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What should I do???

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bex

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Hi guys, I need your advice. So now that I've gone through the super long process of MD/PhD admissions, I'm facing a really hard decision. I feel lucky that I have to make a decision like this but, nonetheless, very overwhelmed. First, I got into a few MSTP programs that I was really excited about. Last week, not expecting to get in to any others, I thought I had basically decided which one I really wanted to go to: University of Pittsburgh. But then, on friday, I got into Harvard Medical School (not MSTP). All this time, I have had my heart set on doing an MSTP program. This was the only not MSTP program that I had interviewed for (once harvard already told me no for the mstp interview). I went mainly because the people in my lab convinced me to go and because my family, who lives in the boston area, are really lobbying for me to stay around. But, as I visited harvard and was really impressed with how research oriented and exciting just the med school is and thought about what having the name harvard associated with my name might do for my future career, I began to consider applying there to be worthwhile. So now I'm very reluctant to turn down the med school especially after reading online about their options for transferring into MD/PhD maybe with some funding and probably guaranteed with no funding. I plan to call harvard tomorrow to find out more. But, what to you think about my dilemma? Help me out if you can.
 

Habari

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hey bex,
i thought this questino would come up here sooner or later;) congrats on both hms and pitt mstp. agian this is personal here - btu there are some things you could think about. essentially what i think it comes down to- is how important the harvard brand is to you.

while the possiblity exists to get into the md/phd at harvard (from what it sounds - its pretty easy to get it without funding) - the debt one incurs would be extremely high. harvard does not have as many nih funded slots as other programs, and it woudl be very competitive to get the funding even in house (though not impossible).

secondly - and this is the most improtant caveat - while you already know that you would have to pay for the first 2 years, you can only apply for mstp funding for your last 2 years as you are COMPLETING your thesis (you've already committed to the md/phd without knowing if you will get funding for the last 2 years). this is something new i read recently on their site. while i imagine you would be in a good position to get it at that point, it is quite an expensive (200k) leap of faith. this cost issue is non-trivial, as i'm sure you realize, especially because of the academic medicine path that most md/phd's end up pursuing. and if you know you don't want academic medicine - then perhaps there is no point in doing the md/phd.

but if you realize that you really want to goto med school, and still pursue a research career through another route (or not at all) then go for hms if thats what you want. otherwise, take the sure thing that you have.

i persinally haven't heard from hms md or mstp as yet (find out monday if i can continue to play) - but i'm quite sure that i woudn't take md-only there. i can definatley see the attraction it holds, however, and its not unreasonable to be thinking about it. i beleive vader had this choice a few years back as well (and chose mstp).

i've met quite a few mstp's that had this option, and i imagine there are also some hms students that had the mstp option. its obvsiouly not a black and white issue for you (and was tough for many of them) so weigh what you want carefully. best of luck and let us know what you decide!
 

beanery

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I'm going to present the other view here and say you should go to HMS. The research there is better than Pitt, hands down. And if you go to HMS you can definitely get good training by taking a few years off and doing research or get a PhD. Like you said, they do take a few each year into their combined degree program. Or you could do HHMI which many of their students obtain with ease. No question, financially mstp would be better at PITT. All I can say is that with an MD from Harvard you will likely be able to pay off the debt. I think the harvard name just opens so, so many doors. Compare the match list of HMS vs Pitt. I think you will see that HMS will funnel you into the most competitive residencies at the best research hospitals. You'll want to get your training there so you have the best shot at academic medicine. Obviously, if you go to pitt and do stellar you'd be fine, but the avg hms student will still have an easier path. An MD-PhD from pitt is not a guarantee to an academic career or top residency placement. I hate to be so crude and base it simply on the rankings, but Harvard and Pitt are just so far apart in their reputations. Harvard has such an aura in the medical field. I'm wondering what other MSTP programs you are considering. If it were another top 10 school, it would be another story, but with your choice I would go to Harvard.
 

pathdr2b

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Originally posted by ready
[BI know most of you don't have to worry about doing a MD/PhD that isn't completely funded. But, if you did, what would you do?
[/B]


First, there's no doubt that you'll get a great education at UNC Chapel Hill although my opinion my be biased since I'm an alum. If you're certain that academic medicine is your goal then I'd say matriculating at the best school you can is crucial. You also have the option of switching to the combined program at UNC after the first year.

Unlike most of the MD/PhD wannbe's in this thread I do worry somehwat about getting funding since I did so poorly as an undergraduate. However, I haven't limited myself in terms of HOW I earn both degrees.

If I'm not admitted this year, I will probably matriculate into an MD only program and switch to the combined program the following year. If I'm still not successful, I plan to get the PhD as part of a pathology residency program.

To the OP, I also plan to apply to Harvard but not as MSTP (I would NEVER consider this option there based on info from friends that are there now and those that have finished the MD only program). I would get the Harvard MD and get my PhD in a residency program.
 

ptiger

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"To the OP, I also plan to apply to Harvard but not as MSTP (I would NEVER consider this option there based on info from friends that are there now and those that have finished the MD only program). I would get the Harvard MD and get my PhD in a residency program."

What excatly are you referring to? What have your friends said about Harvard MSTP? How does this differ from Harvard MD only?
 

MPS

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pathdr2b- I think that you should be more specific about the problems you perceive with the Harvard MD-PhD program rather than simply slating it. I know someone who did a combined MD-PhD at Harvard & MIT: she describes her training in glowing terms.

As for Bex - I think you have a tough decision to make. If you think that it will be possible to switch to the MD-PhD program at Harvard, or if you don't mind the idea of completing a PhD after your MD, then you'd have to choose Harvard.
 

pathdr2b

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Originally posted by MPS
pathdr2b- I think that you should be more specific about the problems you perceive with the Harvard MD-PhD program rather than simply slating it. I know someone who did a combined MD-PhD at Harvard & MIT: she describes her training in glowing terms.

I've believe I've explained this before in another thread about Harvard where if I'm not mistaken others had similar views as mine. Do a search for details.

If you want to go to Harvard and do MSTP, please by all means go. But you're going to look like you're 100 years old when you finish!:laugh:

Also I never heard of anyone that descirbed their MD/PhD in "glowing terms" no matter where they went, so more power to her!
 

MPS

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Originally posted by pathdr2b
If you want to go to Harvard and do MSTP, please by all means go. But you're going to look like you're 100 years old when you finish!:laugh:

Also I never heard of anyone that descirbed their MD/PhD in "glowing terms" no matter where they went, so more power to her!

One PhD and one medical degree is enough for any man, so I don't intend to apply to Harvard.

Actually my friend still looks good, and she graduated from the Harvard-MIT MSTP more than ten years ago.......
 
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