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I was wondering if it was possible to transition from a ph.d program in the biomedical science to a MD/PHD program at the same school? I have been accepted into phd programs at medical schools that also offer the combined degree program, and was curious if it would be possible to later apply and transfer to the combined medical scientist degree track?

Thanks!
 

QofQuimica

Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting....
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I was wondering if it was possible to transition from a ph.d program in the biomedical science to a MD/PHD program at the same school? I have been accepted into phd programs at medical schools that also offer the combined degree program, and was curious if it would be possible to later apply and transfer to the combined medical scientist degree track?

Thanks!
It is possible at some places. As far as I remember: Penn, Albert Einstein and Northwestern accept applications from current PhD students in their first year (some or all of these may also accept applications from second years, but I can't remember for sure). I'm probably missing some programs.

The requirements are identical both ways: MCAT, UGPA, clinical & volunteer experience, research etc. In addition, one or more letters may be required from within the university - rotation PIs if you're first year, and your thesis mentor if 2nd year.

The downside to doing this would be that your options for MD-PhD are very limited once you matriculate into a PhD program. Few programs consider applicants who are already PhD students, and so your only option might be the program at that university. If you're quite sure you want to pursue the dual degree, you might not want to limit your options.

I also agree with Q. Since you haven't started, try deferring your PhD admission by a year, get all the prerequisites done, and apply to MD-PhD programs asap - I think the AMCAS application opens in June.
 
Apr 24, 2009
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It's sometimes possible to switch, but not very common. Since you haven't even started school yet, you may be better off time-wise and aggravation-wise by sitting out this year and applying next year to MD/PhD, rather than trying to do the PhD-to-MD route. What are your grades and MCAT scores like?
My overall GPA is 3.41 and my science GPA is 3.35, with a 34 on the MCAT (12 VR, 11 BS, 11 PS).
The problem with sitting out a year is having go through the process of applying to grad school again in a year or so if I don't get into a MD/PHD program next year. Plus, I wasn't sure if completing my first year of classes in the doctoral program with above-average grades might compensate for my lower undergraduate GPA.
 

QofQuimica

Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting....
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My overall GPA is 3.41 and my science GPA is 3.35, with a 34 on the MCAT (12 VR, 11 BS, 11 PS).
Your stats are fine if you were applying MD-only, but I don't know how competitive you'd be for MD/PhD.
The problem with sitting out a year is having go through the process of applying to grad school again in a year or so if I don't get into a MD/PHD program next year. Plus, I wasn't sure if completing my first year of classes in the doctoral program with above-average grades might compensate for my lower undergraduate GPA.
The only way getting good grades in grad school will help compensate for your UG GPA is if you do an SMP (special masters program). These are programs intended for people who have good MCAT scores and need some GPA rehabilitation. You take med school classes with the med students, and it's high risk, high reward. Doing well can help you get an in at the affiliated med school, and doing poorly may dig you a hole so deep that you won't ever be able to climb out of it. IMO, your GPA is too high to make it worth doing an SMP, at least for MD-only. I don't know how MD/PhD programs view SMPs, so I'll leave that for someone else to comment on if anyone knows.

I want to caution you that you should *not* go to grad school with the idea of using it as a stepping stone for med school, *especially* with the plan of dropping out in the middle of the program if you manage to get an MD acceptance. Adcoms prefer to have people complete their degrees--we don't want someone to get a year or two into med school and then skip out on us just like they did in grad school. Also, your PI may be rather unhappy with you if you bail early, and you need a LOR from him/her for your med school app. Burn that bridge at your peril.

Assuming you are sure you definitely want an MD, here are some realistic pathways you should consider:

1) Do a regular research MS, which would typically run anywhere from 1-3 years. Spend this time preparing to apply either MD-only or MD/PhD. Benefits are that you'd get some significant research experience and hopefully a strong research LOR from your PI. However, the MS may not take any time off your PhD, and you may not get funding. Definitely ask about that.

2) Take a glide year and use it to apply MD-only. Your stats are high enough that you should be reasonably competitive for MD programs, assuming you have good ECs, LORs, essays, etc. Once you get into medical school, you can add on a PhD if you want. It is *much* easier to go MD-to-PhD than it is to go PhD-to-MD. The downside of this is that part or all of your med school may not be paid for.

3) Complete your PhD and then apply to med school. This is what I did. While possible, it's probably the least desirable of the three paths I'm laying out here. Getting into med school doesn't get magically easier just because you have a PhD, and you will still need to do all of the same things (shadowing, etc.) that trad premeds have to do. Doing separate degrees adds a lot of time to your path. Also, you will almost certainly have to pay for your entire medical school.

If it were me, I'd apply both MD and MD/PhD this summer and find a job for this year, preferably in research. If I didn't get into MD/PhD but did get into MD, I'd look into transferring into the MD/PhD program once I got to med school.
 

u2psalm40

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it would be so much easier to go MD--> mD/phd than phd--> md/phd.

you'd have to ask yourself if you're willing to go md only and then get into the md/phd program from there.

from what i've seen, many students go into phD programs secretly hoping to get into the md/phd program, only to find out that the much steeper mountain is md admissions. which doesn't get easier after 1-2 app non-matriculating cycles.

my advice: IF don't get md/phd take an md spot (if fortunate enough to get that..) Doors to phd open up after that; hopefully in mstp. but nothing would stop you from doing a phd (phd is still paid for by nih..)
 

u2psalm40

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also i agree with QofQuimica's above post. it lays out the options well...

good luck!
 

Shifty B

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it would be so much easier to go MD--> mD/phd than phd--> md/phd.

you'd have to ask yourself if you're willing to go md only and then get into the md/phd program from there.

from what i've seen, many students go into phD programs secretly hoping to get into the md/phd program, only to find out that the much steeper mountain is md admissions. which doesn't get easier after 1-2 app non-matriculating cycles.

my advice: IF don't get md/phd take an md spot (if fortunate enough to get that..) Doors to phd open up after that; hopefully in mstp. but nothing would stop you from doing a phd (phd is still paid for by nih..)
This is definitely true. It is much easier to go from MD into the MD/PhD program than from a PhD program. Often spots will open up when someone decides not to complete the PhD or not to return to medical school, and it's more a matter of whether there are spots available than about competing with the hundreds of new applicants. If you're applying from a PhD program you're probably lumped in with all the other candidates.

If you are sure about wanting the MD, I agree with the posters above who believe it might be least difficult to apply to MD and MD/PhD programs for next year and avoid trying to go the PhD to MD route. It can be done, but it may not be the best.

I think your stats are reasonable, although not outstanding, and should give you a chance at some spots. Graduate grades will not help you in terms of your application, as most people are aware that grades in graduate courses are much easier than undergrad courses. In most grad courses I would say the grade distribution is something like A-50%, B-40%, C-10%.