PhD then MD?


Nice to sign up.

I have been working to overcome a first bachelor’s degree GPA for five years now in order to get into an MD program in the US, and I prefer either the University of Alabama SOM or the University of South Alabama medical school. Here’s my saga.

I have a degree in Chemistry with the American Chemical Society’s certification from the University of North Alabama. In other words an acreditied BS, it has 175 hours with only a 2.26 GPA. I changed my major late and was a senior for three years. After 12 years in the environmental lab testing business, I needed to move on. To overcome my past I have done the following:

I went back to UNA and received a 2nd bachelor’s degree majoring in biology. I took very heavy loads in science and completed 95 hours in 2.5 years with a 3.526 GPA! Next I went to a junior college and received an EMT-Basic certification, passed the nation registry exam and have a current AL license (i.e. I could work as an EMT-Basic if I wanted to). Next I got into a program at Boston University, an MA in Medical Sciences. This is simply a graduate level post baccalaureate degree. I got sick with the flu, twice; and missed so much class that I had to take a medical leave of absence. That means I had to stay gone for a year which ends in Nov. I have been studying for the MCAT, and took it recently. I was not able to be 100% ready for it and feel I made all 8’s in each section. I feel I need to make at least 10s in each section along with a good writing score to be competitive for any MD program.

My situation is since this score counts for at least three years, and I’m positive its bad, should I pursue a PhD in a biomedical sciences program (like biomedical neuroscience at BU or basic medical science at Purdue)and then attain a good MCAT score, and lastly apply to medical school? I understand that the research opportunity a PhD gives, would help someone like me gain an edge up on the tradition med students when it comes time to compete for a residency program after medical school? Finishing high in your graduating class from an MD program, having a good score on the step 1 of the USMLE, I think is what one need to get the residency they want. I have discovered that the last thing to have an edge-up on the traditional meds is research, which a PhD would provide.

What do you all think? What should I do? I feel a DO would limit my residency choices. I am trying to think this whole thing through, thats why it may seem I have extrapolated from: how to get in to medical school all the way to how to get the residency I want after medical school. Also, I spent allot of money for nothing when I took my medical leave from BU. I got all W’s in my classes and would like to go back there and show what I can do academically. A PhD program would not cost me anything if I can get it paid for by the school. Any program I would consider would give me a stipend to live on as well, and hopefully the research opportunity a PhD provides should pay off in the long run. What I am talking about is doing a PhD/MD basically by finishing the PhD first. Most PhD programs in the biomedical sciences, neurosciences, anatomy, physiology, and biophysics are offered at medical schools which would allow me to take medical school classes with the current students. If I get into say BUMC, I would not have to repeat any completed courses as a medical school student if I have already completed them as a PhD student. I may have to become a full time state resident in whatever state I’m in and forget about the Al schools, however. The biggest draw back is the time to get a PhD. I’m 41 years old. I am also wondering if when you get a PhD, how many post-docs do you have to do before you can get an academic teaching job realistically? This is in case I decide to teach rather than go to medical school.

Thanks for reading all of this and let me know.

I think an entire PhD is overkill for a bad MCAT and 12-year-old bad grades. Your second bachelors has already shown you have academic ability. If you didn’t get a good MCAT score and feel there is room for improved preparation, study your patootie off and take it again. Besides, most people come out of the MCAT feeling they did badly; you could be wrong.

I can’t comment on the advanced degree, or the teaching requirements, but I would say going back to BU partly because you spent a lot of money there and want to get your money’s worth now (a perhaps inaccurate paraphrase of part of your motivation) is wasting your energy thinking about the past. Think about what you want to do with your life NOW and focus on the best ways to get there.

I think a new, kick-butt MCAT score is probably your best strategy at this point.

Thanks for the advice. My first degree was actually 17 years ago, its just too bad AMCAS still averages everything. The DO school will just take the higher grades from the classes I recently repeated. I am just scared of not getting the residency I want? I just want to give myself the best chance. Those MCAT score are good for 2 to 3 years and I just thought working on a PhD. during that time rather than work as an EMT and studying for the MCAT, should I need to retake it, would be a plan? Thanks again for your advice, I will consider it and you are right, I do want my money’s worth from BU.