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ihsh

How to Choose Between Two Summer Opportunities and Turn Down the Supervisor of the Other One?

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Back in January, I emailed a professor at U of T about doing research with him over the summer. Three weeks later (January 22nd), I still hadn't heard back from him, so I contacted a professor at my med school ("Doctor B") to do a 6-week clinical summer studentship with her. Doctor B immediately agreed to apply to the studentship with me, and helped me edit my personal statement. We sent out the application on Monday (February 12th).

Now comes the tricky part:  The U of T prof eventually replied to me and interviewed me last week. Today (Feb 15), he notified me that he would be willing to take me as a summer student, conditional on funding. So now I'm in a very tricky situation because:

  1. Neither opportunities are certain, and I especially have no idea about how competitive the clinical studentship is (as a first-year med student I have very little relevant experience). If I turn down the U of T prof  and am unsuccessful with the clinical studentship, then I'll have nothing to do in the summer. 
  2. Both studentships are in the same subspecialty, but I would personally prefer the U of T position because it provides research experience and it's a 12 week program rather than 6-weeks. However, I'd feel very guilty if I get the clinical studentship but end up turning down Doctor B. For that program, each supervisor can submit a maximum of two applications, and I could be "wasting" one of her spots. Given that Doctor B is the head of her department at my med school, I'm afraid that I will be "black-listed" from the department in the future.

I realize that the situation could have been avoided if I had been more open with my communication with both supervisors, but unfortunately I hadn't because of all the uncertainty.  

Should I move forward with the U o T prof, and if so, should I inform Doctor B before the application statuses are out (which is in early April)?

I would appreciate any advice or suggestions regarding how I should handle the situation.  Thanks in advance!

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Summer while attending medical school are precious and this time will never ever come again. I used my summers for R & R and did not suffer whatsoever at CaRMS time and was accepted to a competitive surgical specialty.

If I were you I would take Dr B for 2 reasons. Firstly 6 weeks is preferable to 12 weeks as it gives you precious time for R & R. Secondly, if you refuse Dr. B and wish to advance yourself with her dept at CaRMS time, you will be spinning your wheels, wasting your time and regret having gone to the other prof.

This is one opinion.

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I can tell you secretly want to go with UofT prof, which is why you emailed UofT prof first and why you wrote the sentence "should i move forward with the UofT prof?.."

However, I would go with Doctor B.

3 reasons

1. It is really crucial you stand in good stead at your home program when you apply for residency, even if you do not want to remain at your home program. It is where you are going to get most of your references and it is where people will go when they want to find out more about you and your reputation. At this point, declining Doctor B looks bad. If your home school doesn't like you, its not a good sign. 

2. Ultimately, I do think summer is a great time to do research. You actually have time off and the one big advantage I see in you staying at your home school is that you can continue this research during the school year. Doing research at UofT may help you get into UofT for residency, but you are less likely to get publications because you are not their student, you aren't "present" during the school year. Research is rarely something you start and finish in 12 weeks, even clinical research. It takes time, you are always waiting and lets be honest, research isn't always a doctor's day job (more often than not it isn't), thus expect delays.

3. The last advantage goes to what Bambi said, you also need to take time off during the summer. 6 weeks give you R&R. It also will be more productive because you can continue this research and actually get published while working on it part-time in the school year. Additionally, you will be able to get involved in new projects if you do well in your first few projects. I know those who get 6-7 pubs throughout medical school and not a single one of those people got that many by working in an institution outside their home institution. That looks way better when it comes to CaRMS time, for every school. 

 

 

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Thank you both for your inputs! 

Given that I don't know if the application with Dr. B will be successful, should I still move forward with the U of T prof and then decline afterwards if things work out with Dr. B? Or should I explain my situation to him and see whether he would still like to proceed? 

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24 minutes ago, ihsh said:

Thank you both for your inputs! 

Given that I don't know if the application with Dr. B will be successful, should I still move forward with the U of T prof and then decline afterwards if things work out with Dr. B? Or should I explain my situation to him and see whether he would still like to proceed? 

Add my vote for Dr. B.

 

With the above question, it appears that you still prefer U of T, but I would *not* move forward with the U of T prof because if you get both positions, you would be in that sticky situation of having to choose between them and the conversation with whoever you are turning down will be even more difficult. Even if you don't get the 6 week summer studentship with Dr. B, it seems like she is invested in you enough that you might be able to arrange something else with her.

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24 minutes ago, ihsh said:

Thank you both for your inputs! 

Given that I don't know if the application with Dr. B will be successful, should I still move forward with the U of T prof and then decline afterwards if things work out with Dr. B? Or should I explain my situation to him and see whether he would still like to proceed? 

You should tell him that you applied to another teacher because he couldn't be bothered to reply to you 3+ weeks. Do you really want to be doing research with someone who can't be bothered to answer you vs someone who was completely willing to accept you from the beginning? Also, it would be completely disrespectful to accept Dr B's offer and have him help you with your application before turning him down. As previously mentioned, I'm pretty sure you'd be out of that program come CaRMS season.

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If your reasons for wanting to start a new application behind Dr. B's back are that you really want a research component and are afraid that you will not have a position if the studentship application is not successful, why not approach Dr. B with your concerns? If she is the head of the department, she may have backup sources of funding or be able to arrange more research opportunities for you. Remember that subspecialties (and specialties, and indeed medicine in general) are very small fields. Department heads in particular are likely to know multiple people at each program in Canada. Not sure what your ultimate goal in this summer research is - but a potential boon if you are interested in this specialty in the future, and on the flip side, a lapse in judgment may scuttle more than your residency chances at one school.

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