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MD / PhD Advice and Chances

sarahwellssarahwells Registered User Posts: 47 Junior Member
edited August 30 in Multiple Degree Programs
Hello all,

I'm very interested in doing an NIH-funded MD/PhD after I finish my B.S. at University of Washington - Seattle. I am currently a junior in credits, but this will be my sophomore year at UW. I am looking for advice right now about when I should take my MCAT, when I should apply to MD/PhD programs, and if I'm missing any major points on my application.

Demographics - Female, white
School - University of Washington, Seattle for B.S. in Molecular Biology, intended graduation in 2019.
I moved from Idaho in 2016 and established residency in Washington - paid my way through college by myself.

Academics - Current 3.66 GPA, on an upward trend to increase to 3.85+, just need to plan to take the MCAT.

Research - Evolution in E. coli under selective pressure from rifampicin and streptomycin with a PhD from Harvard for one year, presented at a research symposium. Currently developing qPCR primers to genotype two mouse models used for a prior study, and then using that genotyping data to study the expression of versican in mouse lungs in response to influenza infection. Potential to publish, and present at several symposiums, will probably last for two years. Good potential for letters of rec from PIs I've worked with here

Volunteering - Trying to get a spot volunteering at Harborview or Swedish

Extracurricular Activities - Founder of the American Medical Women's Association (AMWA) at UW, on the executive board of my sorority, oil painting, freelance photography, and skiing

Clinical Experience - Shadowing in the ER at UWMC, and in anesthesia at NWMC, will have worked for 3+ years as a histology and veterinary pathology assistant at UW Research

I'm just looking for any advice about things I should be doing or thinking about, especially with regard to timing my applications and tests.

Thank you!

Replies to: MD / PhD Advice and Chances

  • i_wanna_be_Browni_wanna_be_Brown Registered User Posts: 7,771 Senior Member
    The question of when to take the MCAT is first determined by whether you are planning on going straight into MD/PhD after you graduate or if you're planning on a gap year. If you are going straight, you'll ideally want to submit AMCAS in june after your junior year. Since you're graduating in 2019 that means taking the MCAT no later than the end of May. Given that GPA is your most obvious weak point, I would be wary of doing MCAT on top of school this year so a gap year might make the most sense for you because you will a) have senior year grades on your transcript to hopefully further improve your GPA and b) be able to take the MCAT at the end of summer 2018 and only have to balance studying and lab - which is way easier than balancing studying and school and all your ECs.

    I'm assuming the skiing is at least club, if not varsity, given that you are mentioning it, correct? If so, that's a nice EC. Competitive athletics and musical performance are the best non-research ECs you can have.

    FWIW, EM and anesthesia are not typical MD/PhD fields (although path definitely is), so if those end up being your only patient contact fields you will probably get asked why you didn't see something from medicine or peds. I don't think it will have any impact on your chances, just something to consider.
  • i_wanna_be_Browni_wanna_be_Brown Registered User Posts: 7,771 Senior Member
    I'm sure @plumazul will have a different opinion so she should weigh in too (assuming she still posts, haven't seen her in a while)
  • sarahwellssarahwells Registered User Posts: 47 Junior Member
    @i_wanna_be_Brown Thank you so much for your response - it's really helpful to me. I am still exploring the shadowing environment, and will probably go more toward other fields. I just happen to have contacts in EM / surgery right now.
  • artloversplusartloversplus Registered User Posts: 7,794 Senior Member
    edited August 31
    I am not qualified to comment on MD/PHD subject. But since Skiing was mentioned in upthread, perhaps I can comment on that.

    To be qualified as an "achieved/accomplished" skier, you need to win in some major regional competitions such as New England, Western, California, Colorado and such.
    Or if you can become a PISA/CSIA Level III ski instructor, which is quite difficult for a college level student.
  • i_wanna_be_Browni_wanna_be_Brown Registered User Posts: 7,771 Senior Member
    edited September 1
    The point I was making about sports isn't so much about the actual level of achievement in the sport but more about sports as a vehicle for demonstrating commitment, being part of a team, and determination in the face of adversity which can be done at the varsity level regardless of your results and at the club level if it's something with mandatory practices/training. MSTPs don't have athletic teams so they don't care if you're actually that accomplished.

    Programs specifically mentioned my varsity fencing at Brown as a plus (and said being in a school orchestra or the equivalent would have been on the same level). I was a U (which stands for unranked) in USFA rankings, I competed in one national tournament in high school where I didn't make it out of the first round, and I was never all conference in either the ivy league or the much weaker northeastern fencing conference (in the latter I at least had a personal record well above .500). They definitely did not care about my actual fencing accomplishments (or should I say, lack thereof). Sure, it's probably better if you're someone like Myron Rolle (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myron_Rolle), but of the 11 kids in my MSTP class, there were two club athletes (fencing at a school w/o varsity fencing and rugby). I would be stunned to discover that 1/3 of MSTP applicants are club level athletes or higher.
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