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I am considering leaving my PhD (in plant biology- researching aspirin derivatives in plants) and pursuing an MD program. I am a 4th year PhD student. My professor did not get tenure and left my university. I am currently labless. I think I may have done enough laboratory work to warrant a PhD. My current committee feels that this is the case. I could self-fund myself for the fall semester to complete my PhD. Alternatively, I could leave with a Master's. I do strongly feel like changing course and going into MD or an MD/PhD program. I completely think it is the right path for me.

Would it be better to complete my PhD or go get a M.S. degree then pursue an MD? I am potentially close to finishing my degree.
 

SurfingDoctor

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I am not super familiar with this, but have seen it where a PhD student's mentor essentially stopped supplying the money for them to complete the work and the department to which they belong filled in the monetary gap so they could complete the necessary experiments. I agree, you are close, and if your committee thinks you are too, I would talk to someone up the food chain in your department to see how you can complete your PhD without it being a disservice to you. In general, your department will put in the effort for you to graduate. Them not doing so reflects poorly on them for future students and applicants.
 
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Neuronix

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Would it be better to complete my PhD or go get a M.S. degree then pursue an MD? I am potentially close to finishing my degree.
I agree with Fencer and SurfingDoctor. I just want to add that it would be better for your future medical school application to complete the PhD rather than just taking the MS.
 

Elixir6

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I am considering leaving my PhD (in plant biology- researching aspirin derivatives in plants) and pursuing an MD program. I am a 4th year PhD student. My professor did not get tenure and left my university. I am currently labless. I think I may have done enough laboratory work to warrant a PhD. My current committee feels that this is the case. I could self-fund myself for the fall semester to complete my PhD. Alternatively, I could leave with a Master's. I do strongly feel like changing course and going into MD or an MD/PhD program. I completely think it is the right path for me.

Would it be better to complete my PhD or go get a M.S. degree then pursue an MD? I am potentially close to finishing my degree.
First off - absolutely finish your PhD. As the other posters said - you are so close! A PhD is far far superior to a Masters and it's an accomplishment people will recognize precisely because it is difficult.

You sound real bummed - many of us have been there. I didn't have it as bad as you, but at times I wished my advisor would leave so that someone would swoop down and rescue me. Maybe take a week or two of vacation if you don't have ongoing experiments you can't leave. Trust me, by taking that vacation all you'll miss is a couple of failed experiments, but in it's place you'll feel better and ready to tackle that project head-on. And if your project seems crummy/boring/useless to you now - and I hated my project - it's not actually. Now when people ask me about my PhD I light up and tell them how exciting it was and how the results were dramatically different from what we expected and the clinical implications. It's not that I am lying, with my perspective I am able to take my miniscule findings and spin them into a great story. I leave out the part where I almost cried in the cold room.

Can't agree with the previous posters more about seeking help. When you have what you think is a crummy project with failed X Y & Z all you want to do is hide in a corner and lick your wounds and hope no one notices. This is exactly the wrong strategy. You need to go out there and knock on 6-7 doors. Talk to each of your committee members, talk to your division head, talk to your grad school director, talk to the grad dean. When I felt in over my head, I had a great (but tough) committee advisor who was able to see my project from an outside vantage point and she was able to give me very good advice and break down what I had to do into simple steps. This help me tremendously. You need that, and someone to help you with funding and a new PI.

Lastly, going for an MD is great. It's an awesome career but it's not for everyone. You need to be someone who is more on the confident, extroverted and competitive side to like it general (though you can always be a pathologist). I would explore it. Just realize it's a long path and while your friends are buying a house, getting a dog, going on vacations etc... you will be stuck reading a book/on the wards/on nights, tired and eating freezer meals often. I think it's unlikely an MD/PhD program will take you at this stage, but it's worth asking. If they don't, you'll also be buying yourself 200K of debt. Still all worth it in my opinion.
 

mark-ER

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I triple-agree with everyone... finish PhD. Taking a vacation seems like a great idea, then seek intra-departmental or university funding for the last semester, or even an external funding source (there are several that will pay for the last 6 months of 'thesis writing' work). Even if one last paper does not get completed or you did not finish exactly on the right foot, you will be glad you did rather than settling for "just" MS.

If you do get a PhD and you have even a shadow of a doubt about medical school -- (and you should not take that decision lightly, go into it with your eyes very wide open, it is a very, very tough road) -- consider other avenues where you can take advantage of your training, contribute to patient care and still continue to do meaningful research. Perhaps not as impactful as running your own R01-funded lab, but w/o the daily grind of writing/seeking grants and a spectre of not getting tenure & maintaining funding hanging over your head. One such avenue that appears to be perfectly suited to your talents may be clinical chemistry -- 2 year ACGME-accredited fellowship and you are off into practice, instead of 1+ year of post-bac MCAT, 4+ years of medical school, 3-7 years of residency, 2+ years of fellowship and if you still want to run a lab after that, another 2-4 years of post-doc. Really think about it before taking the plunge.

The clinical chem programs are few & far between and very competitive for PhDs (in my impression, you would do well if you had some mass spec experience) but getable. Let me know if you are intersted, PM me and I can direct you to a good person within my institution for advice.
 

QofQuimica

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Agree with the others that you should finish the PhD if possible. If it's not possible, then take the MS, but do try to explore every option to get the PhD first before settling for the MS.

Regarding medical school, I see nothing in your post that suggests you have a burning interest in patient care or clinical research. In which case I would say, no, you should not go to medical school even if the PhD doesn't work out. If you have to leave your current program with an MS, go get into a PhD program elsewhere and finish. If you do get the PhD, then you should apply for post docs and continue on in your current field. An MD is not a stopgap to do for fun or to help fill your life while you figure out what you want to be when you grow up. If you don't need an MD to accomplish your career goals, then don't start yourself out on a very expensive and time-consuming boondoggle to try to get one.
 
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