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So I am contemplating whether I should be doing another gap year or doing a 2 years masters (free with stipend). My application I guess doesn't need any improvements that I am currently not doing now, just happened to get unlucky. It's not that I wouldn't mind doing masters, but I would rather do a masters and get a degree rather than do a gap year that won't build my CV for the long run. Thus will masters significantly help being more competitive for residencies? Just finished a gap year, and I'll be applying very broadly in the US, so there's a much higher chance I will get in with my stats/ECs.
 
 
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Masters are not really great for improving applications, other than if you churn out publications. Most schools won’t even credit you unless you’re done by the time of application, which you won’t be if you apply in your second year. Took a quick peek at your stats and saw that your GPA and ECs (other than pubs) are ok, MCAT relatively not as good. I’d say apply across Canada and us.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 3/20/2020 at 2:41 PM, bearded frog said:

Masters are not really great for improving applications, other than if you churn out publications. Most schools won’t even credit you unless you’re done by the time of application, which you won’t be if you apply in your second year. Took a quick peek at your stats and saw that your GPA and ECs (other than pubs) are ok, MCAT relatively not as good. I’d say apply across Canada and us.

Why aren't masters programs not great to improving applications? I assumed that doing a masters can help with applicants gaining maturity and (perhaps) better references?

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2 hours ago, lil_shine said:

Why aren't masters programs not great to improving applications? I assumed that doing a masters can help with applicants gaining maturity and (perhaps) better references?

Absolutely, if your goal is to do a master's because you think you will learn and grow from the experience, then that is a good reason to do one. Maturity can be a real benefit in succeeding and enjoying yourself in medical school, and to some extent that can help residency applications. 

The extent to which this will help your application to medical school in the first place depends on the school, and somewhat on yourself and the opportunities you have in that master's. Personally, I believe my master's helped my application to medical school immensely, as many of my academic and non-academic activities, awards, publication, etc. were related to it, and it bumped up my GPA a couple % points. But if you already have a strong GPA and a strong application, it's less likely to be helpful.

I agree with Bambi though, it's unlikely to make much direct difference for a residency application.

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1 hour ago, frenchpress said:

Absolutely, if your goal is to do a master's because you think you will learn and grow from the experience, then that is a good reason to do one. Maturity can be a real benefit in succeeding and enjoying yourself in medical school, and to some extent that can help residency applications. 

The extent to which this will help your application to medical school in the first place depends on the school, and somewhat on yourself and the opportunities you have in that master's. Personally, I believe my master's helped my application to medical school immensely, as many of my academic and non-academic activities, awards, publication, etc. were related to it, and it bumped up my GPA a couple % points. But if you already have a strong GPA and a strong application, it's less likely to be helpful.

I agree with Bambi though, it's unlikely to make much direct difference for a residency application.

Thanks for sharing your experience! It's so great to hear that doing a Masters program was worthwhile for you! 

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I agree that you gain a lot of experiences and maturity. You demonstrate how you’re able to lead a group and see a project to completion. You get some ABS boosters (conferences, publications, awards like OGS/NSERC/departmental ones, TAships..). But boy is it stressful right now to try to write up a thesis (very challenging btw), and meet the June 30th deadline. This is the first time I find myself slightly regretting the decision. I’m like you, had a 3.97/3.99 cGPA/wGPA from undergrad but felt my experiences were lacking as I was late to the volunteering game. If you do choose to pursue a masters, make sure your PI knows you want a smaller project so that you can finished in time for med school. 

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I totally agree that an MSc can help alot with ECs but it takes alot of time and effort for them. Who knows, would my app stand out just as much if I did an interesting employment instead (not sure how easy this is with an undergrad)? Who knows. I chose the MSc because I saw it as more certainty for building cool and meaningful experiences (TA, OGS/NSERC, conferences, pubs and I was able to relate alot of my experiences well with application essay questions). Personally looking back, I dont think I would have had as much confidence in my application if I didn't do one. But this comes with a trade off, expect to put in 2-3 years of work (depending on the research field this can vary). Now compare this to doing something else during 1-2 gap years, where I think building meaningful experiences is more a shot in the dark but I think youd still be able to muster something together. 

