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UC Irvine MSTP or University of Michigan MD Only

Discussion in 'Allopathic School-Specific Discussions (<2017)' started by Lets Get Free, May 15, 2014.

  1. Lets Get Free

    Lets Get Free Big Member 7+ Year Member

    Aug 30, 2009
    Thousand Oaks, CA
    Thank you in advance for reading my situation:

    Accepted into UC Irvine MSTP program and University of Michigan MD only, with no financial aid (budget estimator ~70K/year).

    I've been doing research the last few years and think it would be hard to give up. I just love neuroscience and all the exciting basic science research that's being done these days. However I am really looking forward to going back to school, and would like to specialize (thinking Neurology, or something hands-on neuro-ish). What should I do!?!

    I love Michigan for the feeling I had there, the amazing hospital system and clinical opportunities, and the amazing research.

    I am from southern California (Los Angeles) and hope to work here later in life.

    Irvine, while not as established or highly-ranked in any way comparable to Michigan, is consistently getting better and better. There is a solid neuroscience research program that is also getting better, and a new eye institute, and the match list from this year looks great to me.

    I keep going back and forth and know I have to make up my mind. I do not mind moving somewhere else for med school. One benefit of staying in SoCal is that I can see my family more often, which may help keep me grounded and focused... Or maybe not...

    Does the difference in rankings (top ten vs. ~50th in country) make much of a difference? UM is 160+ yrs old while UCI is 50ish years old... If i do do the MD/PHD at UCI it would make sense that the rankings continue to rise a bit by the time I'm done...

    Anyways its seems to me a hard one to rationalize and my gut keeps changing its mind. Something I'm considering is going to UM and trying to apply internally to their MSTP.

    Thank you again for your time.
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  3. seeinghowitgoes

    seeinghowitgoes 5+ Year Member

    Jul 6, 2012
    I think the MD/PhD, given your academic interests, makes a lot more sense. When you throw in location and cost (0k vs 280k is big, and because you are interested in academic med this could be really important) it just pushes it more towards UCI in my opinion.

    Also, you mention neuro as a potential specialty, and unlike something like neuro surg, that's really not, relatively, all that competitive. So while Michigan has a better name overall, I don't know how much that really matters here - a higher ranking isn't always all that important for future prospects, and in this case, again just if it were me, it wouldn't outweight the pros of the MD/PhD option you've got.

    Congrats and good luck.
  4. Member011

    Member011 2+ Year Member

    Sep 25, 2011
    I don't know how difficult it is to get accepted into UMichigan's MSTP from within, but I would say your goals and interests are best aligned with an MSTP. You'll need the training you get from the PhD to be able to conduct basic research in the future. I do not think you'll regret the debt-free option of UCI in the future. Best of luck with your decision! Congrats!
  5. masaraksh

    masaraksh 5+ Year Member

    Sep 11, 2011
    MSTP. not even close.

    Debt free + will help you in your career as you will probably want to be able to get research grants
  6. Lets Get Free

    Lets Get Free Big Member 7+ Year Member

    Aug 30, 2009
    Thousand Oaks, CA
    Thank you all for the advice!

    Michigan says the success rates for internal applicants to the MSTP has been 50% in recent years.
  7. Lets Get Free

    Lets Get Free Big Member 7+ Year Member

    Aug 30, 2009
    Thousand Oaks, CA
    Anyone else have input? Thanks!
  8. plumazul

    plumazul ☮, ♥, & ♫ 5+ Year Member

    Dec 15, 2011
    :confused: You do realize that you're not just asking advice on which medical school to attend, but instead you are asking for input on what you want to do with your life?
    How can anyone else answer such a question? You can not assume you will get another chance at an MSTP. You must decide now.
    The life of a physician scientist is a "calling". It's difficult and requires sacrifice. Only you can answer your question.
    benjaminl1nus and Member011 like this.
  9. snowflakes

    snowflakes 2+ Year Member

    Jan 27, 2013
    OP, I got the impression that you are aiming for MD/PhD either way, just if you go to Michigan, you'll have to take the 50% chance of internal application to the MSTP program + lose the funding for the first 1-2 years if you do get accepted. You feel torn mainly because Michigan is a much stronger program than UCI, but UCI is guaranteed. Is this the case?

