MD/PHD for Psychiatry

Discussion in 'Physician Scientists' started by ZippyTWL, Nov 25, 2002.

  1. ZippyTWL

    ZippyTWL Junior Member

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    Is there a university or medical school that allows a combined MD/PHD program where the PHD is in psychology? I have been considering psychiatry but have found my options in this respect limited. Thanks for any help. :)


    --Eric
     
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  3. canadagirl

    canadagirl Senior Member

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    I had always assumed that any md/phd program will let you study in any field as long as you can make a case for it. I also am not interested in combining with a traditional field ... is this a wrong assumption??:confused:
     
  4. ZippyTWL

    ZippyTWL Junior Member

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    From what I've read, most med schools have specific PHD programs they allow you to enroll in.

    --Eric
     
  5. Neuronix

    Neuronix Total nerd
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    Actually for psychiatry you'd probably want to do a neuroscience PhD. You could study the affective/cognitive disorders, which are a very underserved group of afflictions among MD/PhDs. Some forget that these diseases are poorly understood molecular and cellular based afflictions in the brain. A Psychology PhD on the other hand is all about counseling and statistics, which I don't think would be greatly useful to a MD/PhD. If you are really into counseling and statistics, go into clinical psychology.

    PS: You're in Texas. If you ever interview at Baylor request Dr. Basinger. He's very receptive to those who wish to study psychiatric disorders in the nervous system with a MD/PhD.
     
  6. Doctor&Geek

    Doctor&Geek 25 > 5 / 15 < 8
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    Neuronix said:
    <<<<<>>>>>
    PS: You're in Texas. If you ever interview at Baylor request Dr. Basinger. He's very receptive to those who wish to study psychiatric disorders in the nervous system with a MD/PhD.
    <<<<<>>>>>

    Same thing at UT-Southwestern. Request Eric Nestler [the god of addiction research] if you're interested in that; there's tons of other neuroscience/psychiatry people there as well.

    Yours,

    Jason
     
  7. ZippyTWL

    ZippyTWL Junior Member

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    Neuroscience is nice, but not everything is easily fixed by pharmacological treatment alone. A major problem with MDs working as psychians is that they can't do the diagnostic tests a psychologist can do, and their diagnoses are often poor or lacking. Conversely, psychologists cannot diagnose medication when it is needed. I was looking for a nice way to combine both sides.

    --Eric

    ps: Thanks for the advice on Texas med schools. I have a professor teaching a course at my university now who is on the admissions board of UT Southwestern, so getting in there won't be a problem if i choose it. Any tips on UCSF?
     
  8. ZippyTWL

    ZippyTWL Junior Member

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    Should have read "MDs working as psychiatric physicians" :eek:

    --e
     
  9. AlternateSome1

    AlternateSome1 Burnt Out
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    There is actually an edit button that you can use to change the text of the message! Just thought I'd give you a heads-up for next time. :)

    ~AS1~
     
  10. Neuronix

    Neuronix Total nerd
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    A psychiatrist can certainly do the tests that a psychologist can do... They just usually don't for some reason. However, that's one of those things they really drill into you clinical psychology... testing. For example, if you step into the counseling office at my school, they will give you some huge test (I forget which one) to see what they can possibly diagnose you as. There's all kinds of paper tests. I think they're bunk myself, but hey, I think most clinical psychology is bunk, so I guess I'm a bit biased. One of the large problems in psychiatry is that there is a great need for psychiatrists in many places. Because of this, they have way too many patients, and the physicians have to make very rushed decisions about diagnosis and sort out the medications as they go along.

    In any case, I think a MD, then a residency in psychiatry is still right for you. It sounds like you want to be a practicing physician, and that's fine. There's plenty of ways to get the experience in the testing of psychology if you want it, such as a little research in psychology during your med school years. Surely a PhD is not needed. Now if you want to explore some disease or group of diseases during your PhD, then we can talk. Perhaps someone will disagree with me, but such is the debate about what a MD/PhD is for.
     
  11. canadagirl

    canadagirl Senior Member

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    I think that part of what the MD/PhD is about is widening the horizons of the future doctor. Maybe having a physician who has a PhD in psychology will allow him to bring new insights to psychiatry and see connections that others didn't see before. Just because it doesn't make sense for all psychiatrists to be psychologists as well doesn't mean that it isn't valuable for the field to have one or two people with that different perspective.
     
  12. ZippyTWL

    ZippyTWL Junior Member

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    I have checked with both the AMA and the APA. Psychologists are the only ones who can do testing; psychiatrists are the only ones who can do medicine.
    My main interests in psychiatry are clinical and forensic, specifically mood disorders in adolescents, post-adolescents and adults. Psychiatrists have little that allows them accurate diagnosis in this area. It usually amounts to a questionaire for patient, parent, and teacher, whereas psychologists can do different tests and inventories.
    Yes, I know many biologists consider the inventories to be 'bunk,' but the research I've seen reports psychologists having a 2-to-1 advantage over psychiatrists in diagnostic accuracy. (This is probably why the two often work in tandem; the office setting will have both psychiatrists and psychologists.)
    Anyway, I've been looking/e-mailing for almost two months now, and I cannot find a school that allows the MD/PHD combination I want. If anyone knows of one or of a possible one, please let me know. (And thanks for all the help/replies you guys/gals have given so far.)

