achamess

10+ Year Member
Jul 6, 2007
314
31
261
www.drwillbe.blogspot.com
Status
MD/PhD Student
So I imagine there are quite a few of us on here who've been waiting anxiously to hear from UCSD MSTP. I don't know if anybody has some info, but rumor has it that decisions should be coming out very soon, like in the next week or two. So I thought I'd start this group for people to talk about the program and give each other support as we wait in suspense.
 

mittymark

10+ Year Member
Jun 16, 2007
10
0
0
Status
Pre-Medical
I'm in the same boat but I don't see how we can support each other really
 
OP
A

achamess

10+ Year Member
Jul 6, 2007
314
31
261
www.drwillbe.blogspot.com
Status
MD/PhD Student
Well, others have started similar threads where information is shared, fears assuaged, kind words offered. I get your point, but this is just for fun. Good luck.

I'm in the same boat but I don't see how we can support each other really
 

mittymark

10+ Year Member
Jun 16, 2007
10
0
0
Status
Pre-Medical
Ok I see your point.

Don't worry you'll get in. Everything's gonna be great.
 

harvman11

7+ Year Member
Aug 12, 2009
155
0
141
Status
MD/PhD Student
Well I got rejected from UCSD a couple of weeks ago, so I imagine you guys are at least in the "small pool" or something like that... Maybe they're just hoping the suspense will make you like them more!
 

mittymark

10+ Year Member
Jun 16, 2007
10
0
0
Status
Pre-Medical
Well sorry to hear, but congrats on Michigan! I didn't even get an interview there. What a crap shoot.
 

mittymark

10+ Year Member
Jun 16, 2007
10
0
0
Status
Pre-Medical
And yeah the suspsense IS making me like them more. God damn psychology
 

Shifty B

10+ Year Member
Aug 13, 2008
452
97
271
Status
Attending Physician
I have a funny story about UCSD that will make you guys feel better. Years ago when I was applying, I had my interview and then around this time I was waiting for a reply. Around March I got a single page letter in the mail from UCSD, opened it and it was a rejection letter. No big deal, I just brushed it off.

Then, in mid-April, I get another letter from UCSD. By this time, I had already accepted a position at another program and was happy enough. So I'm wondering what this letter could be. I open it up, and "Bam", another rejection letter. It was literally a copy of the same letter from March with a different date.

I could never really figure that one out. I don't know if they decided to send another letter just in case I was going to show up in August. I thought maybe it was a rejection from the MD-only path, but it was the same letter and I hadn't really interviewed for that.

In any case, in all likelihood the worst than can happen to you is you can be rejected once!
 
OP
A

achamess

10+ Year Member
Jul 6, 2007
314
31
261
www.drwillbe.blogspot.com
Status
MD/PhD Student
Boy, talk about kicking a dog when's he's down (although, you didn't seem to mind too much :)).

Thanks for sharing your story.

I have a funny story about UCSD that will make you guys feel better. Years ago when I was applying, I had my interview and then around this time I was waiting for a reply. Around March I got a single page letter in the mail from UCSD, opened it and it was a rejection letter. No big deal, I just brushed it off.

Then, in mid-April, I get another letter from UCSD. By this time, I had already accepted a position at another program and was happy enough. So I'm wondering what this letter could be. I open it up, and "Bam", another rejection letter. It was literally a copy of the same letter from March with a different date.

I could never really figure that one out. I don't know if they decided to send another letter just in case I was going to show up in August. I thought maybe it was a rejection from the MD-only path, but it was the same letter and I hadn't really interviewed for that.

In any case, in all likelihood the worst than can happen to you is you can be rejected once!
 

Shifty B

10+ Year Member
Aug 13, 2008
452
97
271
Status
Attending Physician
Boy, talk about kicking a dog when's he's down (although, you didn't seem to mind too much :)).

Thanks for sharing your story.
Haha! Well, I did care at the time. I thought it was pretty f-ing obnoxious that they couldn't even keep track of who they had already rejected.

