I met with the head of the MSTP program at one of my top choice schools today and I have no fucking clue how to take it. I was basically wanting to know whether or not I was wasting my time applying to the program. He spent the first 10 minutes talking about MCAT scores, how competitive medical school admission was, and things like that. Then he started asking me about the research I’ve done. I began explaining about it, describing what I’ve been working on, which is mostly quantitative research, and then interrupted to ask about whether I had bench research. By bench research, he was most certainly asking about whether I had spent time in a biochemistry or cellular biology lab. When I told him I hadn’t, he told me “That’s going to hurt you”. Fair enough. If that’s really what the MSTP world wants, fine.
Here’s the rub. We continue talking and then he starts going on about how he really wants people with a quantitative background. He told me that he thought it was a lot easier for quantitative people to learn the biology and lab stuff then it was for biology people to learn the math. He actually said that. How are those not contradictory statements? At this point in the conversation, I pretty much concluded that I was wasting my time, so I pressed him a little bit and asked him how wanting someone with a lot of bench experience and a quantitative background wasn’t contradictory. He told me that it wasn’t specific backgrounds that they wanted; a generic background was what they were looking for, but in specific areas. Eventually, and I have no idea what point of the conversation we were in, he interrupted to ask, “What other questions do you have for me?” which was clearly code for, “I”m busy, so get the fuck out of my office”. I thanked him for his time, he told me to emphasize my quantitative background on my application and then I got up to leave. As I was leaving, I asked him if I was wasting my time applying to his program and he told that I wasn’t and that I should write about my quantitative background.
I’d like to ask my MD-PhD readers for some insight on this because I have no idea what the hell to think. I don’t know what the fuck an immunoassay is. I don’t know anything about how to do a fucking Western blot, Southern blot, or any other kind of blot. Is the MD-PhD world really so narrow-minded to think that if I haven’t clocked time with test tubes in one hand and cell cultures in the other that I have no business becoming a physician-scientist? I haven’t a clue what to think – was this guy telling me I was completely off my rocker? Do I need to push my application back another year so I can go get my hands dirty in an immunology lab? This was one of my top choice schools and now I feel like I’m just a scrub with a big MCAT score with a shit cumulative GPA that has wasted the past three years trying to become a doctor.
Filed under: Applying to Medical School