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Am I making a huge mistake???

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by crayzdaze, Apr 16, 2007.

  1. crayzdaze

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    Alright guys/girls I am looking for some unbiased advice about what you think I should do. I've been playing tug-o-war in my head for the past few months about what I want to do with my life. I am currently accepted to a md program and a phd program. I've been doing research for the past few years and really like it (I'm 25 by the way.) The md school is a pretty good school but is weak in research and heavily geared toward clinical medicine. I really like the phd program (its an interdisciplicary umbrella program into the biomedical sciences) and love the school. I've pretty much decided that I would rather do the phd route, but sometimes I start thinking that I may be making a huge mistake.

    The problem with going to the med school is that I would be in >$225,000 debt and if I decided I wanted to do medical research at the end of it then it would be nearly impossible to pay off the debt. Also, as I mentioned before the research opportunities are severely limited.

    I've gone back and forth so many times in my head that I'm not really sure what I want...I figured that by posting this and getting some feedback it could help me clarify what I want out of life. Thanks for any input....
     
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  3. crayzdaze

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    by the way, md/phd isn't really an option right now as the med school I'm accepted to doesn't have a formal program. To get into another md/phd program I'd have to retake mcat and reapply to medschool...dont think I'm up for that.
     
  4. pennybridge

    pennybridge Membership Revoked
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    do what will be more beneficial for your career.

    If you want to do be a researcher, going to a non-research med school and getting your MD won't really help you do that.

    I say do the PhD program and go do research, or figure out a way to reapply and get into a more research oriented med program if being able to practice is important to you.
     
  5. boulux

    boulux Member
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    If research is want you want to do, the choice is obvious. No?
     
  6. OncoCaP

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    Seems like you want to do the Ph.D. I'm not sure I understand the "sometimes I start thinking that I may be making a huge mistake" part related to doing the Ph.D.

    Please clarify, if possible.
     
  7. crayzdaze

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    one would think so...i am just finding it really difficult to give up on something that I have worked so long and hard to attain.
     
  8. YonYonson

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    I completely understand that this is a difficult situation. I can not really offer any advise as to which route you should choose. But here's my two cents: It sounds that you really would prefer to enroll in the phd program, but are afraid that you'll be closing some doors by making that decision. I can assure you that no doors are closing. If you enroll in the phd program and don't like it, you can always re-apply to med school. also, i've known a number of people who have earned a phd and then decided to enter med school. i know that you'd rather make the perfect decision from the start and not spend years doing something that isn't for you. but there is no other way around these tough decisions. everyone i've known who has gone to either med school or grad school has decided to do so without really knowing what they are getting themselves into. if later on you realize you should have picked another route, forgive yourself and switch tracks. in the meantime, don't worry too much, you've put yourself in a wonderful position. either way, you won't be on the street. good luck.
     
  9. OncoCaP

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    Read some of the threads around here (in the allopathic forum) ... the ones about regretting going to medical school ... the ones where people are frustrated and stressed out ... the ones about envying the grad students. That might show that this is an important decision that should not be taken lightly.

    You haven't started yet. You have no debt. Just because you worked hard to get admitted to medical school doesn't mean medical school is "worth it" for you. You can work hard for something completely pointless and have something extremely valueable fall into your lap (sometimes called the "inverse effort rule.").

    As I mentioned above, a clarification on how you are making your decision / where the doubts are coming from would be helpful for people to contribute to your decision-making.
     
  10. crayzdaze

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    sorry. substitute sometimes for something.

    I guess what I was trying to get at is that I have some worries about phd life. Grants are extremely competitive, pay is substantially lower than md, faculty positions are scarce, industry means more money but has it's own drawbacks, can't shift over to treating patients if research becomes stagnant, etc
     
  11. OncoCaP

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    Yes, "sometimes."

    MD work tends to be higher stress than Ph.D. work on average. You really have to want to put up with a lot of pain & suffering to get that MD. It's a very hard road, and I don't see any indication that you have the motivation for it other than job stability (which isn't really enough in my opinion).

    You would be very wise to check out the job opportunities in whatever aspect of research you want to get into. It seems to me that the job market for Ph.D.'s in Biomedical Engineering is decent. Plus, you'll get paid to do the Ph.D. whereas you will need to pay to do the MD. You may want to do some internships as part of your Ph.D. and choose your advisor / project accordingly.
     
