If not interested in academic medicine, is the MD-PhD worth it?

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STLRamsfan1986

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If you aren't interested in going into academic medicine (the traditional career trajectory for the vast majority of MD-PhD graduates), does doing the MD/PhD make sense? I know that I don't want to be just a practicing physician, but I also know that I don't want to be a PI running a lab as well. Some things that interest me right now are global health/policy work and biotech entrepreneurship/VC/consulting, but these are both areas I need to explore further. Given my feelings, is the MD-PhD worth it?
 

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My guess is that you'd be better served by an MD/MPH or MD/MBA program. Many programs (not all) will let you get a PhD in Public Health, though. Just my 2 cents.

-X

If you aren't interested in going into academic medicine (the traditional career trajectory for the vast majority of MD-PhD graduates), does doing the MD/PhD make sense? I know that I don't want to be just a practicing physician, but I also know that I don't want to be a PI running a lab as well. Some things that interest me right now are global health/policy work and biotech entrepreneurship/VC/consulting, but these are both areas I need to explore further. Given my feelings, is the MD-PhD worth it?
 

achamess

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Yes, I will echo the OP's sentiments. I do like basic research very much, but the entrepreneurial possibilities for basic and translational research attract me as well. Is it worth doing an MD/Phd if one is not intending to do strictly academic medicine? Can one be a practicing physician and say also be a researcher at a biotech company instead of a university medical school?
 
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totipocincy

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Certainly there are MD/PhDs that are doing the types of things you hope to do one day. My mentor during undergrad was one of the initial Tri-I MD/PhDs, did a residency in IMed, fellowship in Endocrinology and then went in to industry. He's now the head of a team that developed a billion dollar drug for Eli Lilly. Clinically, he has a very small group of interesting patients, and does a month in the hospital a year to maintain privileges there. However, he laments that his job has become heavily administrative. To some that may be a plus, for others...not so much. What I hoped to show from this is that having an MD/PhD under your belt doesn't define what you will do with your life, but instead opens many new doors. If you're willing to put in 7-8 yrs to do it, having both degrees will enable you to do just about anything you want; if at that point you want to do business rather than residency, I'm sure the top business schools would clamor over you. Though I don't know anyone that's gone out of our MSTP to do an MPH or MBA, I know a few that strongly considered it.

That said, 8 years is a long time, especially when during the training process you are likely going to be told that you need to go into academic medicine on a frequent basis. :confused:
 

Maxprime

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Some things that interest me right now are global health/policy work and biotech entrepreneurship/VC/consulting, but these are both areas I need to explore further. Given my feelings, is the MD-PhD worth it?

As stated above, those seem more related to an MBA/MPH type course of study. Most schools have these, they're just not advertised as much - but if you can get into an MD program you can get into pretty much any other program in a school. The only hurdle is to get the MD program on board.

An MD/PhD is a waste if you go into private practice . . . if you did it just for your career. If you just enjoy research and want to spend a few years in the lab working on a problem that interests you, then I don't think that's a waste. I know this sounds naive - but we get caught up into this mentality of doing 10 fellowships while raising 30 orphans and writing a book on the side before we're 40.

Most attendings you speak to will tell you to enjoy the ride. While it seems like it just sucks now, we're at a stage where we learn something new every day and are constantly getting to try new things. Enjoy this phase of your career - it's the point with the least responsibility - do what makes you happy.
 

DeadCactus

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I think you'd be better off pursuing an MD +MS degree and then getting an MBA after graduation (for entrepeneurship) or an MD + MPH (for health policy stuff).

Technology entrepenurship is less about a technical skill and more about being able to recognize and oppurtunity and sell it to others...
 

Brunette1981

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My school has established MD/MBA programs and MD/MPH programs, the latter is probably very common and the former is probably not uncommon at places with associated business schools.

If you are not interested in bench research, I would probably not apply MD/PhD - either of the other degrees would suit you better (although they *are* dissimilar so I would probably figure out which one you really want, global health or business).

Traditionally, the PhD is in a biological science and involves bench research - some schools will allow people to do a PhD in business (again, my school does) or epidemiology, etc but I get the sense they will allow MUCH MUCH fewer of these people, <1 per year on average. So, considering gaining admissions to an MSTP is already very competitive and you have to declare a PhD interest on the application, I would think it would be much harder to get into any program wanting to do a business or epi PhD. Not impossible, but you are vying for 1 slot instead of 10 or so. If you decide to do that, I would strongly encourage applying to straight-MD and MD+(MBA or MPH) as a backup.
 
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