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Vanderbilt MSTP vs UTSW MSTP

Discussion in 'Physician Scientists' started by hlmpg, May 3, 2007.

  1. hlmpg

    hlmpg M -0.5

    Mar 21, 2007
    New York, NY
    I know, I know, another one of those xx vs oo questions. Although I think my heart has decided, I'm still wavering a bit here and would appreciate any input. My personal thoughts (please correct me if I'm wrong):

    Vanderbilt - love the med school (small class size, organ-based curriculum), not so sure about the breadth or resource level for research or the location (lack of diversity).

    UTSW - don't know about the med school (large class size, traditional curriculum), but awesome awesome research. Dallas is a big city with diversity and lots of cultural events.

    I'd say UTSW because research trumps med school (I'll come out an MD anyways), but I'm still very much in love with Vanderbilt's med school. What do you guys think? Any other things I didn't consider? Thanks!!
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  3. potato51

    potato51 10+ Year Member

    Oct 9, 2005
    not MSTP but wanted to reply anyway. UTSW is "traditional" the 1st year and systems-based the second. The class size issue has never been a big deal to me since less than half even attend lectures and I like the fact I can meet someone new every week. But from what I've noticed, the MSTPs are a pretty tight group.

    I get the impression your PhD training/research will define your career more than your MD training, so I'd be biased to pick the better graduate program. good luck and congrats on your choices.
  4. jjmack

    jjmack Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Mar 2, 2003
    there is a lot of research at vandy. what are you interested in? True, compared to nyc nashville isn't super diverse, but not so sure about dallas either. and nashville is only a ~2hr flight to nyc ;-)
  5. gbwillner

    gbwillner Pastafarian Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Usually the X Vs O questions are difficult, but I'd say based on the strengths of the programs alone UTSW >>>> Vandy. If you just love Tennesee and feel like you'd "fit" better there, then go there. IMHO, the curriculum differences are always overrated.
  6. jjmack

    jjmack Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Mar 2, 2003
    of course I am biased, but I don't agree with that at all. I feel both schools have strengths and weaknesses.
  7. hawkeey

    hawkeey Member 5+ Year Member

    Nov 6, 2005
    Well you seem to have a question about the UTSW medical school mainly, so I'll address that. If you have any other questions about the MSTP feel free to ask. I think the research is quite good here and that students in the MSTP have access to the best labs.

    One of the main selling points of UTSW as a medical school is the amount of clinical opportunity offered to students. The school is adjacent to primary county public hospital for all of north Texas, and this is in addition to other hospitals (the VA, Childrens, Scottish-Rite) that are actively used as teaching hospitals. One might argue that this is only applicable for the clinical years, but as a first year student I've already interacted patients at many of these institutions. Third and fourth year students talk about having delivered babies (not just watching). Graduates in residency programs are complemented for their substantial clinical knowledge.

    I do not think that the large class size really deters education that much. There is a lot of small group work that helps compensate for this.

    One of the things that you might want to consider is the grading system. Vanderbilt has pass/fail system where as UTSW has a A/B+/B/C/F system. In the long run either system probably does not matter for you, but it could cause some stress (or conversely a lack of motivation).

    As others above have said, I don't think one is clearly superior over the other. I usually advise people choosing between schools to make a list of what is important and then collect as much information about the schools regarding that criteria.
  8. Dr.Watson

    Dr.Watson 2+ Year Member

    Oct 11, 2006
    Just remember you can only have 1 PI for your PhD. If you're really undecided about your field, then UTSW might be a better bet. But Vandy has a lot of amazing researchers and if it fits your general field, I think Vandy's a good option if it 'fits' your personality. Vandy and UTSW each have their own strengths in research.

    Overall, breadth of UTSW wins, but again, it's not going to affect you much once you choose a lab. Also, resource-level is mostly PI-dependent. Both schools have good core facilities and if you're working with a 'big-name' PI, you'll have easy access to whatever you need.

    I feel Vandy MSTP is better integrated and personally has happier students, but it depends on which group of students fits your personality best.
  9. greg12345

    greg12345 New Member 2+ Year Member

    Apr 2, 2006
    Don't choose a program based on differences in curriculum. Go where the research is good, the program's students are cool, and where you could live for 8 years, don't sweat minor details in whether a place has a county hospital, etc. But if you are going to, Vandy's computer system is absolutely incredible and would make your life as a 3rd year med student SO NICE.

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