  12. jojocola

    jojocola Senior Member
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    phd. I have no wise words to say, I just feel it.:thumbup:
     
  13. FenderHM

    FenderHM Where there's a will...
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    although an MD isnt a research degree, if you want to do clinical research a MD might open a lot of doors, regardless of not attending a top 5 research school.

    if you're not dying to do clinical research or practice medicine, you're pretty much gonna hate years 1-4 of med school
     
  14. docmode

    docmode Member
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    I can relate to this situation. My boyfriend was in the exact same boat. His whole life he thought he wanted med school. There were warning signs. He never liked his hospital volunteer work and found the application, essay, part to be painful. He did take the med school offer and lasted exactly two months. Now he is in a PhD program. I don't get the feel you are doing the med school for the love of medicine so I think you will not like it. I would definitely follow your heart rather than your old path.
     
  15. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member
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    In general the expectation of med school is that you are there primarilly to be a clinician. If you have no interest in the clinical/practice aspects of med school, you are going to find yourself very unhappy in med school and residency. At the end of the road you can do research with either an MD or PhD, but it will be a very bumpy and expensive road if you do the MD without the practice focus.
     
  16. sirus_virus

    sirus_virus nonsense poster
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    Don't even go anywhere close to the md school. In fact, dont even drive past it.
     
  17. CTtarheel

    CTtarheel Senior Member
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    You'll need the PhD to get grant money. From my understanding there's only a limited amount of federal grant money reserved for MD's and it's used up mostly by MD/PhD's.

    If research is what you love, get the PhD. It's easy to compensate for not having an MD as you can simply invite one into your research project for the clinical stuff you need to do. I think it'd be hard to get a research position and funding though without a PhD.
     
  18. eternalrage

    eternalrage Even Kal has bad days...
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    So you like research...
    You like your PHD program...
    You like the school that the PHD program is in...

    You'll end up working like a dog either way, whether you pick MD or PhD. The difference is that in the latter you already know you like it, and they will pay you to do it. Or you could pick the former, gamble on it being your life calling, and hope for the best while risking your financial future and a lifetime of "what ifs."
     
  19. SupergreenMnM

    SupergreenMnM Peanut, not chocolate
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    Actually, you can get an MD and then do a postdoc fellowship, just a like a PhD does. You can apply for any money that a PhD does, plus some extra that is set aside for physician scientists. The postdoc is where both get the real experience that you'll need if you want to become a PI. If you are interested in doing research AND medicine, then no doubt go for the MD as w/PhD you are outa luck. If you are SURE you only want to do research, go straight for PhD. I wish I had known this back when I was making the same decision you are now!
     
  20. opusthecat

    opusthecat Junior Member
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    This is not true. They don't care whether you have a PhD or an MD. They only care about how good your grant proposal is.

    Also, there are loan repayment programs http://www.lrp.nih.gov/ if you end up doing clinical research, or work for the NIH. The advantage of getting the MD is it keeps both research and clinical paths open, whereas a PhD will limit you to research.
     
  21. opusthecat

    opusthecat Junior Member
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    lol. just read your post after posting mine. My feelings exactly.
     
  22. HreComesTheSun

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    agreed here as well...i know so many MD's who do almost all research, quite successfully, and are very happy with the path they took. and of course i know no PhD's who do clinical work. having PhD only will also limit you much more than having MD only if you want to do clinical or even translational research (even just by having that basic medical knowledge). we collaborate with a PhD who has had to reach out to several PI's with MD's to stay on the cutting edge of translational research. you won't have this problem if you are the PI with the MD. if you want to do only basic science research, PhD is perfectly fine. but i wouldn't worry about the research opportunities at a med school that doesn't focus on it. i had the same problem after interviewing at one such school. i was told by many profs that you can find good research opps anywhere, and was pleasantly surprised to find that they were right.

    i totally feel your pain, but after being on a medical campus, and seeing both sides, i've realized that an MD (or MD/PhD) opens up alot more doors than a PhD , even in research. if you are strongly concerned about money, i would also suggest looking at MD vs PhD salaries in research. in my lab, the MD's make at least double what the PhD's do, with the same job. see if this is worth it for you financially in the long run (ie including paying back loans)...:luck: with your decision
     
  23. HreComesTheSun

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    :laugh:
     
  24. orrghead16

    orrghead16 decimals and dollars
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    For what its worth,

    It is much harder to become a researcher with an MD degree. I know of two MDs who wanted to do research, but couldn't cut it. Both are now completely in clinical. Granted, there are A LOT of MDs who do research. The one I know more personally has encouraged me to pursue a PhD if I ever step into her shoes. Got her MD and did a research post-doc. Couldn't cut it with the grants and went back to clinical. Fine now, but you can tell what she wishes she would have done.