But, it was pretty late that I already got this second letter. I had already heard from every place I applied and decided where I was going. That softened the blow a little bit.

The biggest thing that softens the blow is that this was almost 10 years ago!
 

z31

7+ Year Member
Jun 26, 2009
123
0
141
Status
Pre-Medical
Didn't they say mid-Feb? Being notified late makes me like UCSD less, not more! It makes them seem disorganized...
 
OP
A

achamess

10+ Year Member
Jul 6, 2007
314
31
261
www.drwillbe.blogspot.com
Status
MD/PhD Student
Didn't they say mid-Feb? Being notified late makes me like UCSD less, not more! It makes them seem disorganized...
Hey Z,
I hear ya. The characterization of UCSD MSTP as disorganized seems to be the consensus view, but if that's all there is to complain about, I could take that :D

Hopefully some closure will come soon.
 

alacast

10+ Year Member
Dec 10, 2008
125
0
0
Indiana
Status
Pre-Medical
How big of a concern should a disorganized MSTP be for a student? Practically speaking, 99% of the time the people and institutions you'll be interacting with at the university aren't the MSTP, but the medical school or the graduate program. However, I would think that having the MSTP to help you at certain specific moments in your educational path could prove critical, but I might be wrong about that.

Current MSTP students! How much does your MSTP's organizational talent impact your life and development? Any current UCSD MSTPs to comment on this? I suppose even a generally disorganized program can still be effective at helping you out from time to time.
 
OP
A

achamess

10+ Year Member
Jul 6, 2007
314
31
261
www.drwillbe.blogspot.com
Status
MD/PhD Student
How big of a concern should a disorganized MSTP be for a student? Practically speaking, 99% of the time the people and institutions you'll be interacting with at the university aren't the MSTP, but the medical school or the graduate program. However, I would think that having the MSTP to help you at certain specific moments in your educational path could prove critical, but I might be wrong about that.

Current MSTP students! How much does your MSTP's organizational talent impact your life and development? Any current UCSD MSTPs to comment on this? I suppose even a generally disorganized program can still be effective at helping you out from time to time.
I'm interested in hearing what current MSTP students have to say too.

You're right, Alacast, that most of our interactions won't be directly with the MSTP. But I can think of several instances where a 'well-organized' MSTP administration would be critical; namely, in keeping the students aware of requirements and commitments they must fulfill during the 8 years of training; advising come residency time, helping out setting up rotations during summers, and importantly, advocating for you when and if you're in a rough spot with your PI (i.e., he's resistant to letting you graduate). I think these expectations are pretty reasonable, but maybe I'm wrong.
 

Shifty B

10+ Year Member
Aug 13, 2008
452
97
271
Status
Attending Physician
So, as a former MSTP student I will chime in. The MSTP's organizational team (usually a program director, a couple assistant PDs, program coordinator, and secretary) are extremely important. As an MD/PhD students, you are caught in this nether-world where no one except your own program knows exactly what you are up to and your requirements are. These people are going to be the ones who help you navigate the day-to-day of your next 8 years. Key roles for these people include:

1) helping your program stay funded


Not much more explanation needed, but for your program to continue to exist the NIH requires a lot of paperwork.

2) recruiting future MSTP students who will ultimately make you look good or bad


An awesome PC can help your program recruit better students. Better students become better residents and ultimately faculty. These are the connections that will help your career.

3) making sure you get paid (in a timely fashion)

Paying MSTP students is a financial quagmire. Departmental funds, PI grants, medical school slush fund, etc. MSTP students are paid from a variety of sources during their 8 year career. And this is at programs that have NIH T32 grants! Just wait until that time that the end of the month passes and somehow that direct deposit never showed up. The difference between paying your mortgage on time and not is them getting the situation rectified.

