Advice? I want to quit the medical school part of the physician scientist training program I'm in.

Aug 1, 2016
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Background:
I'm currently in a DO/PhD program. Did one year of grad school (Neuroscience PhD program, working on computational project) and now am in my first year of med school. I don't usually ask the internet for advice on my life, but I figured what the hell.

I've been debating about quitting the med school portion of this program for reasons I will explain in more detail below. I've highlighted the main points in bold so you can get the gist, but if you have the time, I'd appreciate if you could read through it all and give advice. If there are people who have advice preferably from their own experience in the field or have learned of things from other valid sources, that would be the most helpful.

My main question here is: Is the personal toll and stress that it takes for me to get through medical school and residency worth the potential benefit of a DO degree in a future career of mine? This is a cost-benefit analysis of my potential future life. Is quitting DO part of this program career suicide? Am I shooting myself in the foot of do this?

I do NOT want :
1) Pre meds telling me "How dare you think of dropping out when there are so many people like me who want to get in to medical school." Your acceptance or rejection has nothing to do with my current situation and future life.

2) People telling me "You're passing up on such a rare opportunity, how dare you." While the rarity of this opportunity makes this decision very important, rarity alone is not a reason for me to stay with the DO. As a friend of mine said "A juicy and expensive prime rib means nothing to a vegetarian."

Potential reasons why I want to drop the DO program:

1) I don't get to be fully into my research when I'm constantly trying to balance it with medical things and this will is not something that will end with medical school, it will be my entire career if I'm actually using both degrees. This is frustrating because research is what I enjoy so much more. Yes PhD is stressful but it involves more creativity and feels more rewarding to me than medical school. And there is much to do with my research that, if I had the time, I would really like to do. I work with large genomic datasets and do computational work and very little of what I will learn in med school will apply to the research I am doing. If I did not do the DO, I could be spending my time taking classes that would directly benefit my research and the progress I'm making in it. In the scenario that clinical experience does not help my research, why am I wasting all this time pursuing it? Are there people who do computational neuroscience or genomics of different sorts that can tell me how much a medial degree does or does not benefit their research and research opportunities?

2) For mental health reasons, medical school has been intensely miserable for me this far. I've struggled with generalized anxiety disorder and depression for the last 7 or 8 years. I was in a good balance of things before med school but now my anxiety and depression are unbearable and I've never felt so stressed and unhappy in my life. The night before each exam I've had so far, I've felt suicidal, but thankfully I have a lot of caring friends and family so I don't think I would ever do that. But it's a miserable time to say in the list. I am continuing to see my therapist and psychiatrist and taking meds, but this isn't a problem that I can solve once and for all tomorrow or perhaps ever. My personality is predisposed to stress out.

From what I understand, this stress does not end with medical school graduation, it continues through residency and this type of career and attempting to balance research with it. But I would love it if someone could tell me otherwise on this point. But given the physician burnout and depression rate, I don't think medicine is a stress free environment. Are there people who have GAD or other anxiety disorders that can tell me whether they've been happy with a career in medicine or more specifically as a physician scientist?

3) Clinical work has never been the main thing I've been excited about. It seems that clinical work is most likely repetitive and does not involve the creativity that research does, but if people have input on that, that would be helpful. But again, please tell me otherwise on the point if you can. Of course this I do not know for certain, since I have not interviewed people in every type of medical specialty and have not lived the life of a physician.

4) I want a life someday. Before I never thought of anything besides my career, but now I'm realizing it's far from the most important thing to me. I imagine these types of sentiments may even increase as I age and if I want a family at some point. Balancing research and clinic is tough enough as it is, actually having a family life too would be insanely difficult and stressful particularly for someone who's already predisposed to stress. Not that it isn't possible. People do do it. But I will also be probably 31 when I graduate and will still have a residency and potentially fellowship to complete. I am a woman. I hate to say this is a factor, because I always swore I wouldn't be one of these types, but my biological clock is ticking. If women physician-scientists in particular have advice, that'd be great.

