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Is it too late to consider MD/Phd?

Discussion in 'Physician Scientists' started by jaime52, Jan 14, 2014.

  1. jaime52


    Apr 2, 2013
    Hello, I am a junior Biochemistry major who went into college sure I wanted to go to grad school to get a PhD. I completely ruled out all aspects of medicine.

    However, after working in a virology-related lab for a semester (I stopped working there when I transferred to a different school), I started to realize that medical research really interests me. As much as I wished I cared more about general scientific discoveries, I really only get excited when I hear about medical discoveries or new medical devices.

    Is it too late for me to consider? I have a 3.9 GPA, and a lot of research experience. I worked 2.5 years in a corn genetics lab, 1 semester in a biochemistry/virology lab and now I work in a neuroscience lab (where I plan to stay until graduation). I have my name on a paper that my corn genetics PI is submitting (it hasn't been accepted yet), but not as a main author. Do you think it is bad I have jumped around labs? I left on good terms with both, I just transferred and realized plant sciences wasn't for me. I also have no real extracurriculars besides tutoring chemistry for the Student Success Center on campus, and that is a paid position. I also have just begun shadowing this winter break and have only shadowed one day in clinic (I shadow the same doctor in surgery tomorrow). I am taking the MCAT this Jan 25 and have been preparing. I imagine my score will give me a good idea if a MD/PHD is a possibility.

    I guess I am also not 100% sure it is what I want to do. I know I want to do medical research of some sort and have heard that MD/PhDs get better grant funding. Also, I think the integration of different fields is a great way to bring advances, and I will be more aware/equipped as a MD/PhD. I just don't know what area of research or medicine I am interested in. It all seems awesome, but no one area really draws me more than another. Anyone have any insight? I am sorry this is so long.
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  3. Microglia

    Microglia 5+ Year Member

    Jun 26, 2012
    Sounds like a solid background for MD/PhD. Prep for the MCAT and do well on it, and get some more clinical exposure to be able to defend your interest in practicing medicine.

    Shadow some MD/PhD's and get a feel for the lifestyle. See if it's what you want. Best of luck!
  4. Drakeyboo


    Jan 14, 2014
    This question is interesting. I am wondering, is it even possible to get into MD/PhD without any volunteering, but just shadowing, research, and paid work? Assuming that the shadowing is 100+ hours, and that there is no volunteering of any kind (no hospital volunteering, no non-profit, nothing)
  5. uniqenam

    uniqenam MSTP c/o 20?? 2+ Year Member

    Jun 27, 2011
    Yes, 0 volunteering is required. My app was successful with around that many hours of shadowing, no volunteering.
  6. Fencer

    Fencer MD/PhD Director Physician PhD Faculty 10+ Year Member

    Oct 10, 2007
    Possible... The reason why shadowing has a higher value than volunteering is that the main purpose of this experiences is to provide you with sufficient role models to want to do the MD side of the equation. Now, in the MD/PhD programs where the SOM AC can veto candidates, you might also need some volunteering.
  7. jaime52


    Apr 2, 2013
    I actually have volunteered, just not in the hospital setting. I volunteered for a national park in Costa Rica full time for 3 months after graduating high school and was a Big Sister for BB/BS around my sophomore year in college for a year until my little moved.

    But I don't have any current volunteer experience and no on-campus extracurriculars/clubs I am or have been involved in.
  8. Shifty B

    Shifty B Physician 7+ Year Member

    Aug 13, 2008
    My concern here is that you said you "completely ruled out all aspects of medicine" initially and then your entire post doesn't mention anything about seeing patients, clinics, or other direct patient care. If you don't want to treat patients, you don't need to go to medical school and the extra 7-10 years of training would be better spent otherwise.

    I get the research but, what is your motivation for the MD part?
  9. jaime52


    Apr 2, 2013
    I guess what made me begin considering the MD/PhD was because I was told it would be a lot easier to get medical research grants. Then as I thought more about it, I realized that I would be better suited and more motivated for the research if I saw the medical application of it. And now, after shadowing (granted not much), I really enjoyed being in hospital setting. It was really interesting observing a surgery that was going to alleviates someone's back pain, but it was also a fun environment. I also know research, while really exciting when you make advances, can be somewhat monotonous on a daily basis. Having the mixture of the MD work and research work would help avoid boredom.
  10. ratherbefishing

    ratherbefishing Name says it all. 2+ Year Member

    Apr 3, 2013
    The rates of funding for MDs vs MD/PhDs vs PhDs are all very close. Please correct me if I am wrong, but I think that it is a commonly held myth that MD/PhDs do that much better than our other colleagues.

    To me, your motivation to go to medical school needs to be shored up, for your sake and for adcoms.

    Your last comment about research being boring is a bit of a red flag. How do you imagine your career? Majority clinic or majority research? If you do not love lab and don't see yourself doing >50% research, then I don't think this is a good route for you. You could easily do research with straight MD and save yourself many years of life. The "free school" argument also doesn't hold up to a true cost benefit analysis. You have to really like doing this above all else.

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