4) coordinating your requirements through multiple departments/programs

Who figures out how much PhD credit you get for medical school? Or what happens when your PhD department changes your degree requirements while you are in medical school? These people can save you a lot of time by doing this stuff for you.

5) dealing with any unexpected problems which arise during your 8 years

This is a big one. For instance, my PI left the institution during my PhD years. My program arranged for me to keep the same PhD committee and project while changing advisors and staying at my current institution. This involved vetting a new PI at the institution and transferring a grant. My program handled the paperwork without a flaw.

My friend, on the other hand, also had a PI who left. He wanted to stay with his PI and project but get his degree from the current institution and come back for M3 and M4 years. The program made it happen.

#1-2 are indirectly important to your future, as they will help maintain the value of your degree. #3-5 are directly important and will affect your day-to-day. All this being said, most programs have good leadership at both the faculty and administrative levels. I wouldn't somehow rearrange your preference too much based on perceived organization, but a program that just can't manage to get it together can cause problems for you. Other than my 2 PhD mentors, the single person who had the biggest impact on my 8 years was the program coordinator. Keep that in mind.
 
OP
A

achamess

10+ Year Member
Jul 6, 2007
314
31
261
www.drwillbe.blogspot.com
Status
MD/PhD Student
So, as a former MSTP student I will chime in. The MSTP's organizational team (usually a program director, a couple assistant PDs, program coordinator, and secretary) are extremely important. As an MD/PhD students, you are caught in this nether-world where no one except your own program knows exactly what you are up to and your requirements are. These people are going to be the ones who help you navigate the day-to-day of your next 8 years. Key roles for these people include:

1) helping your program stay funded


Not much more explanation needed, but for your program to continue to exist the NIH requires a lot of paperwork.

2) recruiting future MSTP students who will ultimately make you look good or bad


An awesome PC can help your program recruit better students. Better students become better residents and ultimately faculty. These are the connections that will help your career.

3) making sure you get paid (in a timely fashion)

Paying MSTP students is a financial quagmire. Departmental funds, PI grants, medical school slush fund, etc. MSTP students are paid from a variety of sources during their 8 year career. And this is at programs that have NIH T32 grants! Just wait until that time that the end of the month passes and somehow that direct deposit never showed up. The difference between paying your mortgage on time and not is them getting the situation rectified.

4) coordinating your requirements through multiple departments/programs

Who figures out how much PhD credit you get for medical school? Or what happens when your PhD department changes your degree requirements while you are in medical school? These people can save you a lot of time by doing this stuff for you.

5) dealing with any unexpected problems which arise during your 8 years

This is a big one. For instance, my PI left the institution during my PhD years. My program arranged for me to keep the same PhD committee and project while changing advisors and staying at my current institution. This involved vetting a new PI at the institution and transferring a grant. My program handled the paperwork without a flaw.

My friend, on the other hand, also had a PI who left. He wanted to stay with his PI and project but get his degree from the current institution and come back for M3 and M4 years. The program made it happen.

#1-2 are indirectly important to your future, as they will help maintain the value of your degree. #3-5 are directly important and will affect your day-to-day. All this being said, most programs have good leadership at both the faculty and administrative levels. I wouldn't somehow rearrange your preference too much based on perceived organization, but a program that just can't manage to get it together can cause problems for you. Other than my 2 PhD mentors, the single person who had the biggest impact on my 8 years was the program coordinator. Keep that in mind.
Wow thanks a lot for your input Shifty! :D

I think what you've said makes perfect sense. I don't know how well our limited perspectives from the interview visits can gauge how organized a program really is. Do you have any suggestions as to how we might assess the ability of a program to carry out the tasks and duties you've outlined above? I figure there really isn't any good way other than going through the program, by which point, if it sucks, you can't do much about it. It sounds like you had an excellent experience, and I guess all we can do is hope that ours is as good :)
 

Shifty B

10+ Year Member
Aug 13, 2008
452
97
271
Status
Attending Physician
I figure there really isn't any good way other than going through the program, by which point, if it sucks, you can't do much about it.
You're right that there really is no way to tell. The only thing that might be partially helpful would be talking to current/former students in programs that you've been accepted to before deciding to attend. Even then, students aren't really inclined to trash their own program.