5) I've always liked and thought of doing the communication of science/education so there are things like teaching, or things outside of academia that I could pursue, like industry and etc. Things besides being a PI at a major research institution and constantly stressing about grant funding. Things that would also not require a DO. But, I do not fully know all the options out there, though I have been looking into them. Does anyone know how difficult it is to do research or get a different type of job with a PhD in neuroscience alone as compared to a DO/PhD? How much advantage does that really give a person?


Pitfalls of not getting a DO:

1) I will not have clinical skills. I cannot fall back on clinical work if research isn't panning out. There is less flexibility and career options with PhD only track. Doors will be closed that cannot be reopened. How much will quitting the program look bad on my career?

2) The DO probably helps for grant funding if I do major research. Gives me an extra gold star compared to other PhD only or MD or DO only grant applicants. This is what I've always been told anyway.

3) The DO gives me clinical background to the research problems I'm pursuing. It gives the research problems I'm investigating a face.

4) I will not have the benefit of the perks of the DOPhD program. The advisors and etc.
 

sluox

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Potential reasons why I want to drop the DO program:

Are there people who do computational neuroscience or genomics of different sorts that can tell me how much a medial degree does or does not benefit their research and research opportunities?
I do this type of research. A medical degree does not *directly* offer your any significant boost to your research career.

Are there people who have GAD or other anxiety disorders that can tell me whether they've been happy with a career in medicine or more specifically as a physician scientist?
This is not an issue that I have personally, but I know people who overcome their mental health difficulties and do well in medicine. Nevertheless, this is sort of neither here nor there. Just because someone else can do it doesn't mean it's worth it for you to do it.

3) It seems that clinical work is most likely repetitive and does not involve the creativity that research does, but if people have input on that, that would be helpful.
Mostly correct.

4) Balancing research and clinic is tough enough as it is, actually having a family life too would be insanely difficult and stressful particularly for someone who's already predisposed to stress. If women physician-scientists in particular have advice, that'd be great.
I had a feeling that you are a woman. I'll tell you below why a medical degree is good for lifestyle--it's actually not at all what you think.


Does anyone know how difficult it is to do research or get a different type of job with a PhD in neuroscience alone as compared to a DO/PhD? How much advantage does that really give a person?
I'll address that below

How much will quitting the program look bad on my career?
This should not be a concern. Any effect would be transient.

The DO probably helps for grant funding if I do major research.
This is also not a concern, except what I will mention below.

3) The DO gives me clinical background to the research problems I'm pursuing. It gives the research problems I'm investigating a face.

4) I will not have the benefit of the perks of the DOPhD program. The advisors and etc.
This is neither here nor there.

The main advantage of medical training is the job at the end. The average physician pay ~ 200k is more than three times an average professor pay ~ 70k. If you don't care about money (i.e. living in a low cost of living area, have a money making spouse, etc.) you should drop the DO. The "lifestyle" advantages that the medical degree confers are very different: the lifestyle of being able to hire domestic staff, get a bigger house, save faster for retirement, and do other luxurious things. If you choose the right specialties or the right work environment you can work relatively very few hours to get these things.

While research careers have the advantage of flexible hours, the current grant environment dictates that the flexibility is illusory--the number of hours required to sustain a career is just as high, if not higher, than than that of a typical physician. They are just very scattered and this type of career requires better time management skills. That said, computational PhDs are vastly more marketable than normal biological PhDs, and you should have no trouble finding a job outside of academia doing "research" of some sort that uses your previous training (i.e. Data Science, etc.). The salary will not be as high as a physician and the job is not as stable, but it's also not as unstable or low as one of a typical biology scientist in academia.

The main advantage of full fledge (residency trained) physician scientist in academia is a hedge in the competitive grants environment for salary support. Institutions would be willing to hire you temporarily until you've secured grants by having you do clinical work. There are some grants that are more accessible by physicians, but this is a separate issue.

I suspect you are not a good fit for the track for an academic PI either. My suggestion is drop out medical school, if you enjoy the PhD, do the PhD, then secure a staff scientist/staff statistician job (especially in a large organization or govt). That type of job is very stable and gives good life/work balance. If you don't particularly enjoy the PhD, you should consider very seriously in dropping out of PhD and pursue a professional masters program, which would track you into the staff scientist career more expediently.
 