    --e
     
  13. oldmedgirl

    oldmedgirl Junior Member

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    Check out the following schools for combined MD/PhD programs in psychology: UC Davis, UC Irvine (in Social Ecology Dept), UCLA, Yale, Emory, Medical College of Georiga (offered jointly with Georgia State Univ), Univ of Illinois Urbana Champaign, U Missouri Columbia, U Rochester, SUNY Buffalo, Wright State. A few places mention that they are open to allowing the MD/PhD students pursue a PhD in the arts and sciences department such as: Johns Hopkins, Wayne State, UMDNJ Robert Wood (through Rutgers Univ). There are also programs in neuroscience or programs that seem to be a combination of psychology and neuroscience such as the one at Dartmouth. Another option is to pursue a PhD in another biomedical science field but pursue research in a lab based in Psychiatry. There may be other medical schools that will allow you to pursue the MD/PhD in psych, you just need to contact the schools you are interested in and find out. Hope this helps.
     
  14. Neuronix

    Neuronix Total nerd
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    My understanding of the goal of the MD/PhD program is to produce physician-scientists. At most schools, the science emphasized is basic science, with the goal of producing academic physicians, especially research-oriented ones with funded labs. Simply put, I don't see the science in the op's plan, just a physician with a different perspective and additional clinical training with the ultimate goal of clinical practice and clinical research, probably in epidemiology. Perhaps I'm way off base here, and I don't feel it's my place to discourage the op. Indeed, I understand what he wants to do and I encourage him to that end. With my understanding of the op's plan and the goals of the MSTP, I believe a MD program with some extra training in clinical psychology somewhere along the line is the best course of action.

    That being said, Zippy, be ready to answer the "Why MD/PhD" question and be ready to answer "Well why do you need a PhD for that?" because I forsee that difficult interviewers will really get on you and that many program directors will not agree with your reasons for needing a PhD.

    Ah well, I feel bad for discouraging and I know my position on this may fail to be a popular one. Just trying to help the best I know how...
     
  15. ZippyTWL

    ZippyTWL Junior Member

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    Three of my former professors and one current one have all chaired med school admission committees. All have actually been supportive. People heavily rooted in neuroscience have offered the only objections. While I like neuroscience, it crosses into the area of psychiatry (and what I want to do) less than a third of the time-- usually as a preconsultation or routine check-up suggested by the psychiatrist/psychologist.

    Taking a few classes in clinical psychology, as suggested, really would do nothing for me. I'll get several of the sort during my residency in psychiatry. What I need is the license to give the inventories and tests they give (several of which, by the way, have higher accuracy ratings than mammograms).

    I don't know what sort of classwork you've done or material you've researched in the area of psychology, but the days of Freud are gone. (So are the days of Skinner, which is why we still have psychiatry instead of all neuroscience.) Experiments in psychology get results comparable to those in biology and many medical experiments and are just as much science.

    What I want to do is find ways of diagnosing people in a manner more accurate than 32% (the range psychiatrists hit) and hopefully even 64% (where psychologists hit). I suppose I could just keep adding new medication onto misdiagnosed patients in hopes that it would affect some receptor I'd read about somewhere in my neuroscience classes, but really, there's no science in that. And that's largely what many in the field of psychiatry do right now-- misdiagnose and then overmedicate. Neither of which are good science; they result from a hypothesis which failed but was kept anyway and lack of outside review.

    --e
     
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  17. Neuronix

    Neuronix Total nerd
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    I was a dual Biology + Psychology major in my undergraduate studies, and beyond the required Psychology classes, I took two classes that deal directly with clinical psychology (Psychopathology and Therapeutic Methods). My mother is a schizophrenic who also suffers from mood disorders, and these diseases have hospitalized her for many years of my life. My father has been hospitalized twice for depression, and indeed met my step-mother as an inpatient.

    In any case, maybe I'm wrong on this one. Good luck!
     
  18. Tarallk

    Tarallk New Member

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    Hi there-
    I actually have pretty much the same interests. I'm debating between the PhD in Neuroscience or Psychology. I would like to work with patients and not be just a "pill pusher", which psychiatrists are often made into. On the other hand, I am interested in the biological side of psychiatric disorders, such as schitzophrenia and bipolar. One of the things that I worry about with the psych phd is that it seems like there aren't that many programs and i'm not sure how funded they are. My original goal was to get the phd in psych, but I think that a neuroscience phd could work as long as I got to do my research in psychiatric disorders. I want to eventually open a residential treatment center for eating and mood disorders, and I want to be involved in research on the biological side of things because I think that a lot of information can still be gained there. And I agree with Zippy about the testing and licensing issues. I guess I'm still confused on exactly what direction is best. :confused:

    Adding my 2 cents,
    Tara
     
  19. Vader

    Vader Dark Lord of the Sith
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    While I would be among the first to encourage people to pursue their interests, finding MSTP programs that support non-traditional Ph.D.s is a difficult task. Neuronix brings up several important factors to consider. It wouldn't be fair to tell you that you won't face resistance, because it wouldn't be true. There are some programs that do support and even encourage students to pursue PhDs in non-basic science fields. However, this seems to be the exception rather than the rule. Therefore, if you are interested, you need to find out from specific programs about their take on the whole issue.

