a lot of questions because I am new to this. Thanks for helping!


Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting....
Moderator Emeritus
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Oct 12, 2004
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Welcome to SDN. :)

You should start by reading the sticky at the top of this forum, which will answer all of your questions and then some. In your case, I recommend starting with this one.

In general, you can search for threads on topics of interest by clicking on "search this forum" in the upper right hand of the forum page, then typing one or two key words in the box that appears. This helps avoid multiple threads on the same topic so that your thread won't be ignored.


"the anchor"
10+ Year Member
Jul 16, 2009
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As someone who left a phd program last December, my advice to you would be to kick ass in lab up until you can get a master's and if you're still interested, have a heart to heart discussion with your boss. I wish I couldve shadowed in grad school, but the chemistry kept me in lab til the wee hours.

I mightve lucked out, but my PI was pretty encouraging to pursue med school.

Either way, good luck! UTSW seemed like a pretty cool place to do bio research when I interviewed there a few years ago.