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OP
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Aug 1, 2016
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I do this type of research. A medical degree does not *directly* offer your any significant boost to your research career.
This is good to know.



The main advantage of medical training is the job at the end. The average physician pay ~ 200k is more than three times an average professor pay ~ 70k. If you don't care about money (i.e. living in a low cost of living area, have a money making spouse, etc.) you should drop the DO.
Yes, this is something I've realized but money doesn't matter to me much at all.

While research careers have the advantage of flexible hours, the current grant environment dictates that the flexibility is illusory--the number of hours required to sustain a career is just as high, if not higher, than than that of a typical physician.
Yes, this is consistent from what I've heard elsewhere. For myself, however, the PhD is far more enjoyable. You can work on a grant for months, but exams are only an hour and a half or so. Also, the PhD work thus far has been quite enjoyable to me. So it's a stress that at least pays off somewhat since I enjoy the work.

They are just very scattered and this type of career requires better time management skills. That said, computational PhDs are vastly more marketable than normal biological PhDs
Also, good to know.


I suspect you are not a good fit for the track for an academic PI either. My suggestion is drop out medical school, if you enjoy the PhD, do the PhD, then secure a staff scientist/staff statistician job (especially in a large organization or govt).
Yes, the grant acquisition process does sound stressful. PI's essentially seem to be small business owners, except that the funding becomes more and more scarce because there have been more and more people trying to also be PI's.

I used to work as a research tech for a few years at place where I was given the freedom to pursue all the projects I wanted (there were no grad students or postdocs). It was one of the happier couple years of my life. Pretty low stress but still got to be intimately involved in the scientific process. Non-academic science related positions would probably be enjoyable to me.



Thanks very much for your advice "sluox" It was very helpful and also consistent to some things I've heard elsewhere. It's greatly appreciated.
 
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Neuronix

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1) I don't get to be fully into my research when I'm constantly trying to balance it with medical things and this will is not something that will end with medical school, it will be my entire career if I'm actually using both degrees. This is frustrating because research is what I enjoy so much more.
You've only been through the first year of medical school. It gets better for most of us. You also have the option to pick non-clinical specialties such as pathology.

Are there people who do computational neuroscience or genomics of different sorts that can tell me how much a medial degree does or does not benefit their research and research opportunities?

You essentially have to believe in the value of the physician-scientist pathway for yourself. There is no objective data to say that the medical degree will benefit your research. The MD essentially guarantees you a high paying job. The PhD does not. That's about all I'd objectively say about it.

2) For mental health reasons, medical school has been intensely miserable for me this far. I've struggled with generalized anxiety disorder and depression for the last 7 or 8 years. I was in a good balance of things before med school but now my anxiety and depression are unbearable and I've never felt so stressed and unhappy in my life. The night before each exam I've had so far, I've felt suicidal, but thankfully I have a lot of caring friends and family so I don't think I would ever do that. But it's a miserable time to say in the list. I am continuing to see my therapist and psychiatrist and taking meds, but this isn't a problem that I can solve once and for all tomorrow or perhaps ever. My personality is predisposed to stress out.
This is something that will hinder you no matter what you do in life. Grant deadlines are very stressful as well. Tenure committees are very stressful. Many presentations are very stressful. Exams are just exams. If you fail one, it isn't the end of the world--there is always some opportunity for remediation. However, this is up to you as far as what you can tolerate.

From what I understand, this stress does not end with medical school graduation, it continues through residency and this type of career and attempting to balance research with it. But I would love it if someone could tell me otherwise on this point. But given the physician burnout and depression rate, I don't think medicine is a stress free environment. Are there people who have GAD or other anxiety disorders that can tell me whether they've been happy with a career in medicine or more specifically as a physician scientist?
Plenty of people have anxiety disorders in medicine and research. If you don't feel that you can handle medicine, that's on you to either fix or leave.

3) Clinical work has never been the main thing I've been excited about. It seems that clinical work is most likely repetitive and does not involve the creativity that research does, but if people have input on that, that would be helpful. But again, please tell me otherwise on the point if you can. Of course this I do not know for certain, since I have not interviewed people in every type of medical specialty and have not lived the life of a physician.
I love the medical part of clinical practice and think my specialty offers a lot of creativity and variability in daily practice.

