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  • cd22

  • Application cycles: 06/12/2015
  • Demographics: Female, Caucasian
  • Home state: Alabama
  • Last Active: 08/25/2016
  • Brief Profile: || GENERAL NOTES ||
    I have updated this page with more in-depth information now that my cycle is over. Hoping that it can be of use to other MD/PhD applicants out there! My demographics may be incorrect; I don't want to put too much personal information out there.

    I applied mostly MSTP with the intention of pursuing my PhD in a social science. Since not all MSTPs fund social science PhDs, I also applied MD at some schools where there are strong research opportunities in my field. This includes Stanford, where I could apply to the MSTP by internal admission (i.e. as an M2). Every school where I applied MSTP, I listed Epidemiology or some other public health degree as my PhD of choice.

    AC stands for "All Complete" and refers to the date when my app was marked complete (where possible) or when I submitted my secondary (for schools with no "complete" email).


    2015 MCAT Score: 520 (98th percentile, equiv. to ~37, no writing section)
    cGPA: 3.97
    BCPM GPA: 4.00
    Major: Interdisciplinary degree, NOT a hard science (you do NOT have to be a hard science major to succeed in MSTP admissions!)
    Coursework: In addition to my departmental coursework, I took all of the pre-med reqs and some extra upper-div science courses. I also took a few graduate-level courses in my department and in public/global health. I did an honors thesis.

    || RESEARCH ||

    - >4 years of research total, will be >5 by matriculation
    - International public health research during gap year on major post-bacc fellowship
    - 2 additional international public health research experiences in low- and middle-income countries funded by competitive grant fellowships
    - 1 year and 1 summer in wet lab research
    - 1 mid-author pub, 1 published 1st author abstract, 1 1st author poster presentation at an international conference, 3 other 1st author papers in works/submitted at time of application


    - Lots of medical volunteering & shadowing in US and abroad
    - Extensive leadership experience in service-oriented groups, both health-related and non-health-related
    - Leadership role in a club sport that allowed me to compete internationally
    - Class rep on college council
    - Work experience


    - Major international award for public health research during gap year
    - Numerous awards, competitive research fellowships and grants to fund my research experiences
    - Grab bag of usual academic honors (Phi Beta Kappa, latin honors, scholarships, etc.)
    - Extremely strong LORs
  • // Applications //

    Application Cycle One: 06/12/2015

    • Undergraduate college: HYPSM
    • Total MCAT SCORE: 520
    • MCAT Section Scores: B/B 130, C/P 129, CARS 132  
    • Overall GPA: 3.97
    • Science GPA: 4.00

    Summary of Application Experience

    17 primary applications completed (11 MSTP / 6 MD) --> 17 secondaries received --> 16 secondaries completed (10 MSTP / 6 MD) --> 13 interview invites (7 MSTP / 6 MD) --> 10 interviews attended (7 MSTP / 3 MD) --> 2 post-interview withdrawals (2 MSTP)** --> 8 acceptances (5 MSTP / 3 MD)

    ** I withdrew from Yale and Penn post-II.

    || WORD TO THE WISE ||

    1. A word on secondaries. The two week turnaround rule for secondaries is complete BS. I submitted some secondaries super fast (within about 3 weeks), and some super slow (after one month+), and it made no difference as to my receiving IIs. In fact, Stanford was the last secondary I submitted, and it was the first school to offer me an II, my first interview, AND I was accepted just one month after my interview. So, my advice is to take your time and make sure to submit quality secondaries rather than rushed half-baked ones.

    2. Applying from abroad. I applied and interviewed while living on the other side of the world. It was TOUGH, but can be done. I recommend trying to get your applications out of the way before you go abroad, but if you cannot help it, schools are more or less willing to accommodate. MD/PhD from abroad is harder than MD-only. I had to fly back 3 times in total. It was expensive, but I justified it by telling myself that if I got into an MSTP it would be worth it. Feel free to PM me with questions.

    3. MD/PhD in Public Health. As stated above, to every school where I applied MSTP, I listed a public health degree as my PhD of choice. I did not list any basic science PhDs on any application (you can list more than one degree program on most applications). This is one way to apply MD/PhD in Public Health; the other is to apply like any other basic science applicant, and switch into public health once you are admitted. For me, that never would have worked -- I had extensive public health research experience and not a ton of basic science research experience. However, for applicants with mostly lab-based research, this could be an option. I got the impression along the interview trail that schools with strong public health programs were very interested in Epi applicants, since we add diversity to the MSTP class. In all of my interviews, I only met 1 other straight Epi applicant, and 1 other person interested in public health through a basic science route. Needless to say, we are a rare breed.

    Despite us being somewhat "unusual", I do not think that applying MD/PhD in Epi is easier than applying to a basic science. This is evidenced by the fact that despite there being a handful of Epi applicants each year, most programs only have 1-2 Epi students across all 8 years' worth of classes, if even that (with the exception of Emory, UNC, and UW, which usually have 1-2 public health matriculants each year). Multiple interviewers along the trail told me that most MD/PhD applicants in public health do not have enough in-depth research experience to get into an Epidemiology PhD program. I think this is probably due to the fact that public health research usually involves field work, and it's harder to get involved in that as an undergraduate than it is to do lab research. Also, most straight-PhD programs in Epidemiology only accept students who already have an MPH. While MD/PhD programs are more flexible on this (I didn't have an MPH), it is still a bit of a hurdle to get over with respect to PhD admissions, since the graduate program in Epi has to review and accept you in addition to the MD/PhD program (either at the time of MD/PhD application or at the time of grad school entry after M2). I think that the opportunities that I was fortunate enough to have to engage in extensive, sustained domestic and international public health research over the past 5 years was the key to my (very lucky) success this cycle. I made the decision to forgo lab research early on in my undergraduate career in favor of public health research, and I think this made a huge difference for me. So if you are interested in public health and are worried about leaving the lab behind in favor of field research, my advice is to do it! Follow your passion, in whatever research arena that may be.

    4. After the interview. DO send 1-2 update letters (I only sent 1) to show continued interest and accomplishment. DO send a letter intent if you are able to say with 100% certainty "I will attend this school if accepted." DO NOT send a letter of intent to more than ONE school. I also hand-wrote thank you notes to everyone who interviewed me and the directors of each program. I can't say whether this helped, but a few emailed me to thank me for my note. If nothing else, I just think it is polite.

    Application Complete, Rejected

    University of California, San Francisco
    University of Michigan
    Johns Hopkins University

    Application Complete, Withdrew

    Albert Einstein of Yeshiva University

    Invited for Interview, Withdrew

    Columbia University
    University of Connecticut
    University of Virginia

    Attended Interview, Withdrew

    Yale University
    University of Pennsylvania


    Cornell University
    Stanford University
    Mount Sinai School of Medicine
    Harvard University
    University of Washington
    Emory University
    University of North Carolina
    University of Pittsburgh

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