confused about M.D./Ph.D

Discussion in 'Physician Scientists' started by thismeanswar, Nov 22, 2005.

  1. thismeanswar

    thismeanswar Member
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    I am extremely confused about the way these dual degree programs works. What does one get a Ph.D. in? Are nonscience majors eligible to apply and enroll in these programs? Thanks all.
     
  2. jebus

    jebus Membership Revoked
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    Well, I think the goal of these programs is to create physician-scientists. It would be difficult to accomplish that with a Ph.D. in English Literature or Art History. Most MD/PhDs do research in the health sciences - but there are opportunities to pursue interdisciplinary research in Comp. Sci or Engineering. I don't really have a point. If you are interested in an alternate field of doctoral research while pursuing an MD/PhD contact a few schools and ask - they may be accommodating, though I sincerely doubt it. Or wait for another reply.
     
  3. Stroganoff

    Stroganoff Never give up.
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    Check out the MSTP forum. There's a lot of info there. The PhD is often offered through the med school or the grad school's bio/chem/biochem/genetics/immuno/neuroscience/whatever departments. Nonscience majors (from undergrad) are eligible to apply, but keep in mind you're competing with science majors with tons of research.

    Research is key. Lots of it. At least two solid years seems to be the average for applicants. Some have more, some have publications, but every md/phd thread I've read about has emphasized quality research experience.

    Good luck! I'll probably do the degrees separately, we'll see how lucky I get a few years from now though.
     
  4. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers
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    Most of the MD/PhD programs are funded with federal grants that cover the students' tuition and a stipend. The student is expected to rotate through and then choose a lab in which to do their doctoral work. Which labs are included depends on the source of funding but in general they are in the biological sciences because the goal is to train physician-scientists who will be "bench to bedside" investigators in their careers.

    Students attend 2 years of medical school (and may rotate through some labs during school vacations to see where they'd like to do their doctoral work). After the board exam, they take graduate school courses in the sciences, take qualifying exams and do full-time lab work until the dissertation is complete. At that point, the student does the 3rd year clerkships & 4th year electives required for the MD. The PhD is not awarded until the MD is completed.

    Strong applicants have excellent credentials as basic scientists (summer research, publications, funding) and the stuff necessary to impress the med school admissions committee (appreciation of the physician's role in patient care, volunteer or paid work with the sick/needy, etc). You basically need the credentials to be admitted to a PhD program and those needed to be admitted to the MD program.

    The type of work you end up doing depends on the work being done at that school and the "fit" you feel with others in the lab and the lab's leader.
     
  5. OddNath

    OddNath Senior Member
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    Yeah, as everyone else already said, research is the most important thing in MD/PhD admissions-- it can even trump a not-so-amazing MD-only profile. Your major in college isn't important.
     
  6. Thundrstorm

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    You don't have to be a science major, but you should probably have taken some advanced courses above and beyond the normal pre-reqs, and you definitely need extensive research experience. Most MD/PhDs get the PhD in a biomedical science, though you can also do engineering at many places, and epidemiology at a handful of places, and at even fewer places, a humanities PhD, like ethics or something in sociology. Read the MSTP forum and read www.intransit.us. Then post any remaining questions in the MSTP forum.
     
  7. sanford_w/o_son

    sanford_w/o_son locl jnky-gota thred man?
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    Among others, U Penn and U Chicago offer non-science PhDs as part of their MD/PhD programs.
     
  8. Phil Anthropist

    Phil Anthropist SDN Moderator
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    Moving to the Physician Scientist forum...
     
  9. thismeanswar

    thismeanswar Member
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    Does anyone know where I can find a list of specific M.D./Ph.D. programs?

    also, I'm extremely interested in going into neurology but would like to be involved in both the clinical and research areas of this specialty. Does an M.D. / Ph.D. (neuroscience) make the most sense for this career goal?
     
  10. Doctor&Geek

    Doctor&Geek 25 > 5 / 15 < 8
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  11. drbp

    drbp Junior Member

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  12. Vader

    Vader Dark Lord of the Sith
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    It really depends on what type of career you are interested in. The MD/PhD training will prepare you well for a career in both clinical medicine and basic research. For clinical research, the conventional wisdom suggests that getting a Ph.D. would not be of sufficient benefit to warrant spending the extra years doing so.

    In reality, getting a Ph.D. is not necessary to do either basic or clinical research. However, the extra training/experience will increase your qualifications and ability to conduct research. The MD does not prepare you for basic research, so most who go the MD-only research route end up taking time during medical school (i.e. 1 year) and fellowship to be in the lab and learn how to be a scientist.

    For neurology, a Ph.D. in neuroscience makes the most sense. However, it is not essential to get your PhD in an area that relates to your clinical field of interest. Conversely, doing a PhD in neuroscience does not guarantee that your research will relate in any way to the clinical field of neurology.

    Since you have already expressed interest in neurology and neuroscience, make sure that you find mentors in these clinical and basic science fields. When applying, pick out some specific areas in which you are interested and then find the people working in that area. That way, you can arrange to interview with them when visiting programs for interviews.

    Feel free to PM me if you would like more specifics...
     
  13. OddNath

    OddNath Senior Member
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    Hopefully, since that's my plan too! Also, choosing a PhD in neuroscience should still give you lots of options, since the field is so broad-- anything from perception to cell signalling. That, and as Vader said, your future career after that still isn't locked in stone depending on your research topic.
     

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