You would probably only notice if the program was a total mess. For instance, I interviewed for at a prelim medicine program where the program director showed up 2 hours late, there was no conceivable sense of schedule, and the PD was quite frankly a little bit rude after it all happened. If you get a vibe that it's bad, it probably is.

I did have a great experience at what I consider to be an excellent program (CWRU). I'd be happy to answer questions about it by PM anytime. There is no way I could have known from the interview and second visit how good it was. However, I did have a good feeling about the place the entire time. Everyone seemed happy and I felt like I would be happy there.

Does UCSD have problems because they don't hit their own deadlines? probably not.

Would it be worrisome if there were multiple other hints?
maybe
 

z31

7+ Year Member
Jun 26, 2009
123
0
141
Status
Pre-Medical
Ack, just for the record, when I was talking about inferring disorganization, I was only commenting that for me, being notified late left a negative rather than positive gut impression, and that this gut impression had to do with perceiving disorganization.

However, I do like the follow-up question and answer that was asked about how important organization/disorganization is. :thumbup:
 

Shifty B

10+ Year Member
Aug 13, 2008
452
97
271
Status
Attending Physician
z31, I don't think anyone thought you were calling UCSD out for being disorganized.

However, I am. They rejected me twice! (See post above) Talk about giving you a bad gut feeling.
 

Newquagmire

15+ Year Member
Oct 30, 2002
1,271
3
341
z31, I don't think anyone thought you were calling UCSD out for being disorganized.

However, I am. They rejected me twice! (See post above) Talk about giving you a bad gut feeling.
I agree with your suggestion that a well-defined "workflow" can help students. That said, would feel the same (i.e. they're disorganized --> bad feeling) if you had been accepted rather than rejected twice? The same logic would seem to hold.
 

Shifty B

10+ Year Member
Aug 13, 2008
452
97
271
Status
Attending Physician
I agree with your suggestion that a well-defined "workflow" can help students. That said, would feel the same (i.e. they're disorganized --> bad feeling) if you had been accepted rather than rejected twice? The same logic would seem to hold.
Well, yea, it would have been just as disorganized if they accepted me twice but at least it would have felt better!

Anyway, irony doesn't always come across on these boards well. I'm not honestly trying to convince people not to go to UCSD because they rejected me twice. I just thought it was funny.

I have interviewed at UCSD at multiple levels of the educational process now, and I can safely say UCSD is a great educational institution in a great location. Anyone good enough to be accepted to UCSD MSTP should seriously consider going there, regardless of perceived "disorganization".

Good luck.
 

aztec123

10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Feb 1, 2009
2
0
1
Status
Pre-Medical
I got a short email from the MSTP office yesterday saying that they had already offered a small number of acceptances but that I was high on their waitlist. Did anyone else get that? Or hear any news at all yesterday? I'm still on pins and needles...
 
OP
A

achamess

10+ Year Member
Jul 6, 2007
314
31
261
www.drwillbe.blogspot.com
Status
MD/PhD Student
I got a short email from the MSTP office yesterday saying that they had already offered a small number of acceptances but that I was high on their waitlist. Did anyone else get that? Or hear any news at all yesterday? I'm still on pins and needles...
Same here. Looks like we're going to have to wait it out. Good luck.
 

alacast

10+ Year Member
Dec 10, 2008
125
0
0
Indiana
Status
Pre-Medical
Me three. Given that I had received two separate wink-wink-nudge-nudge emails from the program in the months after my interview, I was rather surprised. :-\

::waits::

::checks email::

::waits some more::
 
