MD/PhD

Discussion in 'Medical Students - MD' started by MoeDaMan, Jul 8, 2001.

  1. MoeDaMan

    MoeDaMan Senior Member

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    I have a question....

    I was wondering, kind of sounds stupid. I've done research for 3 yrs, extensive background. But keep on going back and forth on it. I guess I have to see which schools I get into the program (because it makes a big deal for me).

    However, I kind of have family issues which is adding to the problem. If some of my family stuff gets resolved I might have the time to dedicate 7 years to get both degrees. If it doesnt I might not, and unfortunately my family stuff won't get resolved around next year during acceptances....

    Now this is my question, lets say I get hopefully into an MD/PhD program, and then learn that I might not be able to devote 7 years of my life. Maybe even move out of the country after 4 years! Now can I at that point, say no to the joint program and get into just the MD program, or is it a done deal? :( help!
     
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  3. Popoy

    Popoy SDN Super Moderator

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    I'm not an expert on this, but I was under the impression that you're basically going to be applying to two different profession.... ie. MD and PhD.... If this is right, then I'm sure you can drop one over the other....

    May I suggest you calling a school that does offer an MD/PhD and find out from the horse's mouth, sortaspeak.... or just apply to just the MD route and then pursue a MS or PhD in between or after MD.... I worked with a med student that took a leave of absence from medical school after his first year to pursue a Master's despite the fact that the medical school didn't offer the dual degree.... Then again, he'd had the connections to research and the department he was interested in.... Hope you get an answer....
     
  4. MoeDaMan

    MoeDaMan Senior Member

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    Hi Popoy,

    Thanks for your reply, but I am not going to apply to a seperate Phd and a seperate MD school!

    I was thinking of more in the line of getting into a joint program, and then maybe realizing that I can't commit 7 years! Therefore, decline the joint program and just take the MD :D

    of course, I guess what you said is right and talk to them directly... :( But I guess I have to do annyonymously, cuz if they find out that I am not 100% sure then they might not offer the joint program to me. Who knows, I might end up doing a joint....at this point don't know...thnx bro :D
     
  5. Christiangirl

    Christiangirl Banned
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    Hello Moe. Sorry about your predicament. I just thought that I would share something. I know that at Mayo they had several students drop out two years ago from the MD/PhD program at the end of the second year. I am sure you know this, but the first two years are spent in med school and then you satisfy the PhD requirements before completing the final 18 months of med school. Anyway, I say this to say since the students went for the 1st two years before dropping out, they had benefitted EXTREMELY financially from this choice. They had received free tuition and a 17,000 stipend each of those two years. Therefore, I know Mayo is considering starting a program whereby if you drop out you will be required to pay the tuition and stipend back to them that you had received. Just some food for thought. You may want to check and see if your other schools have this program unless you are willing to risk having to pay back 80K for only two years of education. Also, the other issue is obviously you would have to figure out that you were going to quit shortly after the 2nd year or obviously, you would have to stay 5+ years anyway just to complete the MD degree anyway. Best wishes.

     
  6. Vader

    Vader Dark Lord of the Sith
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    My sympathy goes out to you and I hope your personal circumstances clear up soon. That being said, I think you need to take more control over your life and make a decision for yourself. How far do you want to go in your education? Are you willing to give up 7 years of your life to do the MD/PhD? You can't expect a school to admit you with the knowledge that you "might have the time" while they are investing several hundred thousand dollars into you to produce a physician-scientist. You need to show more committment than that. Otherwise, they will see this during the application process, especially in interviews. Even if you could successfully hide it, think of what you would be doing... taking the place of another applicant who would be truly committed to doing both the MD and PhD. Going in for a "free MD" is something admissions committees truly try to screen out for, and thus they are highly attuned to spotting signs of lack of committment. Your goals and intentions need to be crystal clear.

    If you think there may be personal circumstances which will impede your education, it might be a good idea to defer a year, if that extra time will help clear things up. Many programs will let you defer, but some will not. You'll have to check with individual programs. Alternatively, you could wait until next year to apply to medical school. Or you could apply to medical school now and then the MD/PhD program later. There are obviously costs and benefits to each option, but at least this gives you some flexibility.

    At any rate, if I were you, I'd decide what my goals are very soon. Talk to current students, professors, mentors, and your family to help you decide what is right for you. But ultimately it will be your decision. :) Good luck...
     
  7. ned

    ned Member

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    [/QB][/QUOTE]

    The vast majority of MD/PhD programs don't make you "pay back" any money if you drop out after the first two years of med school. It is the policy of Medical Scientist Training Programs (the NIH-supported MD/PhD programs) -- to NOT make you pay anything if you quit.

    So, to dispell the myths:

    MSTP = 2 years free. Period.

    MD/PhD = 2 years free. Probably.

    Having said this, you probably shouldn't go into the application process with these thoughts in mind, etc. etc. etc...
     
  8. Mad Scientist

    Mad Scientist Member

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    I might can add something to this. I'm an MD/PhD student who is about to return to medical school after 7 years of graduate work (actually 6 years + 1 year of a postdoctoral fellowship). I took one year of medical school in '93-'94 and am about to return as a second year student. I will not graduate from medical school until I am 32 years old.

    Our program advertises that it is possible to finish the program (both degrees) in six years. Of the 80+ students that have been in the program during the time I've been here, I know of exactly one that actually accomplished that. Maybe 20% finish in seven years; the average is about 8 1/2 years. I am going to take 10 years, and there are several who have taken longer. You just cannot predict how your research is going to go during your graduate work.

