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VolumeOverload

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VolumeOverload last won the day on January 17 2017

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  1. Ultimately publications are important anywhere you go and you'll want to go to a lab that will give you the best opportunity to get them, regardless of whether it is in Canada or the US. People often incorrectly assume that means going to work with the biggest names in the field. That certainly looks great on paper but realistically, those PIs tend to have megalabs full of post docs that are constantly churning out data and publications. I'm sure you've seen this firsthand as well. At this stage in your career training, lots of facetime with the boss is an asset so you'll want to find a lab where you can have a balance between strong academic productivity and mentorship opportunity. In my opinion, megalabs are great for postdoc'ing during a research fellowship (in Canada, that would be during residency through the Clinician Investigator Program). Based on your previous post, I'm going to assume your expertise is in basic science. Working with a young-ish PI who has a translational research focus with a medium-sized lab would be a winning combination. The culture in the US is hardcore and I commend the students that do their training there. Some people perform better under constant pressure. Personally, I don't think that kind of environment is necessary to be successful. In my opinion, a strong PhD consists of 3-5 first authored publications in good journals over the 3-5 years you are in training. It's more working with the right person than at the right institution that will get you that. The institutions in your home province have excellent programs and research cultures. The vast majority of Canadian programs are exceptional too. If your circumstances make applying in the US a challenge and you don't want to wait another application cycle, it is my opinion that you are not shooting yourself in the foot by choosing Canada.
  2. OP said they've been involved in research in some capacity since 2011. I would argue they appear to be an excellent PhD candidate...
  3. So I can offer perspective as an actual MD/PhD student at a Canadian university and dispel some of the concerns raised in this discussion: First, yes, the US has lots of well funded programs but it's not as hopeless in Canada as many are making it out to be. I made a post in the past about this but to reiterate, many MD/PhD programs in Canada have financial supports in place. In Calgary, the program covers medical school tuition. If you are externally funded through our provincial agency (which pays $32,000/year), after tuition payments you actually have a fair bit of money left over to sink into living expenses. To that end, I will have zero to very minimal debt after graduation. At the University of Toronto, their MD/PhD students get a stipend of $32,000/year (~14k of which will go to tuition fees). Most if not all Canadian MD/PhD programs have some form of financial assistance exclusive to MD/PhD students. These stipends are often enough to offset tuition and leave a sizeable amount for living expenses (I've listed two examples above, others include UBC, UManitoba and McGill just to name a few.) In the US, do you pay international student tuition? My understanding is that it can be astronomically high in which case you should double check that the financial assistance offered to MD/PhD students is also available to international students. If not , the financial benefits of staying in the US discussed above are irrelevant. I agree that being in a lab under financial constraint is problematic, but the simple answer is don't choose to do your formal graduate training in a lab that is under financial constraint! The signs for that are typically fairly obvious. It's not like you are randomly assigned to a PI. Do your research ahead of time and find someone who will be a good fit with your career aspirations. The MD/PhD students from across the country meet once a year in Toronto (CITAC) and I have yet to find someone who was working on a sinking ship. You have an extensive research background and your grades are good - that alone opens a lot of doors when trying to find a placement. Second, I'm not sure how relevant the soccer analogy is when applying to Canadian programs. All applicants, regardless of whether they are MD or MD/PhD have to go through the same MMI/MPI as part of the MD stream. Some schools like Toronto have a separate interview for the PhD portion. If we go back to the soccer analogy, in that situation you have to demonstrate that you are both an excellent forward and an excellent goalie.
  4. Anecdotal but a friend of mine wrote the exam 6 times before she was was accepted at U of C. Probably didn't help her overall application score but clearly was not detrimental to her getting in. On a side note, I would be very surprised if someone with insight into how the admissions committee evaluates applications disclosed that information on this forum.
  5. I can only speak to question #2. U of C top 10 experiences have a 1000 character limit (including spaces). I think this is something like 200 words (?)
  6. I would be more surprised to find out that someone got in without any of their verifiers contacted, but stranger things have happened... This time last year I sent an email out to my verifiers telling them that there is a chance they might be contacted by U of C soon and one of them replied saying they were already contacted. Not sure that they would've taken the initiative to email me if I didn't prompt them first. I was actually told the same thing. They probably call first and if they don't get anyone, they send an email. I'm sure a lot of applicants have busy people as verifiers and it would be unreasonable to expect that those people can answer their phones at any given time during the day.