Lastly, I have to admit, I started regretting my decision as I was approaching the 2 year mark of my MSc. It was simply taking way too long and I felt trapped LOL. 

9 hours ago, conditional knockout said:

But boy is it stressful right now to try to write up a thesis (very challenging btw), and meet the June 30th deadline. This is the first time I find myself slightly regretting the decision

Totally agree with you here. In the same boat and its not fun. PM if you need a thesis buddy. 

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From my experience, I can tell you that most labs won't easily let you publish (especially as a first author) if you're not really part of the team, i.e. doing a masters or a phd, or having the intention of doing one there. Therefore, even if the diploma doesn't really make a big difference, it's going to help you in terms of publications, letters of reference, and maturity/experiences for your interviews. Even better if your researcher is also a doctor, because it allows you to do gain shadowing experience at the same time!

I got in this year after my masters that I ''finished'' in October (5th semester), even if I don't have my grades / diploma yet (so they did not give me any bonus for that). It definitely made a difference for me, anyway. But at the end of the day, that's your decision. Don't do it if you don't like it.

For me, my master's thesis was not challenging at all to write because I had 3 articles to include in it. So I basically just put all of them together and wrote a big introduction & a discussion, which was basically a longer version of the discussion in my articles. It only took me about a month and a half, and I was still working in the lab (starting my phd project). My revision committee did not ask for any revision, and they recommanded me for the Dean's list. But that's only my experience... it's different for everyone. I think it was easy for me because I was in love with my project, and I believe it really makes a difference! And, let's be honest, I also got very lucky to have so many publication opportunities. But realistically, you can do the same thing with a single publication as the first author. :)

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Ask yourself: Do you truly enjoy research? Or do you dread every time you have to read a boring article where the methods are so complicated and the results don't make much sense, that you start to doubt all the research out there :P

Separate bench work from true intellectual research. If you're in it just for the wet work, because you find research to be boring (many do, but fake it til they make it), then you might as well go get a job where you do the work without having to worry about the other requirements of research. If you think it's a prestigious degree but dread the work, then go do a course-based MSc. Or PA school, or accelerated nursing. You can still apply to med after and those would give you rich experiences. If you dread the idea of schooling all together, then immerse yourself in new and diverse volunteering and work experiences instead! Those will probably help you similar to how an MSc would or better if you're not applying to a research-focused med school like UofT. Hope this helps :)

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21 hours ago, conditional knockout said:

Ask yourself: Do you truly enjoy research? Or do you dread every time you have to read a boring article where the methods are so complicated and the results don't make much sense, that you start to doubt all the research out there :P

Separate bench work from true intellectual research. If you're in it just for the wet work, because you find research to be boring (many do, but fake it til they make it), then you might as well go get a job where you do the work without having to worry about the other requirements of research. If you think it's a prestigious degree but dread the work, then go do a course-based MSc. Or PA school, or accelerated nursing. You can still apply to med after and those would give you rich experiences. If you dread the idea of schooling all together, then immerse yourself in new and diverse volunteering and work experiences instead! Those will probably help you similar to how an MSc would or better if you're not applying to a research-focused med school like UofT. Hope this helps :)

I agree, but I would only add something to this. Because I used to think that I did not enjoy research because I don't really like working in a lab and I DO NOT like reading complicated papers about proteins and western blot and stuff... But then I discovered clinical research, which was to my eyes more concrete, interesting, and allowed me to meet patients! Do not let only one bad experience make you think that you're just "not into research". I see that way to often. And I've made several med students (interns or volunteers) change their minds ;-)

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On 4/11/2020 at 11:31 PM, YesIcan55 said:

Very great point. It's shocking how many undergrad science students think that the only "research" out there is working in a lab/microscopes/blots/etc...there are so many other types of research that one can do that has nothing to do with what "stereotypical" research is. Further, there are SO many master's degrees that one can pursue after finishing a science undergrad and a MSc is also not the only option. 

Do you have any recommendations for interesting masters programs that give promising jobs? That is what I am struggling the most with in terms of looking for a masters, and the interesting ones look just as competitive as medical school (like pathology @ uoft) 

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