OP
A

achamess

10+ Year Member
Jul 6, 2007
314
31
261
www.drwillbe.blogspot.com
Status
MD/PhD Student
My hunch is this. They're probably still reeling from a few years back when 16 people matriculated. It's standard practice for most places to admit more people than they have spots because they presume that a certain number of those people will decline the offer. So perhaps, in order to not get caught in that spot again, they make offers as they have them, not all at once. This is just speculation, but it would make sense. Who knows.
 

soccerteez

Junior Member
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Dec 7, 2005
12
0
0
San Diego, CA
Status
MD/PhD Student
I'm a current UCSD MSTP. First of all, good luck to all of you on the wait list. We had an impressive group of applicants this year, which speaks volumes to all of you. Regarding acceptances off the wait list, achamess is correct in our admissions practice of only accepting students for the number of slots we have. Unfortunately, this means those of you on the wait list are at the mercy of other students weighing multiple acceptances. I remember being on the wait list for UCSD and being on pins and needles for a couple weeks, but it gets better! Most of you will hear soon, but the time line for that is dependent on students giving their final notice to the program of their intention.

Regarding the organizational importance of a program, I am going to reference Shifty's excellent post. The organization of your MSTP office will make your life easier and less stressful. Addressing UCSD's organization specifically, I will say that I have experienced both the good and subpar while at UCSD. There have been hiccups in the past, however I am very happy with the current staff and the support of the director, Dr. Insel. I have had experience in all five of the issues that Shifty posted, and I have been impressed with how they have all been handled.

If you are still on the wait list, it's because we think you would be successful and an excellent fit at UCSD. I hope you all hear soon, and if you have questions about your status please contact the MSTP office. They will be happy to help.
 
OP
A

achamess

10+ Year Member
Jul 6, 2007
314
31
261
www.drwillbe.blogspot.com
Status
MD/PhD Student
I'm a current UCSD MSTP. First of all, good luck to all of you on the wait list. We had an impressive group of applicants this year, which speaks volumes to all of you. Regarding acceptances off the wait list, achamess is correct in our admissions practice of only accepting students for the number of slots we have. Unfortunately, this means those of you on the wait list are at the mercy of other students weighing multiple acceptances. I remember being on the wait list for UCSD and being on pins and needles for a couple weeks, but it gets better! Most of you will hear soon, but the time line for that is dependent on students giving their final notice to the program of their intention.

Regarding the organizational importance of a program, I am going to reference Shifty's excellent post. The organization of your MSTP office will make your life easier and less stressful. Addressing UCSD's organization specifically, I will say that I have experienced both the good and subpar while at UCSD. There have been hiccups in the past, however I am very happy with the current staff and the support of the director, Dr. Insel. I have had experience in all five of the issues that Shifty posted, and I have been impressed with how they have all been handled.

If you are still on the wait list, it's because we think you would be successful and an excellent fit at UCSD. I hope you all hear soon, and if you have questions about your status please contact the MSTP office. They will be happy to help.
Wow! Thanks so much soccerteez for chiming in and demystifying the process for us. I'm glad my suspicions about the admissions process at UCSD was accurate :)

It's also reassuring to hear that the organizational aspects that Shifty addressed are to your liking at UCSD.

Anyway, we'll just have to be patient from here on out.

Quick question about second look... are waitlisted candidates invited as well?

Thanks again so much.
 

delirium81

10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Mar 19, 2008
123
0
141
Status
MD/PhD Student
Hi there,
I am also a current UCSD MSTP. I second pretty much everything Soccerteez said about the program. Though thankfully I haven't had to deal with number 5 on ShiftyB's list, I have dealt with 1-4 and found both the director, Paul Insel, and the admin, Mary Alice, to be extremely helpful and accommodating. They really try to let the program be flexible enough to meet your individual needs, which I've personally found to be fabulous.

To answer your question about second look weekend, only accepted candidates are invited. I'm not entirely sure what your options are if you're accepted off the wait list after the second look weekend is over, but it might be worth contacting the program to ask if you're interested. Good luck everyone!!
 
Last edited: