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“Preparing for and Applying to PhD, MD/PhD and MD Programs: A Dean’s Perspective” John Jay College November 3, 2011 Joel D. Oppenheim, Ph.D. Senior Associate.

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Presentation on theme: "“Preparing for and Applying to PhD, MD/PhD and MD Programs: A Dean’s Perspective” John Jay College November 3, 2011 Joel D. Oppenheim, Ph.D. Senior Associate."— Presentation transcript:

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2 “Preparing for and Applying to PhD, MD/PhD and MD Programs: A Dean’s Perspective” John Jay College November 3, 2011 Joel D. Oppenheim, Ph.D. Senior Associate Dean for Biomedical Sciences NYU School of Medicine

3 Topics to discuss…. Introductions Introductions What Program Should You Be applying To? What Program Should You Be applying To? College preparation College preparation Who is looking for what Who is looking for what Medical School Information Medical School Information Application Strategies Application Strategies

4 PhD, MD, or MD/PhD?

5 The Biomedical Enterprise The Spectrum Physical Sciences Basic Biological Sciences Integrative Biological Sciences Disease- Oriented Research Patient- Oriented Research Patient Care Rod Ulane- NYU School of Medicine

6 The Physical Sciences Mathematics Mathematics Physics Physics Chemistry Chemistry Computational Sciences Computational Sciences PhD, (MD/PhD),((MD)) Rod Ulane- NYU School of Medicine

7 The Basic Biological Sciences Molecular Genetics Molecular Genetics Cell Signaling Cell Signaling Structural Biology Structural Biology PhD, MD/PhD,(MD) Rod Ulane- NYU School of Medicine

8 The Integrative Biological Sciences Cell biology Cell biology Developmental Biology Developmental Biology Physiology Physiology Immunology Immunology Neurosciences Neurosciences Evolutionary Biology Evolutionary Biology PhD,MD/PhD,(MD) Rod Ulane- NYU School of Medicine

9 Disease-Oriented Research Cancer Biology Cancer Biology Sickle Cell Anemia Sickle Cell Anemia Cardiovascular Disease Cardiovascular Disease Auto-Immune Disease Auto-Immune Disease Alzheimer’s Disease Alzheimer’s Disease PhD,MD/PhD,MD Rod Ulane- NYU School of Medicine

10 Patient-Oriented Research *Hypothesis-Driven Congenital Disorders Congenital Disorders Aortic Aneurisms Aortic Aneurisms Auto-Immune Disease Auto-Immune Disease Cardiovascular Disease Cardiovascular Disease MD/PhD,MD Rod Ulane- NYU School of Medicine

11 Patient-Oriented Research *Observational Epidemiological Studies Epidemiological Studies Environmental Studies Environmental Studies Drug Trials Drug Trials Longitudinal Studies Longitudinal Studies Outcomes Research Outcomes Research MD,(MD/PhD) Rod Ulane- NYU School of Medicine

12 Patient Care History and Physical History and Physical Diagnosis Diagnosis Treatment Treatment MD, (MD/PhD) Rod Ulane- NYU School of Medicine

13 The Biomedical Enterprise The Spectrum...Revisited Physical Sciences Basic Biological Sciences Integrative Biological Sciences Disease- Oriented Research Patient- Oriented Research Patient Care PhD MD/PhD MD Rod Ulane- NYU School of Medicine

14 Preparation

15 Freshman & Sophomore Years Take broad spectrum of introductory sciences courses (including laboratories): biology, chemistry, physics, math, computer sciences Take broad spectrum of introductory sciences courses (including laboratories): biology, chemistry, physics, math, computer sciences Take courses which help develop skills in reading comprehension, writing and public speaking Take courses which help develop skills in reading comprehension, writing and public speaking For MD or MD/PhD For MD or MD/PhD arrange at least one hospital experience which includes patient contact sometime during your sophomore or junior year arrange at least one hospital experience which includes patient contact sometime during your sophomore or junior year Participate in a meaningful community service activity Participate in a meaningful community service activity Take a leadership role in some university related activity Take a leadership role in some university related activity Establish a good relationship with your school’s health careers or undergraduate research advisors Establish a good relationship with your school’s health careers or undergraduate research advisors Get involved in research at your home institution and begin to think of off-campus research experiences (i.e. summer programs), especially at schools that you are considering applying to Get involved in research at your home institution and begin to think of off-campus research experiences (i.e. summer programs), especially at schools that you are considering applying to Make sure that you do not over-extend yourself and remember that Make sure that you do not over-extend yourself and remember that ACADEMICS COME FIRST!!!

