Oct 28, 2010
14
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Medical Student
I am really split between going for just M.D. or a combined M.D./Ph.D. program. Can someone please enumerate the advantages and disadvantages of either programs and the career paths and opportunities.

Thank you.
 
Sep 4, 2009
36
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Medical Student
I was just in that position last year, trying to decide what I wanted to. I ended up deciding to go MD only, so take my advice with a grain of salt, I'm kind of biased :)

The MD/PhD should really be called a PhD/MD because it is first and foremost dedicated to research. The goal of the MD/PhD is to become a P.I. and devote 80% of your time to research and 20% of the time to practice. So, what I asked myself is whether or not I would be happy with this balance. Of course, there are individuals that choose to reverse the split, with more time in practice or being full-time clinicians (they are considered "failures" but it's their life, who cares?). What you have to ask yourself is where do you see yourself in the future?

I also considered the time commitment: if you are female hoping to start a family, the 15 years required to obtain an MD/PhD is quite daunting. It's a little easier for males.

Getting your full tuition paid for, as well as the expenses of applying (application fees, flights, hotel stays, etc) is a definite bonus. You also get a unique perspective on research: the ultimate combination of the bedside and the bench. Translational research, which combines both of these aspects, would be a perfect field for someone with an MD/PhD, and yet someone with only an MD could also be successful (many are).

What it ultimately came down to for me was the fact that I did not enjoy research enough to want to spend 4-5 years in a lab, I do want to have a family and it will be hard enough handling medical school alone, and lastly, I realized that if I want to do research, I can do it with an MD. There is so much flexibility and I'm sure I'll change my mind. Research is a required component to the fellowship years so I figure I will make up my mind then.

It takes a very unique individual, with an internal drive, persistence, and a true love for research to successfully complete an MD/PhD. Do you have a lot of research experience? What kinds of things are going through your mind?

Oh, if you are more interested in doing research, have you looked into translational programs? They are PhD programs where you take the first two years of medical school with med students and then do your PhD. It allows you to get the "medical perspective" without the extra training and patient experience. I think they have one at Sloan Kettering...

I hope this helps! Good luck with your decision, it's a tough one!
 
OP
D
Oct 28, 2010
14
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Medical Student
Thank you for your response. Were there any websites or books that you read to gather information?
 

vc7777

Nontrad MD/MS Resident
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Jul 1, 2009
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Please check out the physician research sub forum on SDN for details on MD/PhDs...also have to plug MD/MS programs like my own...which is closer to "MD" on the spectrum.

Good luck

Not sent from my cell phone :shifty:
 
Jul 27, 2010
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I also considered the time commitment: if you are female hoping to start a family, the 15 years required to obtain an MD/PhD is quite daunting. It's a little easier for males.

...

What it ultimately came down to for me was the fact that I did not enjoy research enough to want to spend 4-5 years in a lab, I do want to have a family and it will be hard enough handling medical school alone, and lastly, I realized that if I want to do research, I can do it with an MD. There is so much flexibility and I'm sure I'll change my mind. Research is a required component to the fellowship years so I figure I will make up my mind then.
FYI, it's sad how many people think that going to school precludes a family. The student in my lab just defended... 2 kids... a 15month old and a 1st grader.

The real world ends up a little different sometimes than what you expect. :)

Btw, OP, generally the MD/PhD is assumed that you want to do research, like others have said.
 
Sep 4, 2009
36
0
Status
Medical Student
Thank you for your response. Were there any websites or books that you read to gather information?
No, no books or websites. I mostly spoke with visiting medical schools, and I did call a random MD/PhD in my field of interest (pediatrics) to talk with her about what life as an MD/PhD is like. I also spent a lot of time running over the pros and cons with my friend who was also in the same position...talking it over with someone really helps, especially if they know you.

I was in a hospital for my summer internship, and found that my PI as well as the PI's of the other students were mostly MD only. Just to re-iterate, only do the MD/PhD if you know you want to do research. I know of one MD/PhD who is doing radiology for the MD portion to make lots of money so he can still do whatever research he wants that most likely will not pay very well.