    That all being said, we definitely need an increased number of physician-scientists in non-basic research fields. There is a lot of translational work that needs to be done, and this requires physicians from a multitude of perspectives.

    One thing you should keep in mind is that your choice of PhD work does not necessarily dictate which medical specialty you will pursue. For example, you could do research in the basic biology of psychiatric disorders, but then become a practicing neurologist (or a cardiothoracic surgeon for that matter). The goal of the graduate school part of an MD/PhD program is to give you formal training in how to think about scientific problems, ask questions, and develop ways of tackling them. Therefore, it really doesn't matter what area of research you pursue for the PhD, as long as you acquire the know-how of being an investigator.

    In addition, you should realize that what you get your PhD in does not necessarily reflect the area of research in which you were involved. What you get your PhD reflects more the departmental structure of the institution which you are attending. For example, at UCSF, you could do the Neuroscience, Tetrad, Biomedical Sciences, or other graduate programs and still work in a given lab, with the caveat that the lab must be affiliated with your program. Many labs here do, in fact, have multiple affiliations, and therefore you are free to choose the graduate program based on other factors. For instance, there are many faculty in the psychiatry department doing research on things like schizophrenia, BAD, and other disorders, who are affiliated with the Neuroscience graduate program.

    Hope this helps. :D
     
  20. ItNeverEnds

    ItNeverEnds Senior Member

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    I'm surprised no one mentioned fellowships. Many psychiatrists choose to pursue fellowships (1-3 years in length) which often require research in a specialized area of psychiatry -- forensic, child & adolescent, etc. While a PhD in psychology may offer a "different" perspective on psychiatric disorders, it requires a time commitment that may not be necessary given your career interests.

    That being said, I think Dartmouth has an MD/PhD program in Psychological and Brain Sciences/Cognitive Neuroscience.
     
  21. Peter Parker

    Peter Parker Senior Member

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    Along the same lines, if you're interested in the M.D./Ph.D. program at UTMB-Galveston, try to get in touch with Dr. Kathryn Cunningham, who does very interesting behavioral psychology work with drug addiction. She takes a large number of MD/PhDs in her lab, and it's one of the most enjoyable research environments I've ever seen. She works closely with Dr. Eric Nestler at Southwestern, also.

    I've heard Dr. John Byrne at UT-Houston is another good option.

    P. Parker





     
  22. CaNEM

    CaNEM Senior Member

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    Jack Byrne is mostly a neurophysiologist, running a Kandelian Aplysia lab interested in memory and plasticity. His behavioral stuff is limited.
     
  23. gaki

    gaki needs help

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    is it possible/just-unusual-but-doable/foolish/impossible to get a PhD in psychology or neuro at the same time as doing a residency in psychiatry?

    thought i would just bump up this old thread too..
     
  24. StewieGriffin

    StewieGriffin Junior Member

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    bump...
    sorry to resurface the old post but...
    i've been thinkin bout this too. interested in cognitive/behavioral neurology and psychiatry. want to do research in the biological aspects of emotions, perception, etc.; or diseases like schizophrenia, epilepsy, autism, etc...but don't know if it's worth getting the PhD, or even if there are many MD/Phd programs out there that offer this kind of stuff for the PhD degree......anyone?
     
  25. MacGyver

    MacGyver Banned
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    Not true. New Mexico and Louisiana allow psychologists to script drugs, and there are bills in dozens of other states that will go forward soon giving the same power.

    Of course, it doesnt surprise me at all that the hypocrite psychologists dont want psychiatrists to use their testing methods. I'm sure if the psychiatrists started using those methods the psychologists would be up at arms screaming about how psychiatrists arent trained properly. :rolleyes:
     
  26. gaki

    gaki needs help

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    hello..
    because you specified "biological aspects," "schizophrenia, epilepsy, autism" maybe you want to look into MD/Phd programs that let you do PhD in neuorology or neuroscience or neuropsychology or something; maybe not psychology.. and I *have* seen PhDs offered in this kind of thing in MD/PhD programs more often than with MD/PhD for psychology. But my interest in getting a PhD would be because I would want to learn more about and exploring the psycho-social aspects, so I haven't looked too too much into neuro* things.

    Something else you might want to look into is biopsychology or biological psychology. I don't know too much about this either (much less if you can get it in an MD/PhD), but maybe it is relevant to you. here is one thread i started about biological psychology. I think it is kind of a small specialization, since no one has much to say about it. http://forums.studentdoctor.net/showthread.php?t=144485
     
  27. Neuronix

    Neuronix Total nerd
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    There's a ton of this kind of research going on under the basic science heading of neuroscience at all sorts of places. Now whether or not you want to get a PhD is up to you...
     

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