Is the 7-8 year commitment too much for anyone?

Discussion in 'Physician Scientists' started by Street Philosopher, Apr 22, 2002.

  1. Street Philosopher

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    Here is my situation:

    I love neuroscience. I find the entire subject utterly fascinating. I would love to do research in neuroscience as a straight PhD, but I've been working on getting an MD and being a doctor for so long. Besides, if I had to choose I'd probably pick being a doctor because I'm a hedonist and I want to see immediate results with my patients. :D

    Anyway, considering my love of both neuroscience and medicine I've thought about MD/PhD off and on for a while. In an ideal situation I'd love to do both, but here's the rub... the time commitment seems way too much for me at the moment.

    I'd like some input on current MSTP or MD/PhD folks about the length of commitment. Is it a non-factor? If so, why? While I don't mind school, the thought of committing to 8 more years of it at this point is, to tell you the truth, frightening. Insights welcome!
     
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  3. brandonite

    Moderator Emeritus

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    Well, it's never really bothered me. I mean, when you think about it, those extra three or four years don't mean a lot over the course of an entire career.

    And, while 7 to 8 years may seem like a lot to think about, you will be doing a lot of different things over the course of time! The first couple years, you'll be doing med classwork. And then, off to do your PhD, and I like research, so that doesn't really count as work. :D And, then, finally, you're into the clinics.

    I think that just the unbelievable range of options it opens up to you makes it more than worthwhile. You can do pure clinical work, and have the added background of a PhD. Or you can do pure research, and have a great understanding of how that effects patients. Or you can try to do the 'triple threat' - clinical, research, and teaching. That's what I would like to do.

    So, the time doesn't bother me. :D But it's different for everybody...
     
  4. none

    none 1K Member

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    Of course it bothers me, but I try to think of it as a career in and of itself, not a degree program. That puts a different spin on time in general.
     
  5. Street Philosopher

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    none,
    yeah that makes a lot of sense if you think about it that way. I always did think of it only as "earning the degree," but I see your view now.

    Also, are any of your MSTPers thinking about doing surgery residencies?
     
  6. Neuronix

    Neuronix Total nerd
    Administrator Physician PhD Faculty SDN Advisor

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    brandonite's reasons for becoming a MD/PhD are so similar to mine I wasn't going to post about them :) 3 - 4 years spent on a PhD is a good investment in your time. Not only are you getting valuble training in a research, if you're into that sort of thing, you will most likely only be learning in the lab for less than a year, and you will be helping to progress the knowledge in whatever lab you join for longer than that. I like learning, and I like knowing, and I have no qualms about being a lifetime student. All doctors are lifetime students, MD/PhDs moreso usually.

    I know it's kind of young to think of an overriding life objective. But, I'm not planning on ever having children (and no I'm not going to change my mind), and the accumulation of vast sums of money isn't going to help me much whenever it is that I die. While I'm here I'd like to do the one thing that the ex-governor of Delaware (Carper) said at a speech I was forced to attend in grade school -- "Serve Others". Those who serve others faithfully have fulfilling lives. I think there's so many diseases that are now within the grasp of effective treatment and cure, that I'd like to be there when it happens, and maybe even fix and apply things myself.

    All that being said I would like to take a neurosurgical residency. My dream, and I don't know if this is going to sound feasible, or even if it is feasible, is to work with someone developing spare parts for the nervous system (prosthetic limbs, sight restoring stuff, auditory helpers (already been done :) , spinal regenerative stuff, etc...). I'd like to actually them into things, test them out, and apply these sorts of things to human diseases.
     
  7. energy_girl

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    When I was trying to decide whether to go MD/PhD or straight MD followed by a fellowship, I really struggled over the 7-8 year thing. After all, it is a very long commitment, and there is no guarantee that you will definitely finish in 7-8 years. Now that I've gone through almost a year, though, I have a slightly different perspective. One of the best pieces of advice I've gotten from current MSTs as well as people in very long residences (i.e. surgical residencies) is that it's important to take things one day at a time, and to treat each new encounter as a potential learning experience. Yes, 7-8 years is a long time, but each day you will potentially learn something new and potentially do something that can change your life. The training process is something that should be treasured for what it is, not just as something to get over. Sure, there will be days when you *wish* you didn't have so many more years ahead of you before you get your degree, but there are more days when you can take advantage of the time you have to learn as much as you can.

    </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by Street Philosopher:
    <strong>Also, are any of your MSTPers thinking about doing surgery residencies?</strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">I like surgery very much, although I am not entirely sure how compatible being a surgeon is with basic science research. It's easy to see how being a physician-scientist can work, because you can easily do part-time clinical work and spend most of the time on research. There's no such thing as a good part-time surgeon, though, although many surgeons do clinical work and have large labs for that purpose.
     
  8. Detroit Mick

    Detroit Mick The Supinator

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    The 7-8 year commitment is a little much for me. I am just about to defend my Master's Thesis, whose results I am submitting to journals and hope to be published, and am wondering if they research experiences I have participated in over the past two years could possibly shave off a year or year-and-a-half of the 7-8 year commitment?

    Any thoughts? :confused:
     
  9. brandonite

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    Ya, Mick, that was something I wondered about as well... I think the general consensus was that it may or may not, depending on what program you enter into. I think that it might cut down on the class work requirements, but those are already usually less for MSTP's, I think.

    I think it varies from school to school and program to program.
     
  10. Original

    Original Ogori-Magongo Warrior

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    Just like none and energy_girl, I'm planning on taking things one day at a time and enjoying every moment of it. Life doesn't begin after school. Life IS school :D .
     

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