    I would highly recommend that you not join an MD/PhD program unless you are strongly driven towards research, and are aware of how having a combined degree can help you with your research goals. The lifestyle of a successful physician-scientist is, if anything, more demanding than that of most physicians. In my own case, I joined the program simply for the challenge of it, and have regretted it countless times. This is reflected in very high dropout rates from MD/PhD programs. I almost quit at least a dozen times. This is not an appropriate career choice for any but the most driven young men and women.
     
  9. MoeDaMan

    MoeDaMan Senior Member

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    WOW What thanks for everyone's personal experiences and stories. You don't know how much light that shed on the matter!

    I REALLY WANT TO THANK EVERYONE, FROM CHRISTIAN GIRL TO MAD SCIENTIST....

    Just as a clarification, my original question was if I get into the md/phd program. Before I even started my first year, for example the time between acceptance (like May) to start of school (Like August), could I during that interim, say I had a change of mind and at that point, will they still allow me to pursue solely an MD only?

    It sounds really stupid, unfortunately, my family stuff won't clear up until next june. So that means, If I am really determined about a PHd, then I should apply for the program as of now. If I have bad news around June, then I might declare to the school that I can't commit 81/2 years. My dedication to research will be the same.

    Couple of things:

    1) Personally, I have no inclination to drop from a program once I am enrolled. I personaly couldn't live with myself. In addition, I know pple at UCLA who did that, and they are sort placed on an Extreme Negative light. Because, in order to resign you need a letter from the Dean himself. You know what that means? You will be looked at NEGATIVELY when matching comes around.

    2) I have done research extensively for 3 years, couple of awards and papers. However, what has really made me think about it seriously is that I realized there is SO MUCH politics and beuracracy at play.

    I don't think none of my friends who are applying for MD/PHd are aware of it at my school. Questions like what is the atmosphere of the lab, how much funding to they get, are the pple in the lab competive within themselves. I worked in 5 labs, and in two of them because I loved them so much stayed till my senior year. The other 3 right from the start, I knew I couldn't tolerate the working conditions, (anal pple, bad lighting, worked like a slave). That is why I am so hesistant about applying to an MD/phd in a school that I have never been to?! Because there are so MANY factors at play that dont even have to do with research!!! LIke funding of the lab!! that is so important, and I rarely see anybody talking about it....
    :eek:

    I have seriously thinking about applying to MD/Phd, but a response like the one MAD scientist gave me was what I was afraid of. I really appreciate mad scientist for your honestly, that was SUCH An EYE Opener. I am sure however, that after all your hardwork, you will now reek the benefits of your hard labor. I am going to talk to two or three pple in my school who are in the program, and see how they feel. I honestly, think it makes a HUGE difference where you get ur MD/Phd. I have seen some at UCLA enjoy happy lives, and some pple in John Hopkins to the point of bleeding to death....Of course experiences vary and it could in realiby be the reverse....

    BUT thanks for your input guys, it was a huge eye opener to say the least. I never thought about it not finishing in "six years or seven"...8 1/2 is SO LONG...wow, U must be an extremely hardworking and perseverant person mad scientist.....I wish you continued luck and I know you will be extremely successful....but thanks for the eyeopener :eek:

    The other alternative, is get an MD and also do research, or after I get my MD then pursue a Phd if I have any energy left. But thank you guys so much! You guys have been better than any Premed ADvisor....

    God bless u all, and may prosperity always knock at your door....
     
  10. Vader

    Vader Dark Lord of the Sith
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    While it is unfortunate that Mad Scientist's experience seems fairly negative, I think for the most part the situation described is atypical. Rarely do students take 10 years to graduate from these programs. The NIH funded MSTPs are fairly highly regulated and schools are encouraged to reduce the time to graduation. The average for most programs is 7-8 years. The source of the variability is the duration of the Ph.D. years. One reason these programs choose highly motivated individuals is that they want people who have clear goals in mind and who will thus push to graduate faster.

    One of the most important aspects to MD/PhD education is choosing a good faculty research mentor who understands that an MD/PhD student is not the same as a PhD-only student. There are many faculty that have the same expectations of both types of students. Be wary of those who say this explicity, as this might be a sign that they love to keep students around for many years. However, you should always investigate by asking lab members and others about a particular PI's repuation for graduating MD/PhD students. Some are notorious for keeping their students for a ridiculous number of years.

    MoeDaMan--
    If you are interested in a career in research, then you'll have to deal with politics and bureaucracy at some level. That is part of the game. Scientists are human beings too, subject to the same failings as lay people. :D I think the thing to realize is that you have to do what interests YOU and not worry so much about others. Medicine and biomedical research are very competitive fields and you'll surely be dealing with many type-A personalities, in whichever career you end up.

    Again, you have to decide what YOU want to do. If personal circumstances arise which prevent you from continuing in the program, the program administrators should understand and will work with you. You'd be surprised at the flexibility afforded students as highly respected as MD/PhDs. At UCLA, students tend to be fairly happy, as the program is very flexible and allows pretty good integration of the two degrees. Many of the students I met at Johns Hopkins seemed very intense and stressed out. You'll find that there is a different culture and environment at each school. It's kind of like trying on suits. You'll have to see what fits YOU the best. For me, I really liked UCSF and found the other students amazing. It is a very professional, yet relaxed place, which definitely fits my personality. The MSTP here has great program administrators and people will really make an effort to help you out. Certainly there is bureaucracy (it's a state school after all). But you learn to deal with it. Think of the song "I will survive..." :D

    Good luck and hope to see you interviewing at UCSF. :D
     
  11. Christiangirl

    Christiangirl Banned
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    Ned, not to be rude, but before you dispel any myths make sure that you have the correct information. Mayo's program IS NOT a MSTP program. In other words, they are not federally funded, but receive their funds privately. Hence they can do whatever they like as far as setting policies go. That is why I said for the OP to check as far as his school was concerned, but I KNOW that Mayo is considering this policy and is well within its rights to do so. Hope that clears that up for you.

     
  12. Mad Scientist

    Mad Scientist Member

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    Vader--Yes, my experience has been somewhat more negative than many, but is not unusual either. I would guess that 30-40% of students (at my school, anyway) have an experience like mine (too long in grad school) or worse (drop out).

    There is one important difference between my school and the situation you mention. Here it is a point of pride that MD/PhD's do a "full" PhD--they are expected to accomplish every bit as much as straight PhD students. The argument is that if you step into a canned project, all ready to go and guaranteed to work, you don't have the full dissertation training. In science you have to learn to take the bull by the horns and figure out some way to turn out results that are interesting and relevant.

    MoeDaMan--I said what I did not to completely discourage you from MD/PhD, but rather to help you look at the situation realistically. If you want to do this program, you need to be committed and passionately interested in research. It sounds as if you might fulfill the second requirement, you just need to decide about the first.

    You might consider doing what my boss did, back before MD/PhD as an organized program was so developed. He earned his MD, then went to graduate school in a basic science field. While in grad school he worked out a deal to work part-time in a hospital. After finishing that, he did a residency in internal medicine. The disadvantage to this is you don't have the MD/PhD program paying for your MD years.

    And concerning politics and bureaucracy, Vader is right. Academic departments are some of the most politically charged places on the planet. You have many highly intelligent people thrown together for periods of many years, competing for resources and at the same time working together toward similar goals. If you do follow this path, I'd say try to change your attitude towards politics. Politics is life, and learning to excel at it is much more productive than resenting it.

    Ned & ChristianGirl--Here's the situation, as I understand it. There are basically three "levels" of MD/PhD:

    MSTP--All of med school (3 years) paid for by the government.
    Private funding--Some or all of med school paid for by private grants.
    No funding--None of medical school paid for.

    In any given MD/PhD program, there might (or might not) be a mix of these three types. Some places have only MSTP. Baylor has all three types, although here the private funding is identical (from the student's perspective) to MSTP funding. Furthermore, anyone who is not funded during their first few years of med school is usually picked up after finishing their PhD. Finally, some places have no organized funding for their MD/PhD's, but you are welcome to do one if you'd like. :)

    Finally, to avoid confusion, the graduate school part of your training should always be paid for (tuition + stipend), just as for every other graduate student in biomedical science, either by your department or your major advisor. MSTP and other funding only covers med school years.
     
  13. ned

    ned Member

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    [/QB][/QUOTE]

    Nowhere did I imply or state that the Mayo has an MSTP. I think you're confused a bit confused, Christiangirl.

    To reiterate:

    MD/PhD with no MSTP = 2 years free *in many cases* even if you quit after the first two years.

    MSTP = MD/PhD = 2 years free. Period.

    You can find the list of Medical Scientist Training Programs at:
    http://www.nigms.nih.gov/funding/mstp.html

    Check it out!

    As far as MD/PhD programs go, there are indeed several different funding arrangements that schools may make with students pursuing the dual degree, from full funding to no funding at all. MOST schools that have an established MD/PhD program offer funding schemes similar to that of the NIH-supported MSTP's. It's obvious that you should know what you're getting yourself into before you sign up for the long haul.
    :rolleyes:

    I'm currently a second-year MSTP and couldn't be happier. While I didn't come into the program with the intention of quitting during the graduate phase, I definitely realize that thesis projects, principal investigators, and graduate student life can be 'sticky' things. If you have the best intentions to finish the dual degree when you enter the program, I wouldn't worry too much about whether you "definitely" can or will. Lots of things can happen over 7 or 8 years!

    :)
     
  14. Christiangirl

    Christiangirl Banned
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    No, ned I am not confused. Trust me, I am fully cognizant of what is being said. :) What you said implied that it was VERY unlikely that a school would make you pay back if you opted out of the MD/PhD program. Then, you went on to say you were dispeling myths (implying I was the creator of such untruths). My response was merely to attest to the truthfulness of my original response specifically regarding the policies of Mayo. Also to say your MD/PhD "two years free. Probably" may not hold true for Mayo. Your school may be different which is why I told the OP to check the info out for each school. I am merely stating that you may be correct about MSTP programs, but as Mayo is not one, my information IS accurate. Research it!! I cannot attest to the programs at other schools as your original response implied.

    Mad Scientist: Just a sidenote.... Mayo's program is different from the department nor advisor is responsible for funding the student. This makes it easier for the student of course to be welcomed into any lab. You can find this info on the web site at www.mayo.edu.


     
  15. Linie

    Linie Senior Member

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    Hi all, for the original poster, I considered doing an MD/PhD, because I had a lot of research experience, and was/am interested in an academic career. I ended up deciding not to do it for a number of reasons:

    1. I had already taken 3 yrs off.
    2. I'm a woman and would like to have kids someday. I would be finishing my program at about age 34, and ideally would be ready to work hard on a super-duper career, but it would coincide with a good biological time for starting a family.
    3. I realized that some of the excellent basic science researchers I had worked with were MDs who had done research fellowships. A PhD is not necessary for research!
    4. I realized that even though I want to be involved in research, I really first and foremost want to be a physician. Research for me was the icing on the cake, but not the cake itself. Furthermore, I was starting to question my devotion to basic science -- what I really love about research is asking a question and trying to answer it, not necessarily the benchwork itself. I liked the benchwork, but that wasn't the aspect of it that kept me interested. Fortunately, there are many other kinds of research -- clinical trials, public health, etc, and those kinds of research are very amenable to getting involved as a straight-up MD, or an MD with an MPH or a research fellowship.

    During med school, I started a very exciting clinical project, which is just finishing up now, and I plan on getting involved in a clinical trial during residency. I have several publications (one first-author, 4 other-author), and this first-author one I'm about to submit.

    I admire MD/PhDs, as well as plain PhDs. I think it's important to decide if it's the best thing for you. Also, never say never -- even about dropping out of a program! If you figure out something is not right for you, even if you already have started it, it's best to get out!

    Good luck, take care.
     
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  17. Vader

    Vader Dark Lord of the Sith
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    I agree with Linie completely that one can do research with an MD. There are many examples of successful PI's who did not go through graduate training. I think the choice of degrees depends on one's interests, life circumstances, and other factors. However, medical school does not teach students to be scientists. It is often focused more on learning the volumes of medical information necessary to do well on the boards and later on as a practicing physician.

    Graduate training, in contrast, teaches students to be scientists. The philosophy is much different than medical school. In PhD work, students are training to think about and explore complex problems in-depth, using the scientific method. The expectation of a graduate student is first and foremost to learn to be a scientist. You learn how to design experiments, carry out large-scale projects, analyze the results and communicate your work through publication, conferences, etc. You learn how to read and dissect the scientific literature. Moreover, you learn how a lab works. One does not generally get these things during medical education.

    Additionally, spending 1-2 years as a postdoc doing basic research is not equivalent to completing a PhD. The expectations of graduate students and postdocs are totally different. MDs who do postdoctoral fellowships, often have trouble at first getting adjusted. The learning curve is much steeper than for someone who already has extensive laboratory experience from PhD work.

    Thus, I think while it is not necessary to get both the MD and PhD degrees to do research, the value of graduate school education often goes unrecognized. The MD/PhD will prepare a student well for a career in both medicine and biomedical research. However, one has to be very committed, as it is a long and demanding process, definitely not for everyone.

     
  18. ned

    ned Member

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    [/QB][/QUOTE]

    I in NO WAY meant to engender an adversarial relationship with you, Christiangirl. All I'm trying to say is that the "word-of-mouth" you heard at the Mayo regarding paying back the first two years after quitting an MD/PhD program is the EXCEPTION RATHER THAN THE RULE. I honestly have no doubt that you indeed heard what you say you heard! :)

    I interviewed at 15+ MD/PhD and MSTP schools, and I have met people that have interviewed at virtually ALL institutions that have a coherent MD/PhD path. I have only rarely heard of schools that make their students pay back their first two years after opting out of the program. Such an arrangement would necessitate both parties to sign a legal document stating the terms of the payback. Very few institutions make their students sign such contracts, since it would be disasterous for recruiting purposes. If the Mayo is tossing around the idea of starting such a program, they would be in the minority. The financial payback they would receive from the few students that drop out of their program is relatively small compared to the loss of recruiting leverage they would incur.

    For these very reasons, the NIH-supported MSTPs in the United States do not allow institutions to institute payback rules. This is a prerequisite for receiving MSTP grant funding.

    If the Mayo is considering initiating a payback plan, it would be a bad move. Student morale would plummet, recruiting would suffer, and they would be virtually excluding themselves from receiving external funding from the NIH.
     
  19. Vader

    Vader Dark Lord of the Sith
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    I forgot to mention in my long-winded message that having a PhD (in addition to the MD) could also help you in a research career in several ways. First, it may aid you in obtaining a position in an academic department. Second, it may help in securing funding from NIH and other sources (PhDs and MD/PhDs are comparable in securing funding for basic research, whereas MDs have more difficulty). Third, it will you help you know how to go about answering the medically-related basic biological questions. When problems arise during the course of your research, you'll be better prepared to solve them. Anyway, that's just one guy's opinion... :D
     
  20. Christiangirl

    Christiangirl Banned
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    Thanks ned. I guess I read into what you wrote too much. I was thinking you were saying I was full of well, you know. :) I aplogize. Adversaries we are not as far as I am concerned. :)

    I have another question for you MD/PhDers. After doing your 7-8 years, do most of you plan on practicing medicine or are more of you committed to doing research? Will you do post docs and residencies? If so, how much time does it take for you to finish both? Is it still a 2 year post-doc and a regular residency term? How does that work? Do most of you do Internal med or what? Just something I have always wondered. Best wishes. You all are awesome and I am glad there are people like you who are that motivated and dedicated!! :)


     
  21. Vader

    Vader Dark Lord of the Sith
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    Hi Christiangirl,
    It is hard to predict what will happen 7-8 years in advance, but I'm planning on doing a residency (perhaps neurology) and then a 1-2 year postdoctoral fellowship. If you want to have any sort of clinical practice, doing a residency is necessary. However, there are some MD/PhDs who devote their careers solely to research. The number of years of residency will vary, depending on specialty (neurology is 4 years, for example). I've heard that some academic centers allow you to combine residency and postdoctoral lab work. It tends to be virtually all clinical during your internship year (PGY-1), and then progresses to more research as you move up in post-graduate years during residency. Many MD/PhDs go into IM and then subspecialize. Some residencies have a separate application process from IM (i.e. neurology, psychiatry, OB-GYN, emergency medicine, etc). Some of these residencies will include rotations in IM (i.e. 1 year for neurology). You'll have to look into specifics about specialities in which you're interested. As an MD/PhD student you will have a looooong time to decide. ;) At any rate, hope this helps. :D
     
  22. Linie

    Linie Senior Member

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    Hi all, it's so nice to finally read a thread that starts and STAYS rational, without people starting to insult each other!

    First, to Vader, I agree that getting a PhD is certainly more focussed training on approaching and carrying out rsch, as well as publishing and presenting your work, and appyling for funding. However, I think that different med schools may be more or less strictly clinically focussed than others, and while doing a little rsch in med school or even doing a year or two of rsch as a post-doc fellow, is absolutely no substitute for a PhD, I think there can be a lot of exposure to the scientific method in med school. [Although it is totally possible that I'm confusing what I learned during my years in various labs with what I was exposed to in med school!]

    Second, research opportunities during residency are very variable! At some programs, such as the general surgery programs here at Hopkins, there is a 2 year rsch requirement, that you fulfill between 3rd and 4th year of residency. Sometimes people go to other institutions, depending on the project they're interested in. Internal medicine, in contrast, allows you to use some elective time (probably not more than a month or two) for a rsch project, so you're pretty much limited to a clinical project. Now fellowship, which is when you subspecialize (like after internal medicine residency (3yrs), you would then specialize in cardiology (5yrs), endocrinology (2yrs), etc), usually involve at least a year of rsch. Endocrine is one year of clinical, one year of rsch. It can vary at different institutions, but that is generally the way it is.

    One option, if you know you want to be primarily a rsch cardiologist (or any other subspecialty) is to "short-track" which in medicine means you do 2 yrs of residency instead of 3, and then go straight into fellowship.

    As an MD, or as an MD/PhD, there are many many levels at which you can get involved in rsch. You don't have to do a residency at all if you think you're never going to practice medicine, and just want to do rsch (or anything else for that matter). With an MD/PhD, you have more options, but the trade-off is the amount of time spent working on your degrees. And because it takes such a long time, it takes some certainty that both degrees are going to be useful for you.
     
  23. kutastha

    kutastha 2K Member
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    For the original poster... If you going to join an MD/PhD program, you need to dig down deep and see just how much doubt you have. It sounds like you're already uncertain, and I'm sorry the family situation is causing some trouble. I'm currently beginning my fifth year as a PhD student, and can tell you from experience - you'll be lucky to finish your PhD track in three years. I know of one MD/PhD student who was at WashU and transferred to USC in his third and last PhD year. He was given an ongoing project and was fortunate enough to be wrapping up the tail end of it, and have a large contingency of techs and undergrads to assist. Cases like this, I believe, are few and far between. I have also known individuals who have dropped out of the PhD option after two years, but they didn't have this idea in mind when they started. They weren't really looked upon in a negative light, but I doubt the NIH looks kindly upon it.

    If you're going back and forth on the research, then it doesn't sound like your heart's in it - and trust me, it has to be for you to do the 4+ years of research required for a PhD. As mentioned in the aforementioned posts, it's a much more critical way of thinking, not just going to classes, memorizing everything you see, studying for tests and getting As. It's a commitment, and it certainly is something I'm glad to have 'endured'. But you need to really make sure the academic medicine track is for you. Good luck.

    Andrew
     
  24. MoeDaMan

    MoeDaMan Senior Member

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    Wow thanks for the responses :D

    Ned and Christiangirl I am so glad that you two worked it out. It was apparent from the start that it was a simple misunderstanding.

    Christiangirl: you don't have to worry, I am not applying to Mayo's Md/Phd program. I lived in MN about 2 years. Gorgeous state, and very down to earth pple. However, I know the program is extremely difficult...

    Madscientist: No you haven't discouraged me at all. You did in fact help me look at it realistically....

    Vader: Don't worry I won't be taking any body else's "spot". I have decided to apply to only my school's MD/PhD program, since I know the faculty, the funding, the amount of publication I can produce in a given year and the amount of resources available to me....However, I honestly, feel that the MD/Phd system is very flawed. A commitment of 7 years of a person's life has absolutely nothing to do with a person's dedication to research at all .....

    I love research enormously, and have awards from my school that no other student has in my school! Since, I represented my research along with another student to the california legislature :D So I can assure you and myself, I wouldn't be in it for the "free MD" ride. :D

    My follow up is can you be a great researcher withouth pursuing a Phd? adn the answer is a RESOUNDING YES....look at
    Dr. Salk from NYU, who created the polio vaccine and stopped the epidemic...Look at Mendel who failed his college entrance examination, and became a monk...how ironic that he is the father of genetics?!

    an Md/Phd program in my view fails on a number of fronts...

    1) it is automatically assumed that a Phd will be extremely beneficial to your field of research....AGAIN so not true....as I reiterated in my post...I have done 3 years of neuroimaging resarch and two years of genetics research at my school dealing with various neuropscyhiatric disorders. In most labs as well, instead of imploying an interdisciplinary approach to these diseases by using genetics and neuroimaging to analyze the problem...pple still to this day get a PhD in neuroscience, and some a Phd in genetics.....most schools even fail to combine both fields and provide an interdisciplinary Phd such as neurogentics which very few schools!!! and it just shows how some Phd programs in some schools fail to keep up their curriculum with new discoveries, as well as new emerging fields.

