AttemptingScholar

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I know I want to be a doctor, and while I like and am considering the idea of also getting a Ph.D. to supplement my knowledge, I'm not thrilled with taking two gap years to buff up my research resume before applying to MSTPs as per the advice I keep hearing. An older doctor got his Ph.D. in the middle of residency, I think. Is that still a viable path someone could take (this happened over 20 years ago)?

What alternate routes are there to getting both an MD and a Ph.D.?
 

Goro

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Just get your MD and then go into research. You can do research fellowships at places like NIH or NCI.
 

TelemarketingEnigma

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Just get your MD and then go into research. You can do research fellowships at places like NIH or NCI.
:headphone:
Unless you're referring to a different NCI than I'm familiar with, NCI is within the NIH ;)
 
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Goro

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:headphone:
Unless you're referring to a different NCI than I'm familiar with, NCI is within the NIH ;)
I was thinking about the actual facility in Frederick, MD or the other research centers, not the NIH Bethesda uber-campus
 

TelemarketingEnigma

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I was thinking about the actual facility in Frederick, MD or the other research centers, not the NIH Bethesda uber-campus
Fair enough! There are a few institutes that have locations separate from main campus. And with the amount of funding NCI gets it might as well be its own thing...

Also that random headphone emoji in my original post was entirely accidental, that's embarassing.
 
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eteshoe

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Goro

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Med Ed

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I know I want to be a doctor, and while I like and am considering the idea of also getting a Ph.D. to supplement my knowledge, I'm not thrilled with taking two gap years to buff up my research resume before applying to MSTPs as per the advice I keep hearing. An older doctor got his Ph.D. in the middle of residency, I think. Is that still a viable path someone could take (this happened over 20 years ago)?

What alternate routes are there to getting both an MD and a Ph.D.?
Getting a PhD after the MD is exceedingly rare. Few physicians are willing to pause their lives and be grad students for 5+ years. At that point it's generally better to find a postdoctoral research position and learn on the job.

If you really want the PhD without prepping for MSTP, start in medical school and transition into a combined degree program after 1-2 years. You will likely have to pay for that time, but there is usually attrition from combined degrees, and therefore funded slots are often available.
 

TelemarketingEnigma

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Getting a PhD after the MD is exceedingly rare. Few physicians are willing to pause their lives and be grad students for 5+ years. At that point it's generally better to find a postdoctoral research position and learn on the job.

If you really want the PhD without prepping for MSTP, start in medical school and transition into a combined degree program after 1-2 years. You will likely have to pay for that time, but there is usually attrition from combined degrees, and therefore funded slots are often available.
I know of at least one person who went back to do a PhD after her MD, but she had already been working in the field and basically already become a leader in it by the time she went back for the degree, so she worked out a deal to basically just sit the exams for the classes and then write a dissertation, while still working (the degree was supported by her institution). So, not really a good example... I've met far more MD only researchers who did what you said and learned on the job.
 
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narla_hotep

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@AttemptingScholar

Honestly, you don't need to take gap years before applying to MSTP programs. I'm currently a first year MSTP student and I went straight from undergrad to med school, and about half of the other MSTP applicants I met on the interview trail and in my class did the same thing. However, I and the others who went straight from undergrad did have a lot of previous research experience already. I'd been in the same lab at my college from freshman to senior year and done a summer research internship as well. What I didn't have was any publications, and I still got in anyway, so don't listen to people saying those are absolutely necessary to get in.

So I'd say it depends on your prior research experience. If you decided on this path relatively recently and only have a year or two in a lab, yeah probably take a gap year. A lot of people I know in my program did the NIH post-bac program for a year or two so that might be a good idea. If you have a good amount of research experience already, and more importantly can talk about your goals/experiments/results of your project in an intelligent way, then you should be good to just apply already.

In regards to the second part of your question... I've never heard of anyone who did a PhD while in residency. Sure, there are some residencies that allow you to do research as part of it, but getting an entire PhD would probably not be allowed and would be a great way to make your life miserable. But, like others have said in this thread, you can get just the MD and do some research training in like a fellowship or something later, then get a job that's part research and part clinical work. I've heard of a lot of doctors who do clinical research on the side, and even a few MD-only doctors who have managed to open translational research labs and transition into doing more research than patient care.
 

boogiecousins94

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I work at very well regarded academic teaching hospital/med school and in my department theres about 10 labs or so, only two of the PIs are pure PhD, one is DVM PhD, the rest are all MD WITHOUT PhD, only one or two are the combination of both.
I know I want to be a doctor, and while I like and am considering the idea of also getting a Ph.D. to supplement my knowledge, I'm not thrilled with taking two gap years to buff up my research resume before applying to MSTPs as per the advice I keep hearing. An older doctor got his Ph.D. in the middle of residency, I think. Is that still a viable path someone could take (this happened over 20 years ago)?

What alternate routes are there to getting both an MD and a Ph.D.?
 