    Having an MD does not limit you because of the degree. But keep in mind that with an MD you have just spent the last four years training to be a doc. Your counterparts that will be competing for grants (PhDs) have spent their time learning to research and write grants.

    Out of an MD program and you have to catch up to to PhDs in a post-doc. Meanwhile, they are on their way to a post-doc as well. IMO, you are a step behind with the MD. If you want to do pure research. Do the PhD.

    As of now, I would do the PhD. You sound a lot like me. Love research but want some 'advantages' of being a doctor. My heart keeps telling me PhD. That is where I will end up. Maybe I will do a combined MSTP, but the PhD is the only for sure.

    Because this is a pre-allo forum, I think most people are going to be biased towards the MD by nature. Both degrees are just as limiting as the other. It just depends on the way you look at it. Both have thier options. It sounds like you will be happier by starting the PhD program. That is just IMO. You should read all these opinions and find out which post is what you wanted to hear.
     
  25. HreComesTheSun

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    i'd hate to see you being misinformed OP, but these statements are just not true. having an MD in no way makes it harder to do research. there are many many PhD's who also lose their labs, but as it was pointed out, MD's have the luxury of falling back on clinical work, if research fails.

    the experiences that PhD students have in grant writing is extremely variable from lab to lab...some PI's want to write everything themselves, others make the students do everything

    an MD does not limit you at all as far as research. for example, in your medical research, if you decide to work with clinical specimens, you will have much easier access to those as an MD. and as stated above, having an MD will give you the options of medicine and/or research. PhD will limit you to research only, and you will have a harder time doing clinically-relevant research.

    to be honest, i am very happy with my choice to do a PhD, i really enjoy research. but when i applied, i did not apply to med school at the same time, so i did not have the same options that you do. if i had known then what i know now though, i may have made very different choices. to put it in perspective, of the 4 PhD students graduating this year from my building, 3 are pursuing medical school. 2 of us have been accepted, and one will likely not be (as you can see from this and from sdn in general, your MD acceptance is precious)

    and i hope you don't feel that you are expected to focus on the clinic if you go to med school. there are plenty of students that do this, and you will be seen as a valuable asset as someone who has medical knowledge and contributes to both scientific scholarship and medicine

    i think it's wonderful that you are interested in research and want to do a PhD, i just hope you are absolutely sure about giving up a hard-earned med school acceptance...

    that's my 4 cents, gave my 2 earlier
     
  26. OncoCaP

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    Hello HreComesTheSun,

    Do you think that Ph.D. students have more time (% wise) to focus on basic research than a student getting an MD-only does? Do you think it would be easier to get publications as Ph.D. student than going through an MD-only program? I suppose the type of research the OP wants to do would make a difference. The OP seems to be leaning toward a more toward non-clinical research.

    I have a Ph.D. and I thought it was pretty nice how you could focus on what you are interested in (for example, writing lots of articles, if that was your interest). It seems to me that getting a Ph.D. is an excellent preparation for research and that an MD would need to play some catch-up. It must be difficult to stay in touch with a research field while going through clinical rotations (clerkships) and possibly during MS1/2. Apparently the school the OP is talking about is also not very research-focused.

    I'm going back to get an MD, mainly because I expect we will have a physician shortage and I want to help out. I'll look for opportunities to do research as well but I'm not going to pretend that it will be easy to do research and become an excellent clinician. I had a pathology professor tell me that there are some decisions that become inevitable in this respect (will you focus on basic research or clinical research, have patients or not, etc.).
     