5) I've always liked and thought of doing the communication of science/education so there are things like teaching, or things outside of academia that I could pursue, like industry and etc. Things besides being a PI at a major research institution and constantly stressing about grant funding. Things that would also not require a DO. But, I do not fully know all the options out there, though I have been looking into them. Does anyone know how difficult it is to do research or get a different type of job with a PhD in neuroscience alone as compared to a DO/PhD? How much advantage does that really give a person?
A PhD is a flexible degree. You can google search all the opportunities available with one. However, the job market is very competitive. A DO/PhD with board certification almost guarantees you a stable career clinically. But with a DO/PhD, you will have to continue to fight to do research, just like a PhD only. The pros and cons here are up to you to weigh. I couldn't imagine a career without clinical practice for me, but that's just speaking for myself.

How much will quitting the program look bad on my career?
It won't.

2) The DO probably helps for grant funding if I do major research. Gives me an extra gold star compared to other PhD only or MD or DO only grant applicants. This is what I've always been told anyway.
It doesn't. A lot of people like to say that, but it isn't backed up by data. I most recently discussed this here: http://forums.studentdoctor.net/threads/top-choice-phd-vs-very-good-mstp.1191667/#post-17595493

Yes, this is something I've realized but money doesn't matter to me much at all.
If you want to have a family, money and job security will become important to you. Children are very expensive. Maybe you have family or spousal money, however.

Non-academic science related positions would probably be enjoyable to me.
You could work in industry or manage a core lab with a PhD if that's your goal.
 
OP
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Aug 1, 2016
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You've only been through the first year of medical school. It gets better for most of us. You also have the option to pick non-clinical specialties such as pathology.
I've heard this, which is why I'm not dropping out immediately and instead waiting at least until next semester. I've thought about pathology or psychiatry or neurology as the main specialities that I would potentially be interested in. Th question is though is the time and money worth it if I'm not going to practice clinically.

You essentially have to believe in the value of the physician-scientist pathway for yourself. There is no objective data to say that the medical degree will benefit your research. The MD essentially guarantees you a high paying job. The PhD does not. That's about all I'd objectively say about it.
It seems overall from what you are saying that job security and salary are the biggest perks to DO or MD vs PhD

This is something that will hinder you no matter what you do in life. Grant deadlines are very stressful as well. Tenure committees are very stressful. Many presentations are very stressful. Exams are just exams. If you fail one, it isn't the end of the world--there is always some opportunity for remediation. However, this is up to you as far as what you can tolerate.
Yes, this is something I realize, which is why this ultimately something I have to work out no matter what I do. But the medical school stress seems to add to it. Surely my PhD work is stressful too, but it also feels more rewarding to me thus far. But I haven't actually been in the clinic yet as well.


I love the medical part of clinical practice and think my specialty offers a lot of creativity and variability in daily practice.
What speciality do you do?

It doesn't. A lot of people like to say that, but it isn't backed up by data. I most recently discussed this here: http://forums.studentdoctor.net/threads/top-choice-phd-vs-very-good-mstp.1191667/#post-17595493
http://forums.studentdoctor.net/threads/top-choice-phd-vs-very-good-mstp.1191667/#post-17595493
Good to know, thanks for the data source.

You could work in industry or manage a core lab with a PhD if that's your goal.
This does sound appealing to me as well as teaching.
 

tr

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Potential reasons why I want to drop the DO program:

1) I don't get to be fully into my research when I'm constantly trying to balance it with medical things and this will is not something that will end with medical school, it will be my entire career if I'm actually using both degrees. This is frustrating because research is what I enjoy so much more. Yes PhD is stressful but it involves more creativity and feels more rewarding to me than medical school. And there is much to do with my research that, if I had the time, I would really like to do. I work with large genomic datasets and do computational work and very little of what I will learn in med school will apply to the research I am doing. If I did not do the DO, I could be spending my time taking classes that would directly benefit my research and the progress I'm making in it. In the scenario that clinical experience does not help my research, why am I wasting all this time pursuing it? Are there people who do computational neuroscience or genomics of different sorts that can tell me how much a medical degree does or does not benefit their research and research opportunities?
I don't do computational work myself but I lean very heavily on collaborators who do. It would help me a lot if I had more training in this area but I don't think it would help them very much to have clinical training unless they were trying to do something closer to my job.

