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What to do next?? (halp!)

Discussion in 'Nontraditional Students' started by KidXFiz, Dec 3, 2008.

  1. KidXFiz

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    Hi Fellow Non-Trads!
    I need a bit of advice...
    I recently decided that I want to go to med school. Actually, I want to go the MD/PhD route except that I'm transferring from an MS program now into a PhD program next semester. So I will have a BS Bio (cum gpa 3.1 - young and undisciplined) and a BS Exercise Science (gpa 3.7, many awards, research, 2 primary author abstracts at conferences, 1 primary author paper in review, tutoring, TA, clinical internship, etc (also diagnosed with adhd)). My PhD will be in pediatric exercise physiology with a concentration in genetics related to metabolism, obesity, and intervention programs. I want to work with kids in this field. The prob - my school (although it is fantastic) only has 1 prof for all my core classes and I am having trouble getting a 4.0 with him. Looks like I might even get a B+-ish in my cardiorespiratory responses to exercise class. He repeatedly tells me that in grad school, GPA doesn't matter but I have to let him know that since my goals involve med school, it does. His grading is questionable, which all of us (students) know and accept. The question - how much will a sub 4.0 in grad school affect my acceptance chances?? Should I just finish the master's and not do the PhD if I won't get a full 4.0? Other stats - I still have not taken the MCAT b/c my o-chem knowledge bites. I took it in my first BS and don't remember much at all. I am going to shadow a cardiologist, volunteer at a local children's hospital, and try to shadow my GI doc (but I'm reluctant to ask because it always embarrasses me he's done scopes on me and has seen my rear:eek: ). Anyway, I am committed to helping people and to research so what do I do???? BTW, been on this forum for a few days and you guys are FANTASTIC and most inspirational! Thx
     
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  3. dragonfly99

    10+ Year Member

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    First, you need to decide what you want to do. In my opinion you might want to rethink getting a PhD right now at this moment. I think it would save you time and be better to go straight for an MD/PhD program, rather than a PhD program, if that is what you want. Suppose you do a PhD program (I'm assuming 5 years minimum, if not 7 or so). If you do that you really have to finish it, or be in your last year, before trying to get in to med school. Then it would be 4 years in med school, plus another 3 or more in residency. You're talking about a maybe 13 to 18 year time course here. Is that realistic for you? Are you going to be able to pay for it? Better to get in to an MD/PhD program where you wouldn't have to pay medical school tuition at all.

    My advice would be decide on your priorities. I recommend either finishing your master's degree and at the same time trying to get ready to apply to med school (and/or an Md/PhD program, which usually will let you graduate in 7-9 or so years with both degrees), vs. just dropping the idea of medical school and doing the research route (straight PhD) since you seem enthused about your research.

    With your background you could also consider physical therapy school (not sure what research pathways they have, but I know that several of the schools are now changing to doctor of PT rather than a master's and I'll bet they'd LOVE your application). It's just an idea...maybe worth exploring.

    For medical school, I don't know that your grad school GPA is going to be the deciding factor, whether it's 3.5 or 3.8. The med school admissions committee will care more about your MCAT score and your undergraduate GPA, particularly the science GPA and the grades in courses like organic chemistry and biology classes. If you got a low grade in organic chem (like less than a B or B- or so) you probably need to retake that and show that you can do better. Plus you need to be able to get a good score on the MCAT, which will require some understanding of chemistry.
     
  4. KidXFiz

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    I agree somewhat. Originally, I was going to do the strict PhD but since my clinical internship, I really really want to work directly with patients. My newfound understanding of the PhD is that you mostly teach and do research and rarely work with patients. Teaching is alright but not overly satisfying to me as a career prospect. I don't want to identify myself too much but my PhD program would take about 2.5 from right now to finish minus dissertation. Cost is not too much of an issue as my grad tuition is paid as long as I keep working. I am planning on re-taking o-chem as soon as I talk to my grad advisor about my plans but my undergrad grades consist of a W, a B and a C (I think). I got A's in the labs so I'm trying to find a CC that will let me take just the lecture portion. I think showing a change in performance probably looks good to an adcom (at least I hope). All my advanced science classes (undergrad and grad) have been A or B+ grades. Thanks for your advice:)
     
  5. dragonfly99

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    I would retake the course you got a C in...and not at a community college. Show that you can do the work in the setting of being with other students at a 4 year school, and do it well. That is what I would do.

    With a dissertation, the "only 2.5 years" could turn in to 3.5 or 4 years, couldn't it? If medical school is what you want, I don't know that I'd waste my time doing that. It's your choice though...having a PhD won't keep you out of med school but it also won't get you in. It might help slightly, but only very slightly. Your MCAT score and undergrad grades will be more important.

    If not trying to do a PhD at the same time, you could focus on your premed studies, volunteer in a hospital, and get some sort of job to tide you over. That's if you want go "whole hog". What you don't want to do is quit in the middle of getting your PhD. That looks bad. Either finish the masters and stop, or go all the way and get the PhD, but don't drop out of the PhD program.
     
  6. KidXFiz

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    Thanks so much. You make a lot of sense. Today I had a chat with my old internship supervisor. I did 6 months in cardiorespiratory rehab and LOVED working with the patients. Anyway, he is arranging for me to shadow physicians at our hospital full time over break. I can also do volunteering there for sure. We also talked about co-authoring a couple papers together with rehab data that has been accumulating for years. I was on a high...then I got home to a nasty email from my advisor at school. I work non-stop for her on her studies and teaching classes but she has a bad temper so when something goes wrong, you get chewed even if it's not your fault. I don't think I could put up with that for an entire doctorate. Do you get that kind of treatment in medical school too??? I also realize now that most of the research that my department does is data analysis for the sake of analysis. I want to help kids...and our research doesn't. It's a lot to swallow. Again, thanks for your advice. I am going to kill the MCAT and also use some of my free credits to retake o-chem. :rolleyes:
     

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