MD/PhD's often go into administration and are expected, at the very least, to start their own lab. If that's your ambition than go for it!

You can PM me if you have any other questions. Good luck!
 

musafirah

im so cereal right now
Jun 14, 2009
307
0
Status
Medical Student
spend some time hangin out with PhDs in whatever science you think you'd do a PhD in... and then decide whether you want to go through that hell plus the 4 years of medical school hell plus the hell of residency only to realize you don't like research that much (or that you don't really like people. in which case the MD degree was a waste of time). its like doubling/tripling the time you spend having no life, and prolonging the time you'll finally be earning a good living. also ask yourself, what's your ultimate career goals? go from there.


oh.. i used to be an idealist about bridging the gap between science and medicine medical scientist omg! before hitting the crossroads of "what do i really wanna do with my life" and realizing my disillusionment with science.
 
Aug 5, 2010
809
2
Status
Pre-Medical
Not to answer for the guy, but I think I might see where you're going with this and as far as I can tell, science does friggin' suck. In theory science is all about curiosity and being clever. In reality science is about accidentally spilling some buffer on your jeans and having some 135-pound pencilneck breathe fire at you in a lab meeting for it.
I was merely curious :). I've worked in a lab for four years - it's certainly not for everyone.
 

soundnin

7+ Year Member
Jul 13, 2010
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Not to answer for the guy, but I think I might see where you're going with this and as far as I can tell, science does friggin' suck. In theory science is all about curiosity and being clever. In reality science is about accidentally spilling some buffer on your jeans and having some 135-pound pencilneck breathe fire at you in a lab meeting for it.
lol wut. :laugh:
 
Aug 5, 2010
809
2
Status
Pre-Medical
To put this in perspective, it's two quarters since I finished that one year research project. I got eight units of credit for it. Yet, unlike the last eight units of upper division classes I took, I'm still tearing my now-prematurely-graying hair out over how to approach the dozen final drafts of my research paper.

This isn't even getting published, but every line of this entire freaking paper has half a dozen tiny nitpick corrections I have to make. When I say that "preliminary results show that (protein) is required for optimal (condition)," I get a little mark saying, "Under what conditions?"

...Under the conditions that you HAVE THE FREAKIN' PROTEIN. Knock down expression of that protein and (condition) is suboptimal. If there's something else you want to know about it, GO ASK THE FRIGGIN' POSTDOC because I DIDN'T RUN THOSE PRELIMINARIES. If you want THAT MUCH FRIGGIN' DETAIL then you should have had the postdoc co-write this glorified wad of kleenex with me. It's not like this is even getting published anyway, so what the heck does it even matter? Just give me my friggin' units and let me leave already.

Jesus.

A whole career of that? Nah, I'm good. Enjoying my youth under the crushing burden of student loans is still better to me than sacrificing my youth and being harried by some jackhole until I'm 30 just to get a free ride.
It take a different mindset. I live that stuff. Precision is probably the most important thing in science. A fundamental tenet of science is that results must be reproducible and for that you need to be extremely explicit and detail oriented.

It's not for everyone and its good that you found that out. However, I will say that its different at grad school level where you have more input and control.

Me, I can't imagine not doing science.
 
Aug 5, 2010
809
2
Status
Pre-Medical
Well Mr. Human, certain professions (and even specialties within medicine) tend to attract certain personality types.

I know you're a precious unique snowflake, and I can't generalize, but you generally need patience (a personality characteristic) to run ten million PCRs in a row.

It's not universal, of course and plenty of exceptions abound....
 

hiyaman

7+ Year Member
Feb 5, 2010
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Well Mr. Human, certain professions (and even specialties within medicine) tend to attract certain personality types.

I know you're a precious unique snowflake, and I can't generalize, but you generally need patience (a personality characteristic) to run ten million PCRs in a row.

It's not universal, of course and plenty of exceptions abound....
I know what you mean, I hate re-running experiments. And I hate not getting the results I want. lol.