2) For mental health reasons, medical school has been intensely miserable for me this far. I've struggled with generalized anxiety disorder and depression for the last 7 or 8 years. I was in a good balance of things before med school but now my anxiety and depression are unbearable and I've never felt so stressed and unhappy in my life. The night before each exam I've had so far, I've felt suicidal, but thankfully I have a lot of caring friends and family so I don't think I would ever do that. But it's a miserable time to say in the list. I am continuing to see my therapist and psychiatrist and taking meds, but this isn't a problem that I can solve once and for all tomorrow or perhaps ever. My personality is predisposed to stress out.

From what I understand, this stress does not end with medical school graduation, it continues through residency and this type of career and attempting to balance research with it. But I would love it if someone could tell me otherwise on this point. But given the physician burnout and depression rate, I don't think medicine is a stress free environment. Are there people who have GAD or other anxiety disorders that can tell me whether they've been happy with a career in medicine or more specifically as a physician scientist?

If you don't handle stress well I actually would recommend against an academic career altogether. Academic research is an ongoing stress factory. The work requires long hours of involvement, frequent travel, and constant intense competition against a lot of other very bright people for funding, with your own job security and potentially that of your postdocs and technicians as well on the line.

Given this issue it would be reasonable either to ditch the DO and focus on getting a private or government sector job in data science after you finish school as sluox suggested, or (if you interested in clinical work), complete the DO and track into a mostly clinical position (could be either inside or outside of academia but would mainly involve seeing patients, where the job security is great and the reimbursement excellent). Training is the most stressful part of medicine (not to discount the importance since training lasts 7-14 years of course); once you finish residency you have a lot more control over your work and your life.

The bottom line is that you get better working conditions and reimbursement when you can supply something for which the demand is high and the supply relatively low (this is true for both clinicians and data scientists right now). You get horrible working conditions and pathetic reimbursement when you are working in a field where the supply of other people outstrips the demand for the work. This is true for academic research, which is a tournament scheme with a lot of people at the bottom competing for a tiny number of positions at the top.

3) Clinical work has never been the main thing I've been excited about. It seems that clinical work is most likely repetitive and does not involve the creativity that research does, but if people have input on that, that would be helpful.


I can't speak for other specialties but I find my clinical work endlessly fascinating and not at all repetitive. But I do a good deal of psychotherapy, which is very complex and challenging. I'm not sure how I would feel about this if I were in another specialty, or if I were working in a high-volume medication-management setting within psychiatry. However, for some perspective, when I started my joint program I was totally committed to the research side and basically only did the MD because a number of senior academic biologists told me I should (and because it was, uh, free). But unexpectedly, I found I very much enjoyed the clinical portion of medical school, including rotations in many areas that I wouldn't previously have thought would interest me. Medicine is pretty complex up close. It's easy to dismiss it as pill-pushing from the outside.

4) I want a life someday. Before I never thought of anything besides my career, but now I'm realizing it's far from the most important thing to me. I imagine these types of sentiments may even increase as I age and if I want a family at some point. Balancing research and clinic is tough enough as it is, actually having a family life too would be insanely difficult and stressful particularly for someone who's already predisposed to stress. Not that it isn't possible. People do do it. But I will also be probably 31 when I graduate and will still have a residency and potentially fellowship to complete. I am a woman. I hate to say this is a factor, because I always swore I wouldn't be one of these types, but my biological clock is ticking. If women physician-scientists in particular have advice, that'd be great.
Yeah it is very difficult to produce at the level required for an academic research career and also have children. A few people do it but a lot more bail out once they realize the level of work/family conflict they are facing. The scientific pipeline hemorrhages women at the postdoctoral level. I can't find the data right now but I saw a study where postdocs were asked about their interest in an academic research career before having their first child, and then again after. Men and women were about even with 70% interest before first baby, but after having the baby men's level of interest did not change substantially whereas women's plummeted to under 30%.