    2) The program while its intents are very pure, is prolonged to an EXTENSIVE amount of time.....7 to 10 1/2 yrs....as a researcher, do you wish to spend most of your time in a lab, or taking classes....I do not at all wish to sound egotistical in any way...however, when i wworked under my graduate student advisor....I probably finished more "research work" as un undergraduate than she ever did...you know why? she was busy taking classes, filling grant applicatoins, and dealing with her "collaborators". That is the irony of the program! An undergraduate could theoretically devote more heart and soul into it....the irony was, that after 2 years, I had 6 publications, and she had 3 since I also worked for other pple in the lab...she was so occupied with senseless things....if you are an MD researcher, you are probably a collaborator with a phd person, and you let him take care of the paper work ****.... :D

    3) anybody whose devoted to reserach, plans to spend the rest of their life to the field....I wish to the same....but why should I lock myself into a 7 yr program with no prospects of a break in between? why can't I finish my med degree first, and then pursue the phd afterwords, and still be eligible for a good scholarship and funding!? I mean this Md/Phd program where ur taken out of one field and then placed in another is ridiculous...furthermore, I know some pple are going to say that if you spend 7 years getting ur medical degree and by the time you come back to reserch the world of research has changed...

    again, so not true, UCLA's medical program is without a doubt one the least strenous programs....I have so many friends in med school that have more time than me...I could use the extra time to still work in my lab, finish my medical degree, start a phd program and "still not be behind"

    Also, a response to your comment ajr, about "not having a heart into it"...again that is so not true as well...I personally, have seen some of the things that have happened to some students who were the brigthest of the brigth.....I dont think any MD/PhD student who are talented, intelligent and disclipined go into the program to quit afterwords....There shouldnt' even be a drop out rate for pple of such a high caliber!!! It doesn't make sense...I personally think that NIH will lose a substantial amount of money for employing a program that not only wastes money(because some pple quit) but also burns out some really talented, hardworking and intelligent students....I doubt any of them went for a "free ride"....Also reading mad scientists reply, it is absolutely clear what such a program is doing to a talented and intelligent student....and these cases are not at all odd....The same scholarship should be offered to everyone in an MD/Phd program...however, recipients should have the option of finsihing their MD then pursuing the phd or if they wish, go through 2 yrs of school, then the phd program and then back....WE NEED THE OPTION!!!

    On the other hand, I am sure there are other talented students who have no problem at all in finishing the program...but again, the school, the program, and the environment are different factors...a person who goes to john hopkins might say the MD/PHd program is freaking hard, and a student in an another school might have the best time of their life....so I dont think even though some pple who are going through the program can speak for other students in other schools...because the program is different from school!!!

    there is no reason why you cant go to med school, and then pursue a phd afterwards....there is no such thing as a "prime" age in doing research....

    so my mind is complete, I will only apply to my school, since I know all the factors involved and and I know I can commit to it....I know for a fact that I can dedicate 10 yrs in my school...on the other hand, schools that I have never been to....I dont know how pple can make judgements before hand, without having chosen the lab, and without even knowing the environment?

    all in all, I want to thank everyone's reply...I really appreciate it. I hope I haven't offended anyone...I think you are all truly briliant, and hardworking, and I am sure you all will be great assests to society whether or not you finish the progam.....I still think we should have the option!!!! :rolleyes:

    That way, we would have no drop outs at all!!!! :D

    peace and I hope I have not pushed any wrong buttons....
     
  25. Vader

    Vader Dark Lord of the Sith
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    MoeDaMan,

    First of all, I think you need to take a step back, catch your breath, and look at the situation. Why are you applying MD/PhD? It sounds as though you have philosophical differences with the program as it exists today (i.e. in the MSTP-style). So why even apply at UCLA?

    Here go my responses to your individual points:

    I did not mean to suggest that you will be taking anyone's "spot." The point was that you need to be fully committed to research to realistically pursue an MD/PhD. Don't want to be caught with your pants down! :D

    While that is your choice, you should know that you will be asked to what other programs you applied MD/PhD. You'll have to be prepared to explain why you chose to apply to only one.

    With all due respect, this makes no sense. The point is that an average of 3.5 of the seven years will be spent doing research. In addition, the variability in program length is due to the PhD years. If one is not dedicated, I have no clue as to how he/she can expect to finish the program.

    Congratulations on your awards. I think that can definitely help show your accomplishments in research. :D However, it does not necessarily convey your enthusiasm or motivation. More than the bells and whistles, admissions committees are looking for people who show a true passion for research.

    You're absolutely right that a PhD is not a requirement for being a great researcher. But as I and others described, it will give you the tools you'll need to be a successful one. By the way, in Mendel and even in Salk's time, there was no MD/PhD option (the MSTP was created in the latter part of the 20th century). If you were interested in medically-related research, you most often would go to medical school. :cool:

    I agree with you that the system of having separate academic departments is somewhat archaic. Much of modern basic biomedical research uses a variety of approaches to tackle a problem. Labs tend to either be technique-oriented or problem-oriented. Neuroscience happens to be a good example of a truly interdisciplinary subject (comprising anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, pathology, genetics, psychiatry, molecular & cell biology, biochemistry, etc). Moreover, the department in which you get your PhD is much less important than the lab you work in and type of research that you do. So many labs use cross-disciplinary approaches nowadays. In the graduate portion of your training, some programs will allow you to take various elective courses in subjects of interest to you. That way, you can tailor your education to your needs.

