DPT/PhD vs. MD/PhD

Discussion in 'Physical Therapy' started by wacokid, Jun 13, 2008.

  1. wacokid

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    Hi, I'm currently an undergrad senior, and I'm trying to decide whether to do PT/PhD or try for MD/PhD. My GPA is pretty crappy and I don't have the prereqs for MD/PhD, so I would take a year of post-bac pre med before applying to that. Mostly, though, I'm trying to figure out if it's worth it. I want to do some clinical work, but mostly do research on neurological disorders that involve movement. PT school is quite expensive, and many MD/PhD programs are fully funded. Not only that, but PT salaries are much lower (lower than what they should be, I think). However, a full MD/PhD can take up to 13 years including postdoc and fellowships, and I'd have to take the xtra year for the classes. AND I many not get in. PT school, on the other hand, I can cram the prereqs in next year, though it will be quite difficult. Does anyone know what the salary differences are for DPT/PhD s vs. MD/PhDs, and whether it's possible to get into an MD/PhD program with a 3.3 undergrad GPA, but a very strong GPA in courses taken post-bac and good MCATS?

    Thanks in advance.
     
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  3. sexyman

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    Pretty much no chance of getting into a MD/PhD program with a 3.3...

    I know of a guy that got his PhD at Duke, then applied to the MD program when he was done. He now has his MD, PhD...but didnt do the MD/PhD program. Something to think about I guess. Definitely takes a while. O and then he went to Harvard gen surgery, then Harvard plastic surgery.

    If you want to be a physician I dont see why you should become a physical therapist no matter how long it takes.
     
  4. bigdan

    bigdan SDN Donor

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    I don't entirely agree with the above; you might be able to get in with a 3.3, especially if you have publications and a great MCAT. What might save time, and would certainly cost less, is give the MCAT a try. You get a 36 or 37 or better, you could give the med school interview circuit a try with a 3.3. At my school (Stony Brook in NY) we ABSOLUTELY have folks with GPA under 3.5 in our MD/PhD classes.

    As for salaries, there isn't tons of room (as far as I know) for a PT/PhD to do both clinical and research work in the private practice arena, which would make me wonder about getting the PhD at all. You could do academic PT, but I suspect the salaries are not as great for academic PTs as compared to an active private practice PT clinician. Now, MD/PhD could work just as a clinical MD - salary ceiling is as high as the specialty chosen - or do academic MD/PhD work, where the salary is perhaps lower, but you have a lab perhaps and hopefully some funding, OR you could do some form of corporate/business "medicine" - work for a pharmaceutical company, a law firm, an insurance company, etc. It should be noted that a plain ol' MD could do the same. Of significance, as pointed out by wacokid, is that many MD/PhD are funded - hell, at our school you get free tuition AND $25,000/yr stipend for MD/PhD program!!!!

    Anyways, I think the MD route gives you more options with better economic incentive but a much longer pathway. Good luck in whatever you choose.

    dc
     
  5. wacokid

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    Fair enough. What if it goes to a 3.5 after post-bac, any chance then? Or, specifically, if most of the prereqs for med school have very high grades individually?

    Anyway, I'm trying to figure out what's best. Like I said, I want to do research on movement disorders, but also see patients from time to time, and possibly recruit them for research. I know of many PT/PhDs that do this, so I know it's viable. I'm just wondering what the salary is like for someone at a University with that combination of degrees...as a part time clinician, part time teacher (preferably of physical therapy students),with the majority of time spent on clinical research.


    I'm also just generally curious about the experiences that PT/PhDs have had, where they work, how their lifestyle is, etc.
     
  6. wacokid

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    Ghetto edit: hadn't seen Dan's reply.

    My GPA will likely be higher than that, and I likely will have publications, a co-authorship on a paper on Cerebral Palsy, and also credit in a textbook on Anesthesiology by Dr. Admir Hadzic. If I do give it a shot, I intend, of course, to study the sh** out of the MCATS, and do as well as humanly possible. My LORs will be pretty good as well, one will probably be by Dr. Hadzic, one by the head of the lab responsible for the paper I mentioned, and one by one of my undergrad teachers, not sure whom yet. I may take that year even before PT school, as there's no sense in rushing, so I may give it a go. Thanks very much for the advice!
     