16 “REALITY CHECK” Somewhere between the end of the second year and the end of the third year you must ask yourself: “Have I prepared myself appropriately and do I have a strong enough record to apply for the graduate or professional program in which I am interested?” If the answer is “no” it is time to candidly re-examine your career goals, your learning strategies or your educational goals

17 Junior Year Take advanced level science courses: biochemistry, cell biology, molecular biology, genetics, microbiology, physiology, organic chemistry,, etc. These courses will prepare your foundation for all graduate and medical school curriculum Take advanced level science courses: biochemistry, cell biology, molecular biology, genetics, microbiology, physiology, organic chemistry,, etc. These courses will prepare your foundation for all graduate and medical school curriculum Take liberal arts courses that expand your comprehension, communication and critical/analytical reasoning skills: e.g. economics, history, literature, philosophy, etc. Take liberal arts courses that expand your comprehension, communication and critical/analytical reasoning skills: e.g. economics, history, literature, philosophy, etc. Expand your research experiences Expand your research experiences For PhD and MD/PhD you must carry out in depth research at your home institution For PhD and MD/PhD you must carry out in depth research at your home institution Summer research programs (summers between your sophomore and senior years) Summer research programs (summers between your sophomore and senior years) Chose a program directed at your career interest Chose a program directed at your career interest Chose a program at a school you are interested in attending Chose a program at a school you are interested in attending

18 Junior Year… Begin preparation for MCAT or GRE: take preparation courses (Kaplan, Princeton Review, etc.), Begin preparation for MCAT or GRE: take preparation courses (Kaplan, Princeton Review, etc.), MCAT is a computerized exam which is given 22 x a year beginning in January; it should be taken before you submit your AMCAS application MCAT is a computerized exam which is given 22 x a year beginning in January; it should be taken before you submit your AMCAS application GRE exams are also computerized and you can take most any time; fall of your senior year is most common; also must check if schools require a subject test GRE exams are also computerized and you can take most any time; fall of your senior year is most common; also must check if schools require a subject test

19 Senior Year Submit your applications early (be realistic in your choice of programs) Submit your applications early (be realistic in your choice of programs) File AMCAS application for MD or MD/PhD by earliest possible date File AMCAS application for MD or MD/PhD by earliest possible date (early June); apply to ~10-12 schools File individual grad school applications in early fall; apply to 6-8 schools File individual grad school applications in early fall; apply to 6-8 schools If possible, visit the schools that interest you before applying If possible, visit the schools that interest you before applying For MD and MD/PhD applicants expect the fall semester to be very demanding (and expensive): be sure to take this into account when planning class schedules and other social commitments; most MD/PhD interviews are between Sept 15 - Jan 30 For MD and MD/PhD applicants expect the fall semester to be very demanding (and expensive): be sure to take this into account when planning class schedules and other social commitments; most MD/PhD interviews are between Sept 15 - Jan 30 PhD interviews are usually paid for by the visiting school; between Jan 15 -March 15 PhD interviews are usually paid for by the visiting school; between Jan 15 -March 15 For PhD and MD/PhD bound students be sure to take advanced level science courses, especially those which are research and techniques oriented and complete any ongoing research projects For PhD and MD/PhD bound students be sure to take advanced level science courses, especially those which are research and techniques oriented and complete any ongoing research projects Take “life-enriching” courses that you will enjoy: art history, religion, etc. Take “life-enriching” courses that you will enjoy: art history, religion, etc. Be sure to graduate! Be sure to graduate!

