MSTP Applications

On July 27, 2017, APSA held a session focused on MSTP applications featuring three MSTP program directors: Dr. Skip Brass (University of Pennsylvania), Dr. Robin Lorenz (University of Alabama Birmingham), and Dr. Kerry O'Banion (University of Rochester).  We asked them frequently asked questions about MSTP applications.  Hear their answers:

What do you look for in a prospective MD/PhD student?          

Dr. Lorenz

Dr. Brass

 

Does the MD/PhD admissions panel prefer if you have a variety of research experiences, i.e. from multiple different labs, or if you have long term commitment to a single lab where you are in charge of your own project?

Dr. Lorenz 

                               

Dr. O’Banion

What exactly is MSTP? Is it focused on medical scientists or inclusive to all MD/PhD programs?

Dr. Brass 

 

Discuss the advantages of physician-scientist training and why you all specifically chose this pathway.

Dr. Lorenz 

Will the career of an MD who runs their own research lab be different from that of an MD/PhD who also runs their own lab and if so, how?

Dr. O’Banion

Dr. Brass

                               

Dr. Lorenz

 

What constitutes a healthy MD/PhD or MSTP program?

Dr. O’Banion

                 

Dr. Lorenz

Many of our PhD-specific secondary applications ask us to further describe our long-term research interests. Do you find that the most successful applicants and MD/PhD students have a detailed idea of what their future clinical or basic science investigation will entail, or do most programs encourage exploring other scientific areas?

Dr. Brass

    

Dr. O’Banion

With undergraduate students interested in MD/PhD programs spending significantly more time in the lab in undergrad than MD-interested students, do you see other parts of the potential MD/PhD student’s application that lack compared to an MD application, and if so, how can this be fixed?

Dr. Lorenz

           

How does clinical research experience compare with wet lab experience when considering applicants?

Dr. O’Banion

Dr. Brass

Do most MD/PhD’s tend to lean more toward one end? Do they focus more on their clinical practicing or their research or is it fairly balanced?

Dr. Brass

And would you say that’s more commonly basic science research or is clinical research a viable career path for an MD/PhD?

Dr. Brass

Can you tell us about the timeline of completing a program and about the different timeline options that exist across the country?

Dr. Lorenz

Dr. O’Banion

What research questions do you feel can be answered by an MD/PhD program as opposed to only a PhD?

Dr. Lorenz

Dr. Brass

Dr. O’Banion

As physician-scientists, what are some of the obstacles you face, especially dealing with knitting together the clinical and basic science parts?

Dr. Brass

Dr. Lorenz

Can you offer any specific or practical advice about the application process for students applying to social science/humanities MD/PhD programs?

Dr. Brass

Do you commonly see MD/PhDs passionate in global health? How can they pursue these passions?

Dr. Lorenz

Who should get a master’s in public health versus a PhD?

Dr. Lorenz

I have seen that MD/PhD applicants often have to be accepted separately to medical school and to the PhD program; is this the same for MSTPs or is that a single-admission process?

Dr. Brass

Dr. O’Banion

Dr. Lorenz

How does the process change for non-traditional applicants, e.g. those who have recently completed a post-baccalaureate program or those who have taken one or more gap years?

Dr. O’Banion

Would you turn that around and say that it’s almost a recommendation to do either of those things before applying?

Dr. O’Banion

Final words of advice:

Dr. Lorenz

Dr. O’Banion

Dr. Brass

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