Remaining Schools

I’ve had to reexamine a lot of my priorities over the past month or so and have had to realize that if I wanted to do the kind of program I’m interested in, I needed to reevaluate a few things. To that end, I sort of altered the way I had been looking for schools to apply to.

I’ve concluded that I’d like to do a PhD in computational biology or biostatistics, depending on the school. I’d like to integrate my interest in math, programming, and quantitative science into medicine. I’ve come to realize that this makes me somewhat incompatible with a significant number of MD / PhD programs. So to maximize my chances of getting an acceptance somewhere, I screened schools in the following way:

  • I created a sortable list of all 130 medical schools in the US and removed all that were in areas I really didn’t want to live for 7-8 years.
  • I went through the MD / PhD program websites and looked to see which had progras in computational biology, bioinformatics, or something similar. I feel compelled to point out that the quality of medical school websites varies greatly. Some are fantastic and give you a great sense of what they’re about. Others, not so much.
  • Some schools make it abundantly clear that they are only interested in the ‘basic sciences’. I’ve learned that this is code for the Holy Trinity: biochemistry, neuroscience, and molecular biology. Once I concluded I wasn’t going to find a home there, I removed them from the list.

That leaves 18 schools, which I’ve listed here. I’ve arranged them in relative order of perference, but until I do more research, I’m not sure which ones will be at the top of my list:

University of Washington School of Medicine
Harvard Medical School
University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A Carver College of Medicine
University of Chicago, Pritzker School of Medicine
Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine

Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine
Wake Forest School of Medicine of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine
Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
Baylor College of Medicine

Indiana University School of Medicine
University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health
University of Michigan Medical School
University of Minnesota Medical School
University of Colorado School of Medicine
University of Virginia School of Medicine

I don’t intend to apply to all of these schools, but I have no idea how competitive I will be for these programs. My undergrad GPA is atrocious and I don’t have a tremendous amount of medical research experience under my belt.

I was shocked to find that Harvard made its way onto my list – but programs like mathematical biophysics have a way of snagging my attention. Anyway, thoughts on any of these?

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20 Responses

  1. Nope, no thoughts. That’s a pretty good list. You might consider UCSF and UCLA also.

  2. I applied to a couple of schools MD-only as my safeties, and cancelled the interviews once I got in somewhere. It makes filling out AMCAS a little weird, but it didn’t seem to matter and I got plenty of interviews anyway.

  3. I’m a Midwestern girl and I’m a strong supporter of Wash U. in STL. I love St. Louis. It’s a city, but it’s fairly easy to get around, has tons of stuff to do, the cost of living isn’t atrocious, you get ALL FOUR SEASONS, and I know several graduates from the med school and they are all brilliant and happy. :)

    • Indeed. Wash U is high up on the list, which is strange because I had not initially considered it. Part of that is that I wasn’t really paying attention to graduate schools and after I started to realize how what I want to do isn’t considered “normal” at a lot of places, I started using grad programs to choose schools.

      Know anything about how the medical school is run?

      • Unfortunately, I do not. I got wait-listed there for undergrad and changed my mind about Med School by the time I graduated. :) However, I know TONS about Mizzou Med School if you are interested in PBL.

  4. Have you considered Pitt’s MD-PhD program which has an agreement with Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics PhD program. You can get your MD from Pitt, and do your PhD at CMU in Robotics. This seems to fit the bill for math/programming/quantitative science

    • University of Pittsburgh is definitely on the list, though not necessarily for its association with Carnegie Mellon. I haven’t done enough research on schools at this point though, so who knows.

      • I used to work at the Robotics Institute. If there is any place that combines math/programming and innovative scientific applications, it would be the Robotics Institute. Robotics includes more than just mobile and/or facility robots. It includes tons of software techniques. Its really cool stuff and I can’t recommend it enough.

  5. What about UCLA-CalTech’s program? I think you’d be a great fit there!

  6. Honestly, I think this list looks great for you and my advice at this point is to GO FOR IT. You’re aware that what you want to do is a little different so now I’d think a lot about what it is you foresee yourself researching. You will have to write many essays for your app process so better get into the mindset while it’s not too ridiculously stressful. I attend the postbacc at WashU and the med school is great, I can offer some information about it:

    The med school is 20% MSTP (MD/PhD) and research is very, very well-embraced. The faculty is very supportive of a research environment and students who want to get into research at any point in their med school career. If you’re not MSTP you can choose to get a PhD or a Masters in the middle of med school- I know people who’ve done this and WashU has excellent resources for top-notch training.There are a number of research departments and the school surely rakes in millions in funding. This is definitely the place to be if your heart is in research and they will take very good care of you if you choose to train there. The community is into innovation so I think you for sure will like it. The school is numbers-heavy admissions-wise but your MCAT will likely get you noticed. If applying to WashU MSTP you definitely should have some research experience, it could hurt you if you don’t. If anything you could enter and maybe apply for a PhD after you get accepted. All in all, as far as admissions is concerned, they LOVE people who’ve done at least a little research.

    • Thanks. I’ll probably prune a few more and then roll the dice.

      I don’t talk about it too much on here, but I’ve been working with a physician on project which is basically an epidemiological study. I’ve completed most of the heavy lifting and have moved on to preparing a manuscript to submit in a couple of months. I’d be a lot closer to finishing it if I didn’t have to write all of these application essays.

      I’d heard that WashU was heavily focused on numbers, so my MCAT will probably be a good thing, although my cGPA isn’t all that awesome – something like a 3.2 I think. We will see how serious schools are at forgiving past transgressions. Hopefully things work out.

      • If you decide you want to apply in epi/biostats, email me at oldmdgirl at gmail dot com and we can talk. I can probably opine more on the epi than the biostats.

      • Oh yeah, and get that publication out ASAP. The schools will be assessing your potential as a *researcher* and any publication will enhance your application tremendously.

  7. Your school list is fine. Not harder than any other schools. Go for it.

  8. Add UCLA. I am a current MSTP (doing my PhD in one of the basic sciences) but one of my friends is doing work in bioinformatics. Lots of opportunities for that.

    • Yeah, I’m starting to think that some of the most available research is going to be in non-traditional fields like bioinformatics, genomics, computational biology, etc. There just aren’t very many people with suitable backgrounds headed into medicine – you don’t find a lot rocket scientists becoming doctors.

  9. Any thoughts on the application cycle MSO?

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