  7. Dr. Ian Walker, comments section from the Feb 12, 2016 post: "Verifiers are contacted at random, and we start the process before we have even an prospective rank order list at our disposal, so you can’t predict anything about acceptance / rejection based on whether verifiers have been contacted or not."
  8. Everyone's verifiers will be contacted, regardless of whether or not their cumulative scores warrant an offer of admission/position on the wait list. Your follow-up question will be "Why would they bother contacting the verifiers of individuals who don't stand a chance to get an offer?" Who knows. But they do.
  9. If the individual did 3-4 years (8 hrs/day) of self-directed research during which they designed their own experiments, published (1 pub/year), presented at conferences to a professional audience, oversaw undergrad student projects (not always, but common in my lab) and managed to establish a meaningful mentorship network then yeah I suppose you might be able to forgo formal research training. In my opinion, that route is not realistic. I 100% agree that one should only pursue a PhD if they are interested in academic medicine - I am by no means advocating that everyone should do one or do one as a backdoor into medical school (is that even a thing?) I am simply offering perspective into why doing a PhD during medical school is not as detrimental to your career development as some posts may suggest.
  10. This is simply not true. Most if not all Canadian MD/PhD programs have some form of financial assistance exclusive to MD/PhD students. In many universities, the stipends are enough to offset tuition and leave a sizeable amount for living expenses (I've listed two examples above, others include UBC, UManitoba and McGill just to name a few.)
  11. Possibly, but a PhD gives you a skill set that is broad and fairly transferable. I think the most important goal of research training is to develop your mastery of the scientific process, not necessarily make you an expert in one very niche field. Anecdotally, I find that the vast majority of MD/PhD students within my institute match to areas related to their PhD (the exception being those doing health policy/services type work, in which case they aren't locked into any one specialty). Obviously there are those who are exceptions but even so, consider this: If I'm doing a PhD with a cardiologist, but then match to OBGYN after medical school, my research training does not necessarily lose value. I still know how to design and power a study. I still know how to analyze and interpret data (after all, statistics are not specialty specific...). I still know how to draft a manuscript. Sure I may not initially have a commanding knowledge of the literature, but my PhD training has taught me how to properly survey said literature, identify the gaps in knowledge and ask the appropriate questions. I certainly see the draw of doing a PhD in residency with relevance and salary being the two biggest factors. I think I've addressed the relevancy issue. With respect to salary, I think that's a fair point but I would argue that stopping your clinical training in the middle of your residency is much more disruptive than stopping it in the middle of medical school. Another point on finances, many MD/PhD programs have financial supports in place. In Calgary, the program covers medical school tuition. If you are externally funded through our provincial agency (which pays $32,000/year), after tuition payment you actually have a fair bit of money left over to sink into living expenses. To that end, I will have zero to very minimal debt after graduation. At the University of Toronto, their MD/PhD students get a stipend of $32,000/year (~14k of which will go to tuition fees). So really, the financial sink isn't as bad as some other posters make it out to be.
  12. Yeahhh, I think the majority of those people are using that as a defence mechanism in case they don't get in. The medical school application process can cost hundreds/thousands of dollars (MCAT prep books/courses, MCAT registration fees, application submission fees etc.) For most, you don't just wake up one morning and say "Meh, what the hell, I'll apply to medical school". I think those types of people are just as insecure about the process as everyone else. I think it's great that you've found your passion for medicine before even getting in, but you need to remember that some people discover their passion after spending a few years in the system. These people still go on to become fantastic doctors! On the flip side, there are many people who start medical school with lots of passion and then become super jaded by the time their training is done. I know it's easy to get frustrated when others around you are seemingly non-chalant about the same things you lose sleep over, but the best thing you can do for yourself right now is to think about you. The fact that you got this interview means that someone out there can see you as their doctor or as their colleague. Don't lose sight of that!
  13. U of C will drop the GPA from your worst year of undergrad. If you have your MSc on hand or you will be getting it (ie. have the physical diploma) before the start of classes, they will count all of your years of graduate school as one full year for GPA purposes. We have no idea what your GPA will look like. We have no idea what your MCAT scores will be like. We have no idea what your ECs are. Not sure that anyone can give you a meaningful answer about your chances...
  14. Are you in Calgary? The downtown Scotia has a dedicated advisor who deals with health care students/professionals.
  15. In order to be in Leaders in Medicine you need to have been accepted to both the MD program and the grad program.
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