Wednesday, June 28, 2006


Whenever I talk to people about medical school, the first thing they ask is where I am in the process. When I tell them I’ve only finished my first year, those in the know acknowledge that I’m still at the beginning, while those who aren’t ask how much longer I’ll be in school. The conversation generally goes down hill from there. What started as innocent small talk devolves into a lengthy explanation of what I’m planning to do with my entire life, starting with a lot more school. I explain that I’ve always been interested in public health, but that I want the serious research training offered by a PhD. That’s usually followed by an explanation of the typical schedule: two years of medical school, three or four years of PhD work, and then two years of medical school. If their eyes aren’t glazed over by that point, I usually ask if they themselves have several advanced degrees. Otherwise I politely change the subject.

In spite of what seems to many an insurmountable number of years of schooling, I’m really excited to be in this program. If I’d realized at my high school graduation that I was only half-way through my schooling, I’m not sure what my reaction would have been, but at this point, I’m willing to do almost anything to get to do the things I love. From my current vantage point, it looks like I may have to. Chances are I’ll need to teach or be a research assistant during my PhD work to fund my education. Most people in public health do. This may or may not add another year onto my time here. Basically, I’m not thinking about how long I have to go, but how much I have to learn and what I’m preparing for. It will be difficult, but I’m looking forward to the challenge.

It hasn’t exactly been easy getting this far. When I applied to MSTP and MD/PhD programs during my last year of college, I knew that my application wasn’t strong, and that my public health research experience was lacking. I didn’t anticipate being accepted and, not surprisingly, I wasn’t. I started my first year with every intention of applying again, this time with a summer dedicated to a combination of field placement-type work and research. I applied again, and it actually worked out. I’ll be an official “mud-phud” as the MD/PhDs are fondly referred to, and I couldn’t be happier.

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