    OP, what happens if you go to Michigan and don't get funded for MSTP? Would you take a leave of absence and get a PhD then? The reason that MSTP is fully funded is because working as a physician-scientist pays a lot less than working as a full time clinician. It's supposed to give you the freedom to pursue research as a large part of your career. Minimizing your debt is a huge part of that. If you go to Michigan, best case scenario is that you transfer to MSTP after 1-2 years, which means you'll already have taken out 70-150k in loans, just for your pre-MSTP med school tuition + COL. This translates to 140-300k in payback (play around with the AAMC Medloan calculators if you don't believe me), which will be a lot on a researcher's salary! If you don't transfer to MSTP, and take time off to get a PhD, this will be very very expensive, as your interest on your first 2 years of loans will grow for an extra 4 years, and you'll be paying back more than double 280k (70*4). I think I read somewhere that NIH researcher salary is capped at 180k (which is your salary not to begin with, but after all the promotions). Can you imagine having to pay back possibly over 600k with that salary?

    If you are really committed to doing a lot of research later on in your career, I'd recommend picking UCI. It's possible to do research as an MD-only coming from Michigan, but you will be doing yourself a lot of favors as a future researcher by minimizing your debt, while getting the MD-PhD qualifications. That said, if you are not sure you want to have research as a large part of your career later on, then I'd say think very carefully. MD-PhD is absolutely NOT worth it just for the funding. But if you are committed to being a physician-scientist, you will be a lot freer to pursue research without having to worry about all the debt.
    WeCanOnlyTry likes this.
  10. Lets Get Free

    Lets Get Free Big Member 7+ Year Member

    Aug 30, 2009
    Thousand Oaks, CA
    Thank you all so much for the input! I've decided that I was correct in applying to the MSTP, and this is what i'll do! Thank you again!
    Member011 likes this.
  11. scrappysurfer

    scrappysurfer Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Jan 13, 2005
    San Diego, CA
    As a graduate of UCI MSTP, if you want to stay in neurosciences previous students have been quite successful. Also, the director Al Goldin is a steadfast advocate for our program and treats us as if we are his own children. In recent memory:
    1x Peds Neuro at UCSF
    1x Peds Neuro at Stanford
    1x Neurosurgery at Stanford
    1x Neuro at MGH
    1x Neurosurgery at USC
    1x ENT at UCLA
    When looking at the match list, you want to look at match list specific to MSTP.
    Also, as expressed above MSTP is a long road and not to be traveled for the "free ride" through med school. It will not feel free when your friends are graduated, married, buying houses, having children, and becoming attendings when you are still a med student. Do MSTP if you want to do RESEARCH. The lack of debt will permit you to take a lower paying academic job and still make ends meet. It will also give you the skill set to read a paper critically, design your own experiments, and the potential to build a research career in a very competitive environment.
  12. FalconSlice

    FalconSlice Intersection of CutCo, EdgeCom and InterSlice 5+ Year Member

    Feb 23, 2012
    I am an MSTP student at a top 20 institution, and I must say think VERY hard if doing an MD/PhD is what you REALLY want. If it is---brilliant! If you are somewhat hesitant, do some more thinking (and perhaps post in the Physician Scientist area as @Neuronix gives great advice). Why do I say this?

    Yes, free tuition + stipend, etc. sounds fantastic, but you will be paying for it with least 4 years that your classmates use to finish residencies, start fellowships, start families, buy houses, etc. when you might end up with your PhD and go back to medical school. I haven't met a single MSTP or MD/PhD student that has not, at least once, thought "why the hell did I do this program?" In the end, you shouldn't let money sway your decision as much as many of the people say it should as whatever debt you incur at a straight MD program might not equate to 4+ (indeterminate) years in your 20s that may or may not actually help you that much in the long run. Now, don't get me wrong: if you are positive you want to do the physician scientist route, that is fantastic. BUT be aware what the pros and cons of what your decision will be and if you will be happy with it during training and the future thereafter.
  13. plumazul

    plumazul ☮, ♥, & ♫ 5+ Year Member

    Dec 15, 2011
    The OP was accepted last application cycle and should have just finished his/her first semester at UCI-MSTP.

    :rolleyes: You must be talking to the wrong people.
  14. FalconSlice

    FalconSlice Intersection of CutCo, EdgeCom and InterSlice 5+ Year Member

    Feb 23, 2012
    Haha whoops. :oops:

    And, really? Most of these people are pretty well into the program---Where the social pains hurt. What year are you?

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