Lucca

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I work at very well regarded academic teaching hospital/med school and in my department theres about 10 labs or so, only two of the PIs are pure PhD, one is DVM PhD, the rest are all MD WITHOUT PhD, only one or two are the combination of both.
Just to add some data from the NIH physician scientist report that backs up what you're saying here:


OP, whether or not you are able to get into an MD/PhD straight out of undergrad depends on your research experience, test scores, and GPA. If you have a reasonable app straight out of undergrad (at least 1.5 years worth of sustained research experience with some productivity (not necessarily papers, by any means), 513+ MCAT, 3.8+ GPA) then you can start right away. A lot of people dont have this experience, or, like me, wanted a more independent long term project to simulate grad school before committing to the dual degree (and maybe get published).

See the Physician Scientist forum for more info on all the different ways to become a physician scientist (and the risks associated with the career path).
 
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Lucca

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liquidcrawler

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You might be interested in programs that have med students do 1-2 years of dedicated basic research as part of the curriculum, such as Pitt's PSTP or Duke. These programs will allow you to gain further research experience without committing to a whole PhD.
 
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AttemptingScholar

AttemptingScholar

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Thanks, everyone. I feel like my question was misunderstood. I've been (just in general, with no real degree of seriousness, I'm still young) looking at jobs where having an MD and a PhD would benefit me in obtaining that job. I'm not asking about the opportunity to do research as an MD, I am asking if anyone knows convenient paths other than the MSTPs to let me get multiple terminal degrees. Especially if I decide I want a PhD later on. If I'm already in residency or even past it, and I wanted to pursue a PhD, would I be required to start at the beginning of an 8-year program?
 
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narla_hotep

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idk what PhD takes 8 years, I think 5 is more typical. If you did want the PhD once you're already an MD, you probably do have to start at the beginning... But I think what people were trying to say is that if you have an MD, you can do awesome research without needing to get a full PhD. But hey, if you want to get both, you do you. :)
 
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Lucca

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Thanks, everyone. I feel like my question was misunderstood. I've been (just in general, with no real degree of seriousness, I'm still young) at jobs where having an MD and a PhD would benefit me in obtaining that job. I'm not asking about the opportunity to do research as an MD, I am asking if anyone knows convenient paths other than the MSTPs to let me get multiple terminal degrees. Especially if I decide I want a PhD later on. If I'm already in residency or even past it, and I wanted to pursue a PhD, would I be required to start at the beginning of an 8-year program?
The point of an MSTP is not to earn multiple terminal degrees, although you do, it is to receive training that allows you to prepare for a career as a physician scientist. If that is your goal, then the previous posts in this thread are perfectly relevant.

In any case, it is not unheard of that some residents are able to enroll in PhD programs after or during residency that are tailored to be more like postdocs where physicians can learn the skills they need to do the science they are interested in in their respective fields.

There are some residency programs that act as PSTPs (Physician Scientist Training Programs) where protected time for research is built into the program. Those can be good entry ways into valuable post doc positions or even potentially be productive enough for you to start competing for grants / instructor positions straight out of residency.

If you want to be a physician scientist, I recommend emailing physician scientists directly (or talking to people on the physician scientist forum who are close to, in the middle of, or done with residency).
 
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Lucca

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Here's one of the questions I asked myself before I decided to apply MD/PhD: What is it that I want to do? What training do I need to put myself in the best position to do that thing? What are the pros and cons of each path?


In general, I think this is a good way to think about dual degrees and whether or not you should bother. If you want to be a healthcare industry consultant and don't want to see patients anymore, getting the MBA might be helpful. If you want more statistics education so that you can be a better clinical researcher or want to work at a broader level of improving health, maybe the MPH is worth it. If you want to become a translational scientist, the PhD could be worth it.

It all depends on what you want to do. The MD is the only degree with intrinsic value because you can do a lot of things with an MD but you can't see patients as a physician without one.
 

aldol16

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Doing a PhD separately from an MD will in most cases take more time than doing the combined degree program. Most science PhD programs nowadays are 5 or 6 years long - add that to med school and you're going to be in school for 9 or 10 years (maybe more). Doing the MD/PhD actually really streamlines everything and shortens the time significantly.
 
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eteshoe

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Although I agree w/ the gist of @aldol16 's statement, most combined MD/PhD programs really do take about 8 yrs (even 9 years is also pretty common) to complete. 7 years in this day and age is quite a rarity (at my program there hasn't been one in going 7 yrs or so). Maybe you save a year or so doing a combined MD/PhD but it's a long *** path regardless. Just wanted to highlight that fact. Even if you do a straight MD + residency + postdoc/research fellowship --> it will take a while to get the appropriate training to be able to be an independent investigator (if that's your end goal).
 
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Endoxifen

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Not that I would suggest anyone do what I hope to be doing (if the planets align in my favor), but if you get one of the big U.K. fellowships, you can retroactively apply/register for the NIH-Oxcam program and get your MD funded through that. It's not really something you can just do, it is technically possible

Edit: minor rewording
 
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