KD1655

10+ Year Member
Jul 25, 2007
126
0
241
Jersey
Status
Pre-Medical
I am currently a PhD student in Materials Science and Engineering, which is pretty much an interdisciplinary program between physics, chemistry, engineering, and biology in my case; I probably have about 2-2.5 year before defensing my thesis. My undergrad was in biomedical engineering with a minor in biology from the honors program at my state engineering school. I transfered from a federal military academy where I had a ~3.0 GPA (not impressive in general but top 1/5 of my class there). After transferring to biomedical engineering, I graduated with a 3.84 GPA. Therefore, my AMCAS GPA is 3.64 and my BCMP GPA is ~3.45. I have yet to take the MCAT but I'm getting about 32-34 on practice exams. By the time I defend my PhD, I should have ~5 first author papers and a couple more second or third author publication. I have alot (7 years or several thousand hours) of EMS experience, both paid and volunteer, as well as about 3 years of service as a volunteer firefighter and technical rescue specialist. I have no real clinical experience to speak of other than the EMS stuff. However, my EMS and fire experience coupled with my PhD research which has to do with chracterization and mechanisms of mild traumatic brain injury following non-impact blast waves has gotten me very interested in emergency medicine/ trauma resuscitation research. Essentially for my current research, I have helped to design a device that can create a ~1.5 atm pressure differential very very quickly (< 1 ms). After imparting the injury, I will look at the changes in the dielectric properties of the material by impedance spectroscopy over a broad frequency range. I am interested in osteopathic medicine because I honestly believe that they make the best emergency physicians; I have had quite a bit of experience with them both professionally aka EMS and as a patient. Therefore, while I think that I may have the credentials to attend an allopathic medical school, especially given the PhD, I am currently also looking at osteopathic schools as my first option. However, I am a bit concerned with my ability to conduct research in an academic setting with the DO/PhD degrees since osteopathic physician scientists are very few and qutie far between from what I have seen. Does anybody else have some insight into this issue?
 
Jun 12, 2009
168
0
0
St. Paul, MN
Status
Pre-Medical
However, I am a bit concerned with my ability to conduct research in an academic setting with the DO/PhD degrees since osteopathic physician scientists are very few and qutie far between from what I have seen. Does anybody else have some insight into this issue?
I am starting D.O. school this fall, four years after getting my Ph.D. From the academic side one of the first questions colleagues ask is if I plan on continuing research. As I'm sure you're aware, you're not going to be judged by academics (or at least most of them) for your other doctorate. Either you have a good grant proposal or not. Without a doubt there are a lot of politics involved in the grant funding process, but I don't really think the majority of academics have a D.O. bias. I do get some fraction of flat out D.O.-ignorance: "what is D.O.?" You answer that and none of them really thinks twice about it. While academics are more than happy to split hairs over where you did your Ph.D. or postdoc or who your advisors were and judge you on that, I simply don't think your average Ph.D. has enough experience with osteopathic physicians to really have the sort of institutional bias that we still have in some sectors of the M.D. world.

Now, from the physician side, I haven't worked with, nor shadowed any physician scientists. I did, however, interview with one at Western, and specifically asked about research opportunities (both in general at the school, and as far as the future), and she said that I wouldn't have any problems. As for both the M.D.'s and D.O.'s I shadowed, again, all asked if I was planning on continuing with research. All of the D.O.'s in particular emphasized that AOA and the schools want more Ph.D.'s and they want more physician scientists. So you will receive a lot of encouragement from the osteopathic side. I would imagine there is probably some AOA funding available for research projects, though I haven't looked into yet.

Just from my own experience, I think the Ph.D. will help ameliorate some of the bias you may encounter from the allopaths (although this bias is only something I've read about thus far). I mean folks can't completely dismiss those of us crazy enough to get two doctorates. So anyway, so far in my journey, which admittedly has just started, I think that people will treat you like they would any other physician scientist. Which means they'll run in the other direction as fast as they can. I don't see any reason why the degree itself would hold you back in getting NIH grants and the like in the future. Now if you are planning on going back into academia and get a position at a medical school, I have no idea about the politics there. Obviously, I don't think you'd have any issues getting hired at an osteopathic college (other than the normal difficulties of getting a faculty job). But at an allopathic school, no clue. My sample size of allopathic physicians thus far is small, so I can't answer this with anything other than a guess. I would imagine that publications are going to be the gold standard here as they are in every other realm of academia (in addition to some non-trivial consideration given to your clinical ability). If you have the pubs and they think you can bring in the money, I would think you should have a shot. If you're up against equally qualified M.D./Ph.D.'s, well, they might have a slight edge. But again, I'm speculating here--in the end schools want $$, and if you can bring in the grants, they're not going to be terribly picky about the initials after your name.