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Medical School: Dual Degree Programs

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Lauren DiProspero

Written by Lauren DiProsperoon February 14th, 2023

I began my undergraduate admissions career at Stanford University where I helped coordinate diversity events and outreach. This ignited a passion for higher education which led me to Columbia University where, after earning my masters, I began recruiting and reviewing the applications of students applying to Columbia College from all around the country including the northeast, mid-west, Texas and California. I also reviewed the applications of international students from countries across Asia as well as Canada and Mexico. During my time at Columbia, I was Director of Admissions at Columbia’s College of Physicians and Surgeons where I oversaw the entire medical school admissions process, including recruitment, application review, interview days, and admitted student events. From there I became the Director of Enrollment Management at the University of San Francisco where I oversaw a team that supported both undergraduate and graduate admissions. In that role I recruited in Southern California and reviewed applications from multiple domestic territories for the undergraduate admissions team. Most recently, I was the senior director at Stanford Medicine, where I again oversaw the entire medical school admissions process.
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by Lauren DiProspero, former admissions officer at Columbia University Medical schools provide additional educational experiences beyond the fundamentals of preparing students to become physicians. This can be through co-curricular experiences; specific pathways such as the Columbia-Bassett Track, which allows ten medical students the opportunity to train in a rural healthcare system, or UC Irvine’s mission-based programs that focus on specific community needs; or, as is the focus of this post, dual degree programs. You may be thinking … two degrees? Isn’t medical school enough? Some students enter medical school knowing they want or need to earn more than one degree to prepare for the career they envision for themselves. Other students realize they want a second degree while in medical school to enhance their learning experience. However, not all students take this path and are just interested in a medical degree! Medical schools will vary in the dual degrees offered, expectations around pre-requisites, and the timing of the application to those programs. This is meant to be a very broad overview of the more common dual degrees. If seeking a dual degree is part of your medical educational journey, I encourage you to conduct additional research into the specific programs at the medical schools on your list. MD/PhD and Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) Both MD/PhD and MSTP programs will prepare you to become a physician-scientist. That means your career will include conducting research and seeing patients. The main difference between MD/PhD and MSTP is that the MSTP programs provide full tuition coverage, living expenses, and a stipend which makes them highly competitive. The length of time to completion is about seven to eight years. Master in Public Health (MPH) Are you interested in population or community health? Maybe you want to explore implementing preventative medicine on a community-wide, nationwide, or international level. Public health covers a large range of topics and opportunities, which makes it a broadly appealing option for medical students. Master in Business Administration (MBA) Do you see yourself becoming a leader in the medical profession? This may mean a future role as a hospital executive, dean of an academic department, or working at a pharmaceutical company. If you are interested in this degree, you will need to have the experience and pre-requisites to meet the expectations of both the medical school and the business school. Master of Science (MS) These programs can range from epidemiology to biomedical engineering to biomedical informatics. This degree allows students additional research exposure to bridge clinical and research experiences. Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering This degree is typically an integrated program with a school of engineering and prepares students to become leaders in science, engineering, and medicine. Juris Doctor (JD) Similar to an MBA, this degree will prepare students for a broad range of roles in areas such as law, biotechnology, bioethics, government and policy, and for executive roles in a hospital or pharmaceutical company. If you are interested in this degree, you will need to make sure you have the experience and pre-requisites to meet the expectations of both the medical school and the law school.

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