How do I know if I'm a better candidate for MD programs vs MD/PhD Programs?

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SolarPistachio

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I'm currently applying for the 2023/2024 med-school cycle. I have over 3000 research hours (3yrs of working in a lab), 1 pending first author publication, but I also have a few hundred shadowing hours in rad onc, neurology, as well as tutoring and clinical volunteer experience. I'm absolutely certain that I want to do Medicine, but I don't know if I am a better candidate for MD PHD or just MD. (for reference, I am a non-trad applicant, graduated undergrad in 2020, and have a MS in BME, but after doing hands-on neuro research in the field, realized that being a doctor is more aligned with what I want to do down the road) Please help, any advice would be much appreciated!

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What are your stats? There are a limited number of MSTP and MD/PhD spots compared to MD. You will need non-clinical volunteering within the community for MD programs (tutoring usually does not match that as it is meant to be geared towards underserved populations).
 
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What's your MCAT? We also have a Physician Scientist forum so you can see some of the applicant profiles and talk to our experts there too.

You also need to understand fully the ultimate goal you want with both degrees. You can do research with just the MD or just the Ph.D., so you have to be sure that both degrees are what you really want.
 
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What's your MCAT? We also have a Physician Scientist forum so you can see some of the applicant profiles and talk to our experts there too.

You also need to understand fully the ultimate goal you want with both degrees. You can do research with just the MD or just the Ph.D., so you have to be sure that both degrees are what you really want.
I just took it, and got a 519. During my shadowing time, I shadowed an MD in rad onc, and an MD-PhD in neurology. I guess I phrased my question incorrectly. Since I have been able to observe both sides I can see myself doing either one.
 
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I just took it, and got a 519. During my shadowing time, I shadowed an MD in rad onc, and an MD-PhD in neurology. I guess I phrased my question incorrectly. Since I have been able to observe both sides I can see myself doing either one.
Definitely talk with the folks in the other forum. There is also the American Physician Scientist Association which had many videos. NIH also has lots of videos on this as well.

You have to want to do it after 6 to 8 years... otherwise there are other options with just an MD.
 
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M1 here—I was in a very similar position as you last cycle and only applied MD with zero regrets. The question is really what do YOU want to do? It’s important to define what we mean by “research,” which for our purposes here can be being the PI of a basic science, or maybe clinical, lab. Do you really, really want to be the PI of a basic science lab and all the grant chasing that entails? Do you want your current or former PI’s lifestyle? Are you okay with likely working in academia? If so, then get an MD/PhD. But if you don’t have that inner drive to run your own lab while seeing patients one day a week, then go straight MD. I had over 6000 hours of research on my application and while interviewers asked about it, I convinced at least some of them I wanted to put medicine over research and got accepted.

If you haven’t already, shadow a physician in a community setting far from an academic ivory tower and see what medicine with zero research looks like. As it turns out, medicine at big academic hospitals with tons of research is not “normal medicine” for a lot of physicians and patients. Seeing this really helped me with my decision.

And pro tip, don’t let your PI pressure you into an MD/PhD if your heart isn’t in it. This is YOUR career and YOUR extra 4 years of school, not anybody else’s. Feel free to PM me if you have any questions.
 
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M1 here—I was in a very similar position as you last cycle and only applied MD with zero regrets. The question is really what do YOU want to do? It’s important to define what we mean by “research,” which for our purposes here can be being the PI of a basic science, or maybe clinical, lab. Do you really, really want to be the PI of a basic science lab and all the grant chasing that entails? Do you want your current or former PI’s lifestyle? Are you okay with likely working in academia? If so, then get an MD/PhD. But if you don’t have that inner drive to run your own lab while seeing patients one day a week, then go straight MD. I had over 6000 hours of research on my application and while interviewers asked about it, I convinced at least some of them I wanted to put medicine over research and got accepted.

If you haven’t already, shadow a physician in a community setting far from an academic ivory tower and see what medicine with zero research looks like. As it turns out, medicine at big academic hospitals with tons of research is not “normal medicine” for a lot of physicians and patients. Seeing this really helped me with my decision.

And pro tip, don’t let your PI pressure you into an MD/PhD if your heart isn’t in it. This is YOUR career and YOUR extra 4 years of school, not anybody else’s. Feel free to PM me if you have any questions.
Thanks, this insight is really helpful. At the moment it feels like I'm at a proverbial fork where both options seem balanced.
 
I agree with @JAK2-STAT3 and just wanted to echo as I do w/ all my advisees - the PhD is the nebulous part of the training. It may take 4 years but be prepared for it to take more. If that makes you second guess - just do the MD. If you need a research year that's pretty easy to accommodate.
 
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Do you want to be in the lab 80% of the time and in a clinical setting 20% of the time? Because that is what the powers that be hope will be the outcome if they give you that golden ticket.

If you could be happy being 20% lab and 80% clinic, do the MD only. You can do research without the PhD (many residencies and fellowships have research time built-in for this reason) and there are even MS Clinical Investigation degree programs operated through Clinical and Translational Research programs geared toward physicians in fellowship programs.
 
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