An Update on the School Search

Hi everyone – hope you all had a great holiday. Happy Thanksgiving!

I’ve spent the majority of the past 3-4 days researching schools and have whittled the list down to these.  I don’t think I could give numerical ranks to them, so I’ve grouped them into three different tiers.  Some of you have contacted me through email or have left comments and I really appreciate it.  Location is sort of a big deal for me, so if any of you have lived in any of these cities, I’d love to hear what your experience has been.  Here they are in no particular order.

Top Tier:

Stanford University School of Medicine
University of Colorado School of Medicine
University of Washington School of Medicine
University of Minnesota Medical School
Duke University School of Medicine
Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine


University of Michigan Medical School
Mayo Medical School
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine
Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health
Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine
University of Virginia School of Medicine
Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth
Baylor College of Medicine


University of Arizona College of Medicine
University of Kansas School of Medicine
University of Nebraska College of Medicine
University of Utah School of Medicine
Medical College of Wisconsin
Yale University School of Medicine


19 Responses

  1. Hey I’m an undergrad going to UW (Washington) right now. I think that overall, Seattle is not a bad place to live. If you live in a non-rainy place, then getting an umbrella would be a wise choice. In terms of the city if you don’t go out too late at night in a shady part of town by yourself, you’re fine. There’s a lot of places to shop and hang out and if you want to do extra curricular, we have some pretty good clubs on campus (I have three grad students in my tennis club). Also, we have the top school (#1!) in primary care if that matters to you and our rehabilitation department in our hospital is 4th in the nation (both of those ranking from US News and World Report ranking).

    • What’s the cycling scene in Seattle like?

      • UW is very big on underserved populations- since it appears you would be an OOS applicant, make sure you include something about that in your app. Yes, Seattle loves cyclists- in fact, mayor McGinn is nickanmed McSchwinn.

        And forgo the umbrella- nothing screams “I’m not from around here!” more than a bumbershoot- you’ll never see the locals use them.

  2. Would you mind if I asked some of my MD/PhD classmates where they applied and their decision making process? I think we have students who interviewed/were accepted at each of the schools on your list in all 8 years, so I’d be happy to poll the group, so to speak.

    • Of course. That would be awesome. I love crowd-sourcing. If you would prefer, feel free to PM their thoughts.

  3. Suggestions:


    If you like cycling, you should consider Philadelphia.

    • I second UCSF and looking into the Philly schools. OHSU and UW (and anything in Cali) love their cyclists.

      • The cost of living in California puts me off a little bit. Don’t most Philadelphia schools tend to be in the deep urban areas?

      • I guess it depends on what you mean by “deep urban.” It is true that Temple is located in a bad neighborhood, but Penn is located in West Philly, and is about 400 feet away from Center City. Mostly rich white people live in the areas surrounding it, if that is what you mean. Jefferson is in Center City. Drexel is in W. Philly right next to Penn and Center City. Most of Philadelphia is nothing like Manhattan, and if you don’t like “urban” then Yale, UW, and Baylor shouldn’t be on your list either.

      • The issue is unfortunately more or less a coastal problem – my girl doesn’t want to live anywhere on the east coast at all. She seems to think that urban living on the east coast is miserable, but will be free of any problems at all on the west coast. Not sure how realistic it is, but that’s more or less the problem.

      • Also just thought — What about Univ of Rochester?

      • Good point. I’ve looked at some of the upstate New York schools, but haven’t had a chance to look over them much in detail. Right now, I’m letting school choices sit for a bit while I work on my committee letter application – in order to get a letter of recommendation from my post-bacc institution, I have to complete an enormous application with something like 15 pages of essays to write and a host of other things. Allegedly, it helps with secondary applications quite a bit, but it’s a huge drain on my time. I’ve also got about a zillion and one things that have to get done at work before the Christmas holiday. Not a lot of time left for looking at schools. I’ll start giving it a lot more thought once this application is complete.

  4. Don’t know if you’ve thought about it, or that it matters to you, but finance is something to consider when applying to 21 schools. That’s an additional $30 odd dollars for each school, plus around $100 for secondary applications. You’ll get an interview at least a quarter of them, that’s airfare and hotels. The expense of applying to that many schools adds up really quick. I’d start looking now at non-academic things that matter to you about the school, such as cycling, and narrow the list down to a dozen.

    • I agree with you about the cost of application. I’m going to narrow it down to a lot less than 21 programs.

  5. My boyfriend is in the MD/PhD program at Yale. He really, really likes it. It’s not without it’s flaws, of course, but as a whole, it’s been a very positive experience. Rent is reasonable and there is a lot of very yummy eateries around town. It’s close to the shore and not super urban (IMO). His roomate is very into biking and doesn’t seem to have a problem doing so around New Haven. Apparently it’s a dangerous city, which is too bad because I think it has a lot of character, but I always enjoy visiting him there.

    • I had considered the program at Yale and decided against it for a couple of reasons. It didn’t seem as if there were a lot of opportunities for research in the areas I’m interested and my girl is decidedly against living in that area. Interesting thought about the rent being reasonable though – I’d have thought that the cost of living there would be enormous.

  6. Hi Odyssey,

    I think Baylor College of Medicine is a very good choice. The school is located in the Houston Medical center (next to UT Houston medical school).

    The cost of living is reasonable. An acquaintance who graduated from Stanford and then attended BCM decided to buy a condo near the school because of the low price. She sold it once she graduated and moved out of the city.

    There are a few myths about the city. The only one that is true is that it is hot and humid most of the time. But you don’t have to worry because there are no houses or apartments without air conditioning.

    The cycling scene is okay in the medical center and downtown (which is near the medical center). However, if you decide to ride your bike in other parts of Houston, you will probably not enjoy it because truck loving cowboys will run you over (I am kidding :))

    • I second that. I have heard good things about Baylor college of Medicine. High board scores and relatively low tuition just to name a few. Apparently BCM is the cheapest private medical school in the country; about $32, 000 for non-residents and $19, 000 for Texas residents. The weather may be the only downside, but the cost of leaving in Houston makes up for it.

  7. noticed that the Chicago schools on your previous list dropped off. Much more affordable place to live than NYC, San Francisco, or Boston. great cycling on the lakeshore (I’m not a cyclist but know friends who are). Also a lot of schools to choose from (went to Northwestern myself).

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