Crazy Carl

7+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Jun 4, 2001
Chapel Hill, NC
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I'm looking for career advice. I don't have every last aspect of my medical career planned out, but I do know that I want to enter academic medicine and be a professor at a med school somewhere. I was wondering if anyone had ANY feedback about how best to approach this goal. I've always thought I would go the traditional route and get an MD, but I'm now starting to consider getting an MD/PhD. I love research now, and expect it would (necessarily) be a big part of my career. Is it better to go MSTP and get an MD/PhD, or will "just" an MD be enough? I think I would be competitive as an MSTP applicant. I'm a rising senior, but am going to wait until next year to apply and take a year off.

Also, any other thoughts on pursuing this career would be more than welcome. Thanks for your help!



7+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Apr 22, 2002
Palo Alto
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It seems to me that choosing to pursue a joint degree is much more involved than simply asking oneself "do I love research or not?" For me, I love research, yes, but the reason I chose to do MSTP is that I felt that I would greatly benefit from the training in my chosen field and that that training could not otherwise have been obtained by just doing a research fellowship. For me, it seemed that since there is so much "overhead" in biophysics, that it makes sense to get the full preparation. Now, if your interests lie in a different field, it may or may not make sense for you to do MSTP. For instance, if your research leanings are clinical in nature, then you would be best served just getting an MD. Same goes if you intend to spend most of your time in clinic and only a small portion in the lab. MSTP is a big investment of the most creative years of your life. As yourself what you really see yourself doing as a Med School professor and if that would need the additional training a PhD would provide. I must say that if I had chosen to go into something along the lines of cell bio or the like, I probably would have just stuck with the MD... but that is just me.


10+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
May 15, 2002
  1. Fellow [Any Field]
Crazy Carl:

The decisions you face with MD vs MSTP are similar, except that with MSTP you just have to be a little bit more sure about academic medicine. (You don't need to be 110% sure, because some MSTP programs allow you to drop out at any time.) It is certainly possible to hold your cards, matriculate "plain vanilla"-MD, and then decide later on a career in academic medicine. When this happens, you could easily just do a one- or two-year research fellowship post-residency. Many academic physicians go this route.

Food for thought:

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