  27. HreComesTheSun

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    hey oncocap,

    alot of what you're saying definitely makes sense, and i do agree with your points. i guess i assumed the OP was interested in clinical research because he/she mentioned something about medical research. i also wonder why someone would go through studying for that horrible mcat, submitting amcas, secondaries, and spending money and time on interviews if they didn't have a fairly strong interest in medicine. but yes, if non-clinical research is the ultimate goal, PhD would be the way to go.

    btw, your avatar looks like a nature cover. if you published there, i'm very jealous right now
     
  28. Gut Shot

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    I'm a PhD -> MD so I'll weigh in. You have quite a dilemma on your hands.

    I went PhD because I was into research. About three years into it I realized that research has become a brutal existence. Fighting for grant money, whoring oneself for funding, scrabbling for 3-5+ years as a postdoc in order to land that elusive assistant prof job for 60K/year, it didn't sound like fun anymore. Not to say there aren't many satisified researchers, but the level of uncertainty and disillusionment was very disappointing.

    Since the grass often looks greener, and because I had kicked around the idea of applying to med school for awhile, I threw my hat into the ring. Fortunately I was accepted in my first application cycle. Now I'm a PGY-2 pathology resident.

    I'm very happy with my decision to go MD after PhD. I can't speak for everyone, but to me the PhD can stand for "Pigeon holeD." Basic science research is an inherently myopic endeavor, and it felt very restrictive. Given the limited production of MDs in this country, the degree really does open doors.

    Another huge plus is the structured nature of MD training. Forty five months and you're done, with numerous defined training pathways afterwards. It also practically guarantees and enviable salary with excellent job stability. Try saying that about any PhD.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to sell you on med school. If you really don't want to be a physician then you shouldn't go. I will say, however, that if you go PhD and have second thoughts you're going to have a very tough time changing course. It would probably set you back at least three years, and you'd have the stigma of being a PhD dropout reapplicant who turned down a prior acceptance. Yeesh.
     
  29. Go PhD. It's less expensive, and from what is above, is probably the route you should go
     
  30. Jokerman99

    Jokerman99 New Member
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    It sounds like you're more concerned about the school that what profession you want to go into...I would say only do a PhD if you really LOVE research otherwise go with a MD...BTW the fact that you're asking this question means you don't really love research, if you did, you would'nt even consider going to a school where you would'nt get the training you need to do what you love doing...hence go for the MD...
     
  31. Jokerman99

    Jokerman99 New Member
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    It sounds like you're more concerned about the school that what profession you want to go into...I would say only do a PhD if you really LOVE research otherwise go with a MD...BTW the fact that you're asking this question means you don't really love research, if you did, you would'nt even consider going to a school where you would'nt get the training you need to do what you love doing...hence go for the MD...
     
  32. HreComesTheSun

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    great, i sensed that as well

    also OP, i don't know if you are aware of this, but when you start a PhD program, you are in no way guaranteed that degree. at my school, 2 strikes on the qualifying exam and you leave with a masters. not that uncommon. then you become just another student with a masters reapplying to med school (if you choose to do so).

    when you start med school, you are just about guaranteed that MD
     
  33. SupergreenMnM

    SupergreenMnM Peanut, not chocolate
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    Also...at most grad schools if your gpa drops below 3.0, and at some if you get a C at all, its probation or /wavebybye time, in which case nothing. Don't pass your prelims-->try to get masters. So yeah...don't think of the PhD as a guarantee just because you're into grad school.
     
  34. ut2010

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    I have a Ph.D. already and am currently going to medical school.

    Based on my experiences, I would recommend getting the MD. An MD can do research and do some pretty amazing research.

    MDs have access to patients, specimens, etc. much easier than Ph.Ds do.

    Also there is so much uncertainity with grant money that having an MD will guarentee you a source of income, regardless of your funding situation. :thumbup:
     
  35. Dakota

    Dakota Senior Member
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    I would argue unless you REALLY want to do medicine, then don't get the MD. Medical training (school residency, etc) is a long, painful process. Even the most enthusiastic become bitter and jaded. This isn't to say medicine doesn't have good points, it certainly does. But if you are waffling, going to medical school is a poor decision.
     
  36. SupergreenMnM

    SupergreenMnM Peanut, not chocolate
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    I would say the same for the PhD. It will be 4-6 years, plus one or more post docs. In the end you end up with less career flexibility than with the MD. Neither are exactly easy training, but if he knows he loves medicine and research, and has already gotten into medical school...well he would have to wait a year to go PhD and then give up the medicine part of his future.
     

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