  7. bigdan

    bigdan SDN Donor

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    Okay.

    So I went to OT school in upstate NY. We had a new PT program started while I was there and the program director was a PT/PhD. The rumor was that she was hired for $80,000/yr; she does teaching, admin, and research. I have no idea about her lifestyle or work hours, so I won't try to lie to you.

    A guy I met at an anesthesiology conference in NY who is just finishing anesthesiology residency with an MD/PhD took a job at a NY hospital in an academic center, with starting pay at $225,000. He will do 4 days a week of operating room anesthesiology, and one designated day in academics, for research (he does bench research in pharmacology). He expects to work 50-60/hrs during the week, although that may increase to meet his research needs.

    The numeric discrepancy is glaring, but there are some things to take note of: 1) $80K in upstate NY is a lot of money, 2) PT's have malpractice costs that are orders of magnitude lower than physicians (although if academic, your school will likely pay your fees either way), 3) the "demand" - like overnight call, nasty surgeons, dying patients - might be a bit greater in MD work, depending on what you choose to do. If you do MD/PhD in dermatology, you have reached utopia, and all of the above does not apply.

    dc
     
  8. bigdan

    bigdan SDN Donor

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    Hadzic letter?

    HUGE.

    I wanna do anesthesiology, and if you had this guy write you a letter, and/or call the medical school of your choice to "put in a good word", you might go places. That guy is a big name (as you know).

    At my school (sorry to keep saying that, but it's the only med school perspective I have), they seem to have a preference for basic bench research. So is the CP paper looking at ADL in CP, or at the muscle or nerve fibers?

    Either way, I ABSOLUTELY agree with sexyman's post - pick which career you want, and be a physician-scientist if you want that, and be a physical therapist-scientist if you want that.

    dc
     
  9. wacokid

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    I want to do neurology.

    And I got mad lucky, Admir is a good friend of mine, as is his son. Both them and I are fencers, and I'm Admir's coach, as well as his work out buddy. As I've always said, nothing beats New York for making connections.
     
  10. wacokid

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    Ghetto edit again, sorry about that:

    The CP paper is basically on ADL and functionality. It involves kinematic analysis pre-and-post- intervention, either constraint induced or Hand-arm bimanual (HABIT) training. Since I'm interested in neurorehabilitation, this was a good fit for me. I'm also quite interested in taking a more neurological approach, however, as there's a limit to what you can do purely with kinematics.

    I also forgot to mention that I go to Columbia University, hence the NY connections. The CP work is with Dr. Andrew Gordon.

    So with the LORs I mentioned, this kind of experience, a year of good grades in my prereqs, and very good MCATS, I have a shot?
     
  11. helpfuldoc2b

    helpfuldoc2b Banned
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    It seems like you only posted this thread hear, which usually means you want people to tell you that PT/PhD is the way to go, if you were to type the same thread in the MD forum they would of probably laughed at you as there is NO comparison what so ever!
     
  12. wacokid

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    Actually, no, I just thought crossposting was frowned upon. No comparison between what, salaries?
     
  13. Bad0 Fish0

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    no comparison between what? lol, not EVERYONE wants to be a doctor, and not everyone is meant to be one. for some people, lifestyle, time with their families, a quicker route to a career, and a more stress-free work environment are more important than money.
     
  14. Elbrus

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    Funny, aside from Bad Fish, all of the respondents to your message on a DPT/OTD board have been from people in medicine. Anyhow, Have you met with any of the faculty at Columbia, or elsewhere? Briefly glancing at what NYU faculty are doing, a few have PhDs and research interest in neuroscience.

    As a non-trad student who changed careers to PT, I too weighed quality of life over salary. I love what I do, and I do not need to justify low job satisfaction or stress for a large paycheck. I owe 50K in student loans, at 1.65% interest, and we may soon be getting federal loan forgiveness. I also am making more than the PT/PhD department director cited above at only 4-years out of school, sans-PhD.