20 Who’s looking for what?

21 What students should be looking for Academic Considerations: Does the program offer a curriculum that meets your needs Does the program offer a curriculum that meets your needs MD programs: MD programs: - traditional or problem based learning - research or primary care based medical school PhD programs: umbrella vs. departmental PhD programs: umbrella vs. departmental PhD and MD/PhD programs - are there sufficient faculty choices in the research areas you are interested in - is there flexibility within the PhD to change directions Do you feel comfortable with the program’s structure and organization; this is especially important for MD/PhD applicants Do you feel comfortable with the program’s structure and organization; this is especially important for MD/PhD applicants Are there adequate university research support systems to carry out the type of research you are interested in (library, computer facilities, specialized equipment, etc.) Are there adequate university research support systems to carry out the type of research you are interested in (library, computer facilities, specialized equipment, etc.)

22 What students should be looking for… Special MD Considerations Does the school offer (and/or encourage) specialized programs that could enhance your medical school experience: Does the school offer (and/or encourage) specialized programs that could enhance your medical school experience: combined degree programs (MD/MPH, MD/MA, MD/JD, etc.) combined degree programs (MD/MPH, MD/MA, MD/JD, etc.) research opportunities for medical students (NIH Honors Programs, HHMI, Sarnoff, etc.) research opportunities for medical students (NIH Honors Programs, HHMI, Sarnoff, etc.) international clerkships international clerkships educational and clinical opportunities outside the normal curriculum (humanities and social science events) educational and clinical opportunities outside the normal curriculum (humanities and social science events)

23 What students should be looking for… Financial Considerations Can you afford it….This is not usually a consideration for students pursuing PhD and MD/PhD programs, but is a major issue for MD applicants (though it really does not have to be) Can you afford it….This is not usually a consideration for students pursuing PhD and MD/PhD programs, but is a major issue for MD applicants (though it really does not have to be) Anyone can afford to go to medical school… It becomes a question of how much debt you are welling to incur (the average medical school graduate in has a debt of >$160,000) Anyone can afford to go to medical school… It becomes a question of how much debt you are welling to incur (the average medical school graduate in has a debt of >$160,000) There are many ways of financing your medical education (loans, stipends, work study). Seek the help of the Financial Aid Office There are many ways of financing your medical education (loans, stipends, work study). Seek the help of the Financial Aid Office Alternate ways of funding your education (i.e. National Loan Repayment Program, Armed Forces and PHS support, etc.) Alternate ways of funding your education (i.e. National Loan Repayment Program, Armed Forces and PHS support, etc.)

24 What students should be looking for... Other Considerations Geographic location of the school Geographic location of the school Campus environment Campus environment Size of the class Size of the class Appropriate support systems (advisors, tutoring-services, etc.) Appropriate support systems (advisors, tutoring-services, etc.) Diversity of student body Diversity of student body Record on residency placement of MD graduates Record on residency placement of MD graduates Intangibles for PhD and MD/PhD Intangibles for PhD and MD/PhD - time to degree (national average 6 yrs for PhD, 8 yrs for MD/PhD) - % completions  Record on placement of graduates - MD and MD/PhD: Residency placement - PhD: postdocs, industry, government, etc - outcomes (# in academic positions)

25 What schools are looking for Strong undergraduate academic performance as indicated by Strong undergraduate academic performance as indicated by Strength of course load & GPA (compared to other candidates from the same institution) Strength of course load & GPA (compared to other candidates from the same institution) MCAT or GRE scores MCAT or GRE scores For PhD and MD/PhD applicants, sustained research experience(s) For PhD and MD/PhD applicants, sustained research experience(s) Letters of Recommendation from appropriate individuals (and/or Committee Letter) Letters of Recommendation from appropriate individuals (and/or Committee Letter) Strongly motivated students, who understand why they are applying Strongly motivated students, who understand why they are applying Students who can clearly express themselves both in writing and orally Students who can clearly express themselves both in writing and orally For MD applicants, students who understand the social and economic For MD applicants, students who understand the social and economic implications of the career they have chosen and who have demonstrated leadership capabilities implications of the career they have chosen and who have demonstrated leadership capabilities

26 What schools are looking for… For PhD applicants, superior preparation in the discipline for which the student is applying For PhD applicants, superior preparation in the discipline for which the student is applying For MD/PhD applicants, an understanding of why you are applying to a combined program For MD/PhD applicants, an understanding of why you are applying to a combined program

