What is an MD/PhD interview like?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by benfolds21, Dec 14, 2005.

  1. benfolds21

    benfolds21 Senior Member
    10+ Year Member

    Oct 24, 2005
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    Attending Physician
    So I recently decided at a school to go MD/PhD because of a new program.

    I already interviewed there for my MD and now I have to go back for an MD/PhD interview. What are the interviews like? What should I prepared for?

  2. Elastase

    Elastase StanfUrd bound!!!
    5+ Year Member

    Aug 14, 2004
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    I am not MD/PhD...but from what I hear...

    They grill you on your past research. Details. Also what the research means to you and your motivations behind it. Good luck!
  3. Napoleon4000

    Napoleon4000 Senior Member
    5+ Year Member

    Nov 7, 2005
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    Other Health Professions Student
    MSTP interviews are not to grill you but to really engage your scientific mind. Some typical questions have been:
    1) why this approach over this one?
    2) explain use of controls
    3) what were the pitfalls of my work
    And that's just the first of typically five/six interviews. Mostly about research and clinical applications of the work. Additionally, they do ask about why we would want both degrees. Why not one or the other?
    Dialogue should be very easy if you know your stuff and if the motivations are there. I've never found them to be anything more than pure scientific talk, except when one is asked how one handles stress, etc, etc. By the way check out the MSTP thread. They do this probably because the program lasts so long. They not only want to match research interests but personality types as well.
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  4. mercaptovizadeh

    mercaptovizadeh ἀλώπηξ
    10+ Year Member

    Oct 15, 2004
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    Usually they'll discuss your research with you. If you know it well, you should do well. This discussion can range from sort of a general overview of the subject and perhaps probing your broader knowledge of it, to going into the technical details of your experiments. Either way, if you've worked on a project for a number of months, you should be able to do fine.

    Often, the interviewer will ask you why you are interested in a field, e.g. immunology, neuroscience. Be sure you have a good answer as to how it connects to clinical medicine.

    Many will also ask why MD/PhD? Just explain that intelligently.

    Many will also ask why you want that particular university. My response to that was discussing their research in general, or a particular department as being quite strong, or the possibilities of collaborations, etc.

    Sometimes they may finish quite early, and ask if you have any questions. Unless the interviewer is someone intimately involved in the administration of the MD/PhD program, or has had MD/PhD students, it is best not to ask logistical questions, such as years, stipend, and the like. It is much better to ask them about their research (people love talking about themselves), and ideally find something interesting about it and perhaps a connection to your own field of interest. Keep up your attention during this portion of the interview, and feel free to interject and ask good questions. That's a plus.

    Occasionally, you get someone who wishes to discuss their research almost entirely. I've had two interviews like that so far (of several dozen in all). In such cases, just ask lots of questions and show interest. Such people are more into selling themselves than testing you.

    Rarely will you get someone who grills you on a completely unrelated topic. My research was in immuno and something neuro-science related, and one of my interviewers asked me about my college education and then went straight to systems biology, why networks are problematic, how I would fix it, what thesis topics I would envision, etc. That was kind of a rare interview.

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