Tuesday, May 13, 2014

MD/PhD Essay

I was recently accepted into an MD/PhD program, which has has been my life goal ever since I started undergraduate research two and a half years ago. I have never been so excited about my future! My plan is to get my PhD in neuroscience.

When students apply for MD/PhD programs, they write three essays: a Personal Statement, an MD/PhD Essay, and a Research Experience Essay.

This is my MD/PhD essay, the one specifically geared towards my reasoning for wanting an MD/PhD as opposed to an MD or a PhD alone. Although it breaks several 'rules' for writing essays for medical school applications (discussing potentially controversial subject material and including a quotation), I just couldn't bring myself to make up a story about my reasoning behind wanting an MD/PhD that would 'sound better'. I simply wrote down my story, and here it is.

My MD/PhD Essay
During high school, I became an enthusiastic member at a local church. At the same time, I came to realize that my father, a former leader in the church, had lost his faith. Concerned for him, I sought to change his mind using evidence and reason. Because he is a PhD in chemical engineering, I needed to increase my intellect dramatically if I wanted to have meaningful discourse with him. To this end, I studied scientific texts and devoted myself to learning. My goal was to be competent enough to talk with my dad before leaving for college. Unforeseen to me at the time, this quest would instill in me a love for science, and motivate me to develop unbiased research skills.

At first, this search reinforced my existing beliefs. However, I reached a turning point while arguing over a theological issue with my roommate. During this discussion, it dawned on me that I might be wrong; perhaps I should seriously consider his point-of-view. After all, what were the odds that I had no errors in my thought?

This conversation changed my perspective. I was humbled, I became open-minded, and I became excited to reexamine my beliefs. I adopted a new Golden Rule: “Treat another’s arguments the way you want your arguments to be treated.” With this new mindset, I began an inquiry into many world views, learning what each thought and why. I used the same criteria for every view, including my own, to attempt to be as fair and objective as possible. After three years of study involving biology, mathematics, physics, chemistry, philosophy, and history I concluded that my original beliefs might not be true. I am now in a continual process of learning, finding evidence, asking for advice, and examining new ideas to progress in my honest search for truth.

During my quest, I started conducting research with an organization devoted to fostering student-mentor relationships and collaborative learning. I found that my intellectual process had equipped me to analyze complex ideas, generate hypotheses, and develop experiments. I was well-prepared for a research environment in which reason, evidence, and precise methodologies are paramount.

What began as an attempt to have a meaningful conversation with my dad turned into a passion for science. Once I reached a certain point of understanding concerning one topic, I recognized its beauty and inherent worth and investigated further. When I was exposed to translation and transcription in eukaryotic cells, for example, I became captivated by protein biosynthesis and started learning more purely for the sake of learning more. Because I have been fascinated by many fields of science, especially ones related to mechanisms of disease, I now know that I want to pursue a career in medical research to cultivate my curiosity and improve the world around me.

“Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it." -Andre Gid


  1. You sure a smarty pants! How exactly do you fit that big brain inside your head? :O

  2. In all seriousness, congratulations, Josh. Most folks do not understand how difficult it is to get into medical school, much less a M.D./PhD program. Folks reading this should do a search on M.D./PhD acceptance; you will find it isn't very high, to put it mildly... :D

  3. Congrats on your acceptance, Josh! :D

  4. What's the maximum character count on md/phd essays? Also great essay! :)

  5. Seriously? How does this essay tell anyone about your experience in research that made you a good candidate for MD/PhD?

    1. There is a separate "Research essay" for just that.

    2. http://honestsearchfortruth.blogspot.com/2018/09/mdphd-research-essay-example.html