27 Medical School Information

28 National Applicant Data: for Fall 2010 By Gender and Ethnicity Total Number of MD Applicants 42,742* Total Number of MD Applicants 42,742* MD/PhD Applicants 1,703 (4%) By Gender: By Gender: Male22,534 (53%) Female20,207 (47%) Underrepresented students 6,393 (~15.5%) Underrepresented students 6,393 (~15.5%) Hispanic 3271 Hispanic 3271 Black 3475 Native American 415 Non US & Perm Res 1,706 Non US & Perm Res 1,706 *From AAMC database (1.1% increase over 2009)

29 MCAT (mean ave.) GPA (mean ave.) - Science - Non Science ApplicantsMatriculates 27.8/O30.8/P 3.49 3.39 3.62 3.65 3.59 3.73 *Source AAMC database National Applicant Data: Fall 2010 Applicant vs. Matriculate Data*

30 National Applicant Data: Fall 2010 Medical School Matriculants* Total:MD & MD/PhD18,665 (43.6%)** Total:MD & MD/PhD18,665 (43.6%)** MD/PhD 612 (3.2%) By Gender: By Gender: Male 9,909 (53.1%) Female 8,756 (46.9%) Underrepresented students 3141 (16.1%) Underrepresented students 3141 (16.1%) Non US Citizen & Perm Res 281 (1.3%) Non US Citizen & Perm Res 281 (1.3%) *AAMC Database **1.5% increase in matriculants due to 3 new medical schools

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32 Medical Student Qualities: Admissions Assessment Professionalism Academics Interpersonal Skills Motivation/ Investigative Mind Experience □ Interpersonal Communication □ Empathy / Compassion □ Teamwork Skills □ Teaching Skills □ GPA/MCAT Scores □ Problem solving / analytical reasoning □ Academic Improvement □ Consistency □ Work ethic/Discipline □ Integrity □ Maturity/Insight □ Time management skills □ Ethical Decision- Making □ Cultural Competency/Sensitivity □ Commitment to Service □ Leadership □ Care of underserved □ Exposure to different cultures/ diversity □ Patient Care Experience □ Extracurricular Activities □ Scientific aptitude □ Intellectual Curiosity □ Enthusiasm □ Self-Motivation

33 Academic Requirements for Applying to Medical School* Biologyminimum 6 semester hours Biologyminimum 6 semester hours Englishminimum 6 semester hours Englishminimum 6 semester hours Inorganic Chemistry (with lab)minimum 6 semester hours Inorganic Chemistry (with lab)minimum 6 semester hours Organic Chemistry (with lab)minimum 6 semester hours Organic Chemistry (with lab)minimum 6 semester hours General Physics (with lab)minimum 6 semester hours General Physics (with lab)minimum 6 semester hours Recommended Additional Courses: mathematics (including calculus), quantitative and physical chemistry, biochemistry, and molecular genetics Recommended Additional Courses: mathematics (including calculus), quantitative and physical chemistry, biochemistry, and molecular genetics * AMA-AAMC and State of New York Requirements * AMA-AAMC and State of New York Requirements

34 Strategies for Applying

35 Strategies on Applying to Medical School The best strategy is to have a 4.0 GPA, have a MCAT score of 45/T, have great letters of recommendation, have carried out research, and have spent countless hours in medical environments and to be a mature, well rounded individual. If you don’t totally fit this profile then to optimize your chances it is recommended you follow some, if not all, of the following suggestions: The best strategy is to have a 4.0 GPA, have a MCAT score of 45/T, have great letters of recommendation, have carried out research, and have spent countless hours in medical environments and to be a mature, well rounded individual. If you don’t totally fit this profile then to optimize your chances it is recommended you follow some, if not all, of the following suggestions:

36 Strategies… Be sure to take the MCAT examination in your 3rd year Be sure to take the MCAT examination in your 3rd year It is strongly recommended that you take a MCAT prep course before taking this exam It is strongly recommended that you take a MCAT prep course before taking this exam Apply to schools through the AMCAS process at the earliest possible date (~1 st Monday in June) Apply to schools through the AMCAS process at the earliest possible date (~1 st Monday in June) If you receive a Secondary Applications, be sure they are resubmitted ASAP If you receive a Secondary Applications, be sure they are resubmitted ASAP Be sure to have people who know you well write letters of recommendation for you Be sure to have people who know you well write letters of recommendation for you