Personally I feel this has been a major advantage of the dual degree for me. As sluox said, the clinical skills don't count on the scale of what's needed to survive in academia (that would be papers and grants), but they do offer an option to take a parallel path doing clinical work in an academic setting, with better job security and better reimbursement, and the option to continue to pursue as much research as you are able to fund. You can't run a lab this way (I decided during my PhD that I never wanted to run a basic science lab) but you can continue to do interesting work. I have a collaboration with a faculty member on the basic science side that is advantageous to us both. As a clinician it's been a nonissue to cut down to part time for periods of time after having children, which I absolutely could not have done while working as a researcher. As my kids get older and I have more time for career issues, I can ramp up my effort on grant submissions to try to increase the proportion of my time for research.

5) I've always liked and thought of doing the communication of science/education so there are things like teaching, or things outside of academia that I could pursue, like industry and etc. Things besides being a PI at a major research institution and constantly stressing about grant funding. Things that would also not require a DO. But, I do not fully know all the options out there, though I have been looking into them. Does anyone know how difficult it is to do research or get a different type of job with a PhD in neuroscience alone as compared to a DO/PhD? How much advantage does that really give a person?


It depends on the specific skills you picked up in your PhD. As sluox said, biology PhDs in general are not that marketable, although there are certainly industry jobs available in pharma and biotech. However if you have computer science or data science skills, those are very marketable in a variety of fields. The DO probably wouldn't be a major factor there, although it might help a little bit for pharma or biotech jobs depending on exactly what the job description was.

Pitfalls of not getting a DO:

1) I will not have clinical skills. I cannot fall back on clinical work if research isn't panning out. There is less flexibility and career options with PhD only track. Doors will be closed that cannot be reopened. How much will quitting the program look bad on my career?


I don't think it will look bad, it just closes the door for a partially or entirely clinical career. You may not care about that if you are certain you wouldn't want to do clinical work anyway.

2) The DO probably helps for grant funding if I do major research. Gives me an extra gold star compared to other PhD only or MD or DO only grant applicants. This is what I've always been told anyway.
Uh, nope. Doesn't help directly. It's possible that going through medical training could influence your research directions toward more clinical areas in which it may be somewhat easier to make your case for the importance of funding, versus basic science areas with less obvious importance to the NIH. That's not a very direct effect however. And it may be counterbalanced by the fact that the time you spend in medical training is a lot of time that you are not spending racking up papers and grants, which is actually a rather definite disadvantage when applying for funding. Straight PhDs who are the same age as postresidency MD/PhDs can easily have 4-5 *times* as many papers on their CVs.

3) The DO gives me clinical background to the research problems I'm pursuing. It gives the research problems I'm investigating a face.
I mean, yeah, as discussed above, being able to position your work in a clinical context can be an advantage. If you aren't interested in clinical work (or at least in clinically relevant questions) I'm not sure how much this would mean to you.

4) I will not have the benefit of the perks of the DOPhD program. The advisors and etc.
I don't know anything about this, it sounds specific to your program. PhD students have advisors too though.
 

WalSlave

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I've gone through a similar situation on the Masters level. My PI actually did, too. He began as a med student at Cornell once upon a time, and made it through a year before quitting in favor of a PhD in biochemistry. He is now happy as a lark working at a state university in the Midwest as a tenured professor. He isn't a renowned researcher or anything, but he makes middle class money and is clearly very happy with his life; wife, car, kids, house, dog, yadda yadda. Obviously these tenure jobs are not as easy to come by anymore, but I'm sure you have already been exposed to that notion being a PhD student.

I had the same issue with different circumstances. I joined this PI's lab as a MSc student thinking I wanted to be a researcher. By the time a year had passed, I realized just how miserable and anxious I was. Research was absolutely not for me and I had all the same feelings towards research that you have towards your med school education now. Point being, I know how you feel and if you are truly not able to extract even the smallest joy from being in med school, listen to your gut and do what you know is right. I forced myself through the masters program b/c I thought it was too late to turn back and was afraid of what a "failure" would do to me. I finished, but if given the choice, I'd never do it over again. I would have gone straight to medicine. I have a MS Chemistry under my belt, but my lack of passion for my research definitely shows through in my lack of publications/accomplishments in that area.