    First of all, that is a very, very, very rare situation that an undergraduate would have more publications than a graduate student. Neuroimaging tends to enable researchers to publish more frequently because data can be generated fairly rapidly. As an undergraduate, I did an extensive amount of research, but always focused mostly on my classes (I also participated in lots of extra-curricular activities). I think that's great you've been so successful thus far. But realize that having 6 publications is very atypical. You'll definitely stand out on that front. As a graduate student, there are various requirements besides your thesis project (i.e. graduate courses, journal clubs, laboratory rotations, qualifying exam, etc). You are kind of comparing apples and oranges here. A graduate student and MD/PhD student are quite different, as I've noted before. The MD/PhD program (at least the modernized ones) tends to streamline the graduate training in several ways. First, you usually do some rotations, take some graduate courses, and attend journal clubs before you start the graduate years. How much you decide to tackle during your first two medical years is largely up to you. It is possible to take the qualifying exam and start your thesis work during your first year of graduate training (MD/PhD year 3). This expedites the whole process--basically the earlier you start your thesis, the faster you'll get through the program. It is reasonable to do an excellent thesis project in 2 years after taking the qualifying exam. If you have already done work toward the thesis, this will further reduce the time to graduation. In this day and age, there really should be no excuse for people staying 10 years in an MD/PhD program. This VERY rarely happens, and it is usually because the PI wants the student to tack on new experiments, the student changes labs midway through, or other major problems.

    Well, there are several problems with doing the MD and PhD separately. First, in general, you are not funded during the MD years (there ARE some scholarships available though, i.e. Howard Hughes). Second, doing it this way takes longer because you have all the grad school requirements (that I mentioned above) to do that you could have taken care of during the med years if you were in a combined degree program. Additionally, some MD/PhD programs waive some of the grad school requirements (or med school requirements). I think it would not be uncommon to take 9, 10, 11 years to do the MD and PhD separately. :eek: Compare that to the average of 7-8 years for MSTPs!

    First of all, no one said it would be a walk in the park. Thus, the programs look for students who are extremely motivated. Additionally, there is no evidence to support your claim that the NIH supports a failed, money-losing program. The mission of the MSTP is to train highly successful physician-scientists. So far, the evidence (i.e. publication track records, academic positions, funding, etc) has shown rather convincingly that MD/PhDs are very successful (http://www.nigms.nih.gov/news/reports/mstpstudy/mstp-print.html).

    You should ask students at various MD/PhD programs what they think. Students in these programs went through the application process and had to decide between schools. They have talked with other students, interviewed and toured the schools, came back for revisits, etc. This makes them at least somewhat qualified to voice their opinions on different programs. But again, if you want to get into specifics at different programs, it is best to inquire at the source. :D
     
  26. Mad Scientist

    Mad Scientist Member

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    There are lots of options for an MD/PhD. Some do residency, some do postdocs, some do both. If you want to do clinical work at all, you have to have a residency. Postdoctoral work might (or might not) be important for research, depending on what field you are going into and whether you are able to do research during residency.

    Many of the big research medical schools now have residencies designed for MD/PhD's and other MD's who are intensely interested in research. These programs take perhaps a year longer than a typical residency in that specialty, but allow 1-2 years full time research. They also give you exposure to top scientists in the field and show that you are very serious about research. I doubt one would need additional postdoctoral work after finishing one of those programs. We have one at Baylor, although I can't remember the name and therefore can't find info on the web.

    In my case, I've lost interested in doing full-time basic science research for a career, although I still might be interested in pursuing clinical research or doing some kind of liaison work between my field (structural biology) and medicine. I am also very interested in teaching undergraduate or medical school. When I finished my undergraduate work, I was struck by how many people from my school were going into health professions, and how useful it would be if the school had praticing clinicians on faculty. That has been my primary inspiration to finish my PhD, since (I think) it will be easier to get a teaching position than with an MD alone, and easier to fit in to that atmosphere once I'm there.

    MoeDaMan: I'm not going to give you an extensive reply, as Vader has already given you excellent advice and I'd just be repeating most of it. I do disagree with him a little in that I am suspicious of allowing MD/PhD's an accelerated course through graduate school. The point of the PhD is to teach you how to do research, which in the real world requires you to tackle and solve a problem no matter what obstacles are thrown in your way. You sort of have to have that moment when you stare into the abyss (of no results or no explanation for results) and then somehow get yourself out of it through perseverance, hard work, and more and more experiments. I sometimes worry even about those PhD's who get lucky, everything goes perfectly, and they get out in 3-4 years. Sooner or later they are going to hit a snag in their research and are going to need those skills to get themselves out.

    Finally, I have to say that my biggest complaint about MD/PhD (and graduate school in general) is that the requirements for entry (excelling in basic science classes as an undergraduate) are NOT a good predictor of aptitude for research. I think that more use ought to be made of personality tests and so forth, since there is a very specific mindset required to excel in research, and some people (like me) aren't made that way. (If you know about the Meyers-Briggs personality inventory, IMHO all research scientists should be NT's. I am an INFP.)
     