    As it's been said many times before, I think the other big thing is with choosing any career is to understand what you're getting into, weigh your options, and know your biases. I think it is also important to understand that very few PTs know about the SDN forum, so the majority of contributors are former-PTs (or OTs) and will readily give you their perspective.
     
    #13 Elbrus, Jun 14, 2008
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2008
  15. bigdan

    bigdan SDN Donor

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    Wacokid-

    I reiterate that choosing whether you want to be a PT or an MD is still the fundamental choice in front of you - you can make a living and do research in either field, and likely do so with or without the PhD.

    You can and will - as evidenced by my posts and the others offered here - get a bunch of anecdotal evidence as to salaries and workload, as well as generalities/stereotypes about either profession. The work in front of you now, it seems, is to find which career you'd be happiest in.

    And regarding the other info you've offered, I think it's great that you personally know Hadzic - if you are comfortable enough with him, see what he says about your chances at getting in, if he's willing to call places, etc. Fencing has always fascinated me, but you guys move so damn fast, I can never tell who's scoring. And yes, NY is a great place to make connections.

    Again, good luck in whatever you choose.

    dc
     
    #14 bigdan, Jun 14, 2008
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2008
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  17. wacokid

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    Thanks for all the help everyone!

    Anyway, Dr. Hadzic doesn't have a good idea of what my chances are, but from what I;m gathering it's tough but doable. One of the people who works for him said his letter basically guaranteed him Med School. He is really pushing me towards getting the MD, and he said he's willing to call places. A lot of PTs I talk to say "WHY not?" to getting the MD instead of the DPT. The more I think about it, the more I like the idea of being a neurologist. I think I could handle the lifestyle, it is what you make of it after all. Anyway, I have some thinking to do, hehe.

    One last question...other than number of hours, etc., what are some of the big differences between PT work and being an MD? PTs, why do you get such satisfaction out of it (and I'm not asking because I think you shouldn't...I have the utmost respect for PTs and love what they do)? MDs, why did you choose to get the MD?

    Noob questions, I know, but then again, I am a N00B. ;)

    Thanks again.
     
  18. bigdan

    bigdan SDN Donor

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    I'll tell you my story, since this has become our personal chat room.

    I was an OT for seven years. I LOVED my job, and did get a lot of reward from the job I did. You TRULY get to help people in rehab...they don't feel good, or cannot do something - and thru your intervention and training, you can help. That's huge. I left OT because I felt I could do my - and do it well - without really having to keep up on a lot of science. Now, I did keep my skills up, and did attend a lot of continuing ed, (mostly neurorehab, actually!) but I was seeking more of a dynamic field with a foundation in science, so off to medical school I went. That's my gig.

    dc
     
  19. truthseeker

    truthseeker Senior Member

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    I echo what others have posted. Choose what you want to be when you grow up, then do whatever it takes to do that. If you think you will have a better chance of producing meaningful research in your chosen field as a PT then do that, if as an MD then do that.

    One thing that I am sensing in this thread is that you seem to believe that getting into PT is a cakewalk. It really isn't. Smaller classes, fewer schools better hours = a lot of people applying for few spots. People do get in with 3.3-3.5 GPAs but the average number is higher than that.
     
  20. wacokid

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    Oh yeah, I definitely know that, I'm not assuming I'll just automatically get in. This next year is very important for me in terms of grades. However, I do think I have a good shot at doing very well on the GREs, and I've personally contacted many of the program directors, who said based on my numbers I should definitely get past the first rounds of admissions. The only programs I'm really looking at for PT are Columbia (they're about to start a PT/EdD program), Delaware, WashU, and OSU. All of these programs have a DPT/PhD program, and I've talked to all the program heads. I've also talked extensively with people from Northwestern, though they don't have a joint program, and I might apply there as well. Kansas has a PT/PhD program, but I am just not a big fan of Kansas.
     
  21. Elbrus

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    Waco-
    I didn't know about the OSU & Delaware combined programs, I just added them to the education programs sticky. Thanks!