You can always make more money, but you can't get back time.
 

Neuronix

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My PI actually did, too. He began as a med student at Cornell once upon a time, and made it through a year before quitting in favor of a PhD in biochemistry. He is now happy as a lark working at a state university in the Midwest as a tenured professor.
Dropping the MD/DO was much more common back in the days when job prospects for researchers was better. I've met a number of similar individuals over the years. With the glut of PhDs, dropping out of med school or not doing a residency has become much less common.

If the job market for research was better, my advice would be different. Heck if the job market for research was better, I might be doing basic science right now myself :laugh:. Regardless, as tr, sluox, and myself will attest, clinical medicine isn't a bad gig. There are some negatives to it (paperwork, insurance companies, administrative hassles), but the actual practice of clinical medicine is rewarding and not as formulaic as the detractors might claim.
 

SurfingDoctor

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I would second Neuronix point. The MD or DO offers job security that the PhD alone won't. If the NIH paylines weren't in the low 10s (sometimes single digits) I would say do what you want, but that is not today's reality. Now there are other jobs for PhD in industry (pharmaceutical, biotech, chemical) which I don't know much about and can't comment on in the job security, though generally speaking private sector job security depends on the success of the business and the demand of the product, which can vary highly. But for academics, the MD or DO gives job security that the PhD won't.
 
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DO/PhD Student
Obviously these tenure jobs are not as easy to come by anymore, but I'm sure you have already been exposed to that notion being a PhD student.
Yeah I've observed and been told 1000X about the struggles of being a in research. My PI tells me the chances of doing well in it are like being a movie star....Hmm.... maybe a little dramatic, but point taken. I know research funding is hard to come by. But I'd much rather do something I enjoy and struggle than do something I dislike and struggle.

I have two different shadowing experiences lined up that should better indicate to me whether clinical work will be interesting to me.

But secondly, I know I would very much enjoying teaching or working as a staff scientist. So those are two possibilities that I can do with a PhD that aren't the Principle investigator/Tenure track that everyone seems to assume is the only thing I'd want to do with a PhD.

Research was absolutely not for me and I had all the same feelings towards research that you have towards your med school education now. Point being, I know how you feel and if you are truly not able to extract even the smallest joy from being in med school, listen to your gut and do what you know is right. I forced myself through the masters program b/c I thought it was too late to turn back and was afraid of what a "failure" would do to me. I finished, but if given the choice, I'd never do it over again. I would have gone straight to medicine. I have a MS Chemistry under my belt, but my lack of passion for my research definitely shows through in my lack of publications/accomplishments in that area.
You can always make more money, but you can't get back time.
Thanks for the story and telling me your perspective.
 
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Aug 1, 2016
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Heck if the job market for research was better, I might be doing basic science right now myself :laugh:. Regardless, as tr, sluox, and myself will attest, clinical medicine isn't a bad gig. There are some negatives to it (paperwork, insurance companies, administrative hassles), but the actual practice of clinical medicine is rewarding and not as formulaic as the detractors might claim.
Good to near about physicians who truly do enjoy their work. I have two shadowing experiences lined up to see if I can better expose myself to medicine just a bit more before I end up pulling the plug on medical school.
 

QofQuimica

Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting....
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No job will be amazingly interesting every second of every day. After you've done anything for the five hundredth time, it's going to be less interesting than it was the first time. That goes for research just like anything else, and it goes for clinical practice too. One good thing about medicine though is that further training or specialization is possible, particularly in an academic environment. I'll be going back for fellowship after being out in general practice for three years in a subspecialty that I love. I suppose even that will get "boring" after a while, but then changing practice venues (ex. academic) is still a possibility. You don't have to stagnate in medicine.

I think doing some more shadowing like you're planning before making your decision is wise. If you've only done your MS1 year, then you really don't have a good sense yet for whether you'll enjoy clinical practice. In the same way that taking an UG neuroscience class is nothing like working in a neuroscience lab, taking your MS1 courses is nothing like actually practicing medicine. Do you have any sense of what specialty might interest you? If so, see if you can shadow in that specialty. Maybe neurology would be an obvious place to start?
 
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