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Just discovered medical genetics exsites as a specialty?!

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habenula45

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Hey all,

I have been wrestling back and forth for years about med school. I was really considering PA school but I just stumbled on to medical genetics after taking the specialty quiz. I had no idea that existed!! I work in a lab that runs a lot of diagnostic tests based on real time PCR, I like it but it isn't too stimulating, and I miss patient interaction of when I was doing phlebotomy.

So, wondering if anyone can answer some questions.

I love the idea of being able to get involved with research as an MD vs PA, but I don't like the current climate of getting a PhD. Plus I haven't done much actual research so I don't know if I want a whole career of it. I have always been fascinated by genetics. I had been contemplating going into psych, but I have always been fascinated by genetics and pharmacology, particularly how they play into mental health. I'm a non trad, although I'm only in my mid 20s, so not super non trad. I have my bachelor's in Bio already and haven't taken the MCAT yet since I keep changing my mind.

What is the lifestyle like for a Medical Geneticist? I am huge about having to be able to have a life outside of work. I need balance, especially since I have my own underlying mental health issues.

How do residencies work? Are they hard to get into? Do you have to do an IM residency first? Step score needed?

What is the salary like? I know you can be more academic based so I assume that pays less, but ideas of both mostly clinical and the academic side?

Job prospects? Is this a stupid field to do a residency in (ie the genetics fad could putter out in 20 years and on to the next big thing)

Is it worth doing the MD route for this or would a PhD be better? I like the idea of being able to work with patients and do some research related stuff. I could do like an MD/PhD, but I don't have the research experience to get in, so this is kind of an exciting prospect for me.
 

Matthew9Thirtyfive

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Hey all,

I have been wrestling back and forth for years about med school. I was really considering PA school but I just stumbled on to medical genetics after taking the specialty quiz. I had no idea that existed!! I work in a lab that runs a lot of diagnostic tests based on real time PCR, I like it but it isn't too stimulating, and I miss patient interaction of when I was doing phlebotomy.

So, wondering if anyone can answer some questions.

I love the idea of being able to get involved with research as an MD vs PA, but I don't like the current climate of getting a PhD. Plus I haven't done much actual research so I don't know if I want a whole career of it. I have always been fascinated by genetics. I had been contemplating going into psych, but I have always been fascinated by genetics and pharmacology, particularly how they play into mental health. I'm a non trad, although I'm only in my mid 20s, so not super non trad. I have my bachelor's in Bio already and haven't taken the MCAT yet since I keep changing my mind.

What is the lifestyle like for a Medical Geneticist? I am huge about having to be able to have a life outside of work. I need balance, especially since I have my own underlying mental health issues.

How do residencies work? Are they hard to get into? Do you have to do an IM residency first? Step score needed?

What is the salary like? I know you can be more academic based so I assume that pays less, but ideas of both mostly clinical and the academic side?

Job prospects? Is this a stupid field to do a residency in (ie the genetics fad could putter out in 20 years and on to the next big thing)

Is it worth doing the MD route for this or would a PhD be better? I like the idea of being able to work with patients and do some research related stuff. I could do like an MD/PhD, but I don't have the research experience to get in, so this is kind of an exciting prospect for me.

This may not be typical, but I can tell you about my daughters' pediatrician. He was a medical geneticist in the Navy. He said he basically treated dependent children with genetic disorders. Now he primarily does pediatrics, though he still gets the occasional genetics patient. He has a boatload of pubs on genetics. Pretty interesting stuff.

ETA: For the record, he doesn't have a PhD. Just the MD.
 

chrisjh

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I can't see Medical genetics as a specialty that will "putter out". If anything, it should only end up growing. Genetic diseases aren't going anywhere anytime soon, and I'd imagine we're just gonna keep discovering more.
 
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Naruhodo

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This may not be typical, but I can tell you about my daughters' pediatrician. He was a medical geneticist in the Navy. He said he basically treated dependent children with genetic disorders. Now he primarily does pediatrics, though he still gets the occasional genetics patient. He has a boatload of pubs on genetics. Pretty interesting stuff.

ETA: For the record, he doesn't have a PhD. Just the MD.

Ha! I totally know just from this who your pediatrician is. He is awesome! I work in a clinical lab and have emailed/phoned him about results in the past. Super smart guy, and always a pleasure to interact with. I would say that he is a very special case though, and that there really aren't many docs out there like him. Great role model though and neat that your kids see him.

Edit: Different physician, similar story. :)
 
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Matthew9Thirtyfive

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Ha! I totally know just from this who your pediatrician is. He is awesome! I work in a clinical lab and have emailed/phoned him about results in the past. Super smart guy, and always a pleasure to interact with. I would say that he is a very special case though, and that there really aren't many docs out there like him. Great role model though and neat that your kids see him.

I'm curious now. Can you pm me and tell me who you think he is?
 
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I thought about it briefly during our biochem block in MS1. According to the AAMC Careers in Medicine page (which you'll get access to if you matriculate to a US MD school), it's a 2 year advanced residency position (meaning your PGY-1 year is just a normal medicine intern year + 2 years of specific medical genetics = 3 years total). I am guessing people probably transfer in from IM, FM, Peds, etc. The medical geneticist we worked with most in my class was a pediatrician before completing 2 years of medical genetics training. Average Step 1= 213 = not very competitive = if you want to go into it, chances are you can!
 

longhaul3

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You can get into medical genetics via IM, peds, MFM, and reproductive endocrinology (the latter two following OB/GYN) as well. I know a few medical geneticists, all of whom did IM or peds concurrently. They see patients in clinic 1-2 days a week, do a lot of research, and travel a lot. I believe that there are fewer than 1,500 MD geneticists in the US.

There is a lot of work cut out for medical geneticists of the future. The recent past and present have focused on highly penetrant, monogenic disorders that are very rare and often very devastating. The future lies largely in working out our most common diseases, like diabetes, which have significant heritability but are complex, polygenic, and incompletely penetrant.
 
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