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Leaving med school for grad school...would I be competitive?


So long story short, I am strongly considering leaving medical school following my first year. I haven't enjoyed it at all and really miss research. As such, I was wondering what my chances would be a genomics/bioinformatics (my area of undergraduate research) PhD programs?

GPA: 3.77

GRE: none yet (MCAT was 94th percentile)

Research: 1 late author pub in prestigious journal, 1 second author pub clinical journal, 1 talk national conference, 1 talk national undergrad conference, 2 clinical posters

Awards: Dean's award (most outstanding graduating bio major), won undergrad research grant, was the school nomination for Phi Kappa Phi national award

Other: tutored for 3 years

Red flags: leaving medical school after a year

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You could probably get into a good grad school with your research experience and overall profile.


However, my advice would be to stick it out, and I’ll tell you why. First for background, I went pharmacy school -> grad school, and so a few years ago, I found myself in a very similar position to you. I found research enthralling, and I enjoyed the clinical aspects much less so. But then I talked to phD faculty at my the school, and I decided to stick it out. Here’s why and why I’d suggest the same to you (list is in no particular order).

1) you can do research during med school. My brother is in med school and he’s doing research between MS1 and MS2. Additionally, most schools have research programs between Ms2 and ms3 as well as a “research” elective clerkship/rotation. Reach out to faculty at your school that do research that interests you and see if they’ll take you. You can start during the semester and learn the basics between/after classes to start.

2) you can do research after med school. You can choose to enter a phd program after med school (you’d be a shoe in to top programs then. They love clinician scientists). If you don’t want to do a phd after, you don’t have to. Post residency, you can do a research fellowship. I know of plenty of fantastic scientists that are MDs.

3) you put so much work into getting into med school, and 3 more years to get that MD is not that long in the grand scheme of your life. Med school is hard. It’s not supposed to be fun. Some people may be enjoying it more than you but that doesn’t mean you need to abandon ship. Find a research lab, and use it as an escape from the stress of med school. That’s how I got through pharmacy school.

4) job prospects. I’m not sure where you’d like to end up, but academia is extremely competitive as I’m sure you’ve heard. Having a clinical degree gives you a huge leg up in terms of academia jobs. Med schools love having physician scientist faculty. Additionally, you will always have that clinical degree to fall back on, should a scientist job that interests you not be immediately available.

Edited by cephalexin

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