37 Strategies… If you have had some academic problems request that those individuals writing your letters of recommendations address these issues in their letters If you have had some academic problems request that those individuals writing your letters of recommendations address these issues in their letters Apply to schools that may know you (from summer programs, where you have volunteered, where you have carried out research, etc.) Apply to schools that may know you (from summer programs, where you have volunteered, where you have carried out research, etc.) Apply to a sufficient number of schools (10-15) that are in a range and that you are competitive for Apply to a sufficient number of schools (10-15) that are in a range and that you are competitive for Apply to resident state university or private universities and not to non- resident state universities Apply to resident state university or private universities and not to non- resident state universities

38 The Parts of Your Application “Package” THIS IS A HOLISTIC PROCESS! EACH SEGMENT IS IMPORTANT Application Forms for MD/PhD (entirely electronic) Application Forms for MD/PhD (entirely electronic) - Primary AMCAS - Individual school secondary applications - Additional essays (Primary) Application forms for PhD (mostly electronic) Application forms for PhD (mostly electronic) Transcripts Transcripts Letters of recommendation (and/or Committee Letter) Letters of recommendation (and/or Committee Letter) Statements (essays) Statements (essays) National Examination results: MCAT & GRE National Examination results: MCAT & GRE

39 Non-issues When Applying to Medical School Age Age Gender Gender Race or Ethnicity Race or Ethnicity Marital Status Marital Status Financial Status Financial Status

40 What Do I Do if I Don’t Get Accepted to Medical School Apply again Apply again Think of other career possibilities that will satisfy your interests Think of other career possibilities that will satisfy your interests

41 Applying Again Evaluate why you were not accepted Grades Grades MCAT scores MCAT scores Poor or inappropriate letters of recommendation Poor or inappropriate letters of recommendation Weak statement of purpose Weak statement of purpose Interviewed poorly Interviewed poorly Applied to the wrong schools Applied to the wrong schools

42 How to correct the problem(s) low grades: are hard to deal with, you may possibly enroll in a post- baccalaureate or Master’s Program low MCAT scores: repeat the exam but not before you take a prep course poor letters of recommendation: hard to deal with especially if you do not have access to your file—get new letters weak statement of purpose: do you have an adequate understanding of medicine as a career, and are you committed and enthusiastic interviewed poorly: do practice interviews and improve the credentials that will give you more confidence wrong schools: re-evaluate the schools that you applied to, be sure they represent a wide range and are appropriate Applying Again…

43 What to do while you wait to reapply Post baccalaureate program Post baccalaureate program Research program (NIH, Prep) Research program (NIH, Prep) Enroll in a terminal master’s degree program (MPA, MPH, MSW, etc) that will give you a degree which can get you a job Enroll in a terminal master’s degree program (MPA, MPH, MSW, etc) that will give you a degree which can get you a job

44 Useful URL’s American Association of Medical Colleges: http://www.aamc.org American Association of Medical Colleges: http://www.aamc.orghttp://www.aamc.org Official Guide to the MCAT Exam Official Guide to the MCAT Exam Medical School Admission Requirements Medical School Admission Requirements All the data you will need to make an informed choice All the data you will need to make an informed choice GRE info: http://www.gre.org GRE info: http://www.gre.orghttp://www.gre.org

45 Some General Words of Advise Always remember that there are > 20 applicants for every place in most programs…schools/programs are looking for reasons not to accept you… do not give they reasons Always remember that there are > 20 applicants for every place in most programs…schools/programs are looking for reasons not to accept you… do not give they reasons Do not be a high maintenance applicant Do not be a high maintenance applicant It is your responsibility to be sure all documents arrives on, or better yet, before the deadlines It is your responsibility to be sure all documents arrives on, or better yet, before the deadlines Remember, everyone you speak to or meet during the application/admissions process, whether that be a secretary or professor, can impact your acceptance…treat everyone with respect Remember, everyone you speak to or meet during the application/admissions process, whether that be a secretary or professor, can impact your acceptance…treat everyone with respect

46 GOOD LUCK TO ALL OF YOU! With my thanks to Drs. Jocelyn Spragg, Roger Chalkeley and Rod Ulane as well as the countless students, faculty and administrators who I have learned from over the years.


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