    Northwestern supposedly has a joint DPT/PhD in engineering.
     
  22. wacokid

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    Yep, no problem. Delaware's site is waaay out of date, I suggest calling the program director, Dr. Binder-Macleod. He's very nice/helpful, and can give much more precise info. Delaware is also very generous with money, as in for example the fact that some students can get a lot of their DPT covered. OSU was quite cold when I spoke with them , but it's an option. For some reason they require exercise physiology as a prereq though, which is an issue for me as Columbia doesn't offer the class.

    I know about the Northwestern DPT/PhD, but I'm very far from an engineer, hehe.
     
  23. Bad0 Fish0

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    truthseeker makes a really good point here.. it didn't even click in my brain when you mentioned your GPA.. but as i've posted on here numerous times when giving advice to people asking questions about their statistics, the year i applied we had the largest applicant pool at our school's PT program ever (it's this way at each school, i believe.. each year, the pool is getting larger) and the lowest GPA of an accepted applicant was a 3.4, with a 3.7 being our class' average. i would imagine it was slightly higher for the newly accepted class that will start in the fall. so yes, it's not a guarantee that your GPA is even good enough for many PT programs.. but like with anything else, you will find less competitive schools with a smaller applicant pool that are easier to get into.. but you may not get your first choices. as most people will tell you, DPT programs are harder to get into than many med schools right now.. not to mention the average class size is 35ish, with several hundred being admitted to med school each year, and often 2-3x a year, not just in the fall when most PT programs start.
     
  24. wacokid

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    Agreed. I'm decently competitive from what I've been told by program directors, but I may have to settle for a program that isn't my first choice. There are plenty in New York and California, however, and the location is very important to me. That is, if I don't get into a joint-degree program. If I do, I'll do that. If not, I'll simply do the DPT, work hard to make sure my GPA stays high there, and then apply to a separate PhD program (MRS at Northwestern or Biokinesiology at USC, for example). Thanks for the reality check anyway though, as it's always good to have other people to keep you grounded in reality.

    I'm leaning back towards PT after doing some more research and talking to current PTs. When I do work clinically, I really want a lot of personal contact with the patient, I don't just want to hand out medicine. For what I want, I think PT is better suited. But we'll see what happens.
     
  25. truthseeker

    truthseeker Senior Member

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    wacokid,

    You mentioned that you didn't like Kansas. I am not sure if you knew this but I think that the PT program is in Kansas City, not Lawrence (not sure though) I know that they have some really good students that come out of there. I was a CI in KC for 5 years. I know that Janice Loudon PT PhD ATC is a wonderful person, really smart and many times published. Don't write it off automatically because you didn't like Roy Williams :laugh::laugh:
     
  26. wacokid

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    Hehe, fair enough. I'd just like to stay on the coasts, to be honest (though St. Loius would be ok). They do have a PT/PhD program, so I'll definitely apply, but there are a few other considerations for me as well. First is that there's not fencing anywhere near there (and I just couldn't give it up, though this is a problem with St. Louis as well), and two that my girlfriend will be on one of the coasts. Yes, I know, anything can happen, but since I already want to be on either coast I figure it's a good reason.

    The two main PT programs in NYC are Columbia and NYU, correct? The other ones aren't ranked as highly, I think, but I don't really know because there aren't many rankings out there, and they're not always accurate anyway. In terms of quality of education, quality of life, and price, what are the best PT schools? I'm also interested in whether you can take a specialization track in your last year (for me, in neurology or neurorehabilitation, obviously), and whether there's a required research project (in my case, that would be good, since I'd immediately be starting a PhD, and there's a chance it would count as part of my required research, thus cutting down on my time. I know that's how the Columbia DPT/EdD program will work).

    By the way, any direct experiences on how the EdD is received versus the PhD (In the States, not abroad)? would it limit my chances at employment?
     
  27. wacokid

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    Actually, wow, Kansas claims you can finish their DPT/PhD in 4-5 years, and it's incredibly cheap. Anyone know what the quality of either program (especially the PhD) is like? I'm a bit skeptical, especially about the time.
     

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