  27. Vader

    Vader Dark Lord of the Sith
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    I think there was a resident (MD/PhD) in the lab I worked in as an undergraduate who was in one of these programs you mentioned. I'm sure she'll get a faculty position somewhere after she finishes.

    I do agree about the value of overcoming obstacles during scientific training, as this is most definitely part of any scientific career. I think we must differentiate between compressing the requirements and cutting into the quality of the PhD. At UCSF, for example, which has had notoriously long MD/PhD training, the MSTP is beginning to emphasize reducing the time to graduation. The places where the time can be shortened, without demeaning the PhD are as follows:

    1) One can substitute the graduate course for the medical course of an equivalent subject.
    2) Students can take graduate courses during their first two medical years.
    3) Only two laboratory rotations are required, instead of three, allowing earlier selection of a thesis lab.
    4) Journal clubs/molecular grand rounds are taken starting the med years.
    5) Students are encouraged to select a lab and take the qualifying exam by the end of their first graduate year (MSTP year 3).
    6) Faculty are made aware of the funding requirements for MSTPs and are sent letters from the MSTP council.

    With these steps, I believe schools have been becoming more successful in shortening the overall time to graduation, without damaging the quality of the thesis work.

    I think PhDs have a tendency to be suspicious of MD/PhDs anyway in terms of research, because MD/PhDs split themselves between two different paths. The goal of the program is to integrate medicine and science, and as I've said (and given a website for: http://www.nigms.nih.gov/news/reports/mstpstudy/mstp-print.html). Check it out--it is the NIH's review of the Medical Scientist Training Program. You can clearly see from the data that MSTPs have been at least as successful as PhDs in faculty appointments, securing research funding, publishing, etc., all hallmarks of a successful scientific career.


    I agree that some of the requirements (i.e. GPA, MCAT score) do not necessarily reflect one's aptitude for research. However, as you know, there are other components to an application, including one's prior research experience and how well one can communicate scientifically. One of the most important components is your letters of recommendation from people who can assess your potential as a scientist (i.e. your PI, advisor, etc).

    By the way, I think the interviews somewhat serve as a personality test. :D I had one interview with a psychiatrist that I swear was trying to psychoanalyze me on the spot. :eek: I've had some pretty intense interviews in which they really grilled me on my research. They sometimes want to see your critical thinking skills in action to determine how suited you are for research. Most interviews were fairly laid back though, consisting of mostly a disscussion of my research, the faculty's research, and then questions about the school.

    I think the thing to remember is that a scientist is a work in progress, not something that exists from the beginning. I agree that certain people have a better aptitude for a research career. That is what they are trying to distinguish through the admissions process. I was very, very impressed with the other applicants I met during interviews. What an amazing, talented group of individuals! I feel very confident that the MD/PhD programs are selecting high-quality applicants that have the potential for great careers in medicine and biomedical research. :D

    BTW, do you have a link for the Meyers-Briggs personality test? I'm curious... ;)
     
  28. Mad Scientist

    Mad Scientist Member

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    Well, I can't argue with any of those steps, and that's great if they will lessen the time spent in the program. (Although I did 1,2,5, & 6 and still spent 6 years in grad school.) My argument is with those programs (evidently not UCSF, from what you say) that have projects "prepared" for MD/PhD's to come into and get through quickly, without any real planning or risk on their part. I *know* that this does happen at some schools.

    True, but in some cases this still doesn't work. I guess what I'm trying to say is that a life of research is intense and requires a lot of dedication, and it is almost impossible to tell if it is the life for you without trying it. It is even more difficult for an admissions committee to make that decision. I think that personality inventories would help, but they are hardly the solution to the problem. I don't know what the solution is--but I hope that there is a better way of finding scientists other than allowing people to "waste" many years of their lives and perhaps face terrible failure.

    Yes, but my point is that there are many amazing, talented individuals who still aren't right for a career in research, probably including some of those in the group that you met. In fact, I think that to some extent amazing, talented people are exactly the wrong group to be in research--they are going to have to give up almost all of those extracurricular activities for many years if they want to become successful researchers. What research really needs is boring, tenacious people who are just smart enough to do the work, but not smart enough to get interested in anything else.

    OK, that was cynical and uncalled for and I take it back. But that statement was just an exaggeration of something that is true--you must be willing to put almost everything aside except your research if you are to be successful. I had a great number of interests going into graduate school--my family and friends, reading and discussing Great Books, exercise (weightlifting and bike riding), writing fiction, church involvement, plant and fish aquaria, houseplants, reading, computer games, music, etc. I had to systematically give up all of them except family and faith (both of which suffered from lack of attention) during my thesis work. I'm not going to accept that for another twenty years just for the offhand chance of real success in research.

    Well, I don't think the whole thing is available online anymore, but you can get to one version through keirsey.com or advisorteam.com. Unfortunately now it just gives you your general personality group (NF, NT, SP, or SJ) rather than the whole thing. However, you can buy a book that has the whole test and explaination of the types (_Please Understand Me_, by David Keirsey) on Amazon for about $10.
     
  29. Vader

    Vader Dark Lord of the Sith
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    Mad Scientist,
    Here are my replies:

    Life is full of risks and choosing a particular course of education (i.e. graduation school, medical school, both, etc) has its advantages and disadvantages. I'm sorry that for you research didn't work out and you became quite bitter and jaded about it. It is a hard lesson to learn after spending so many years on something. But your experience is not true for everyone. I've had a really good experience in research thus far (1 year in high school, 4 years in undergrad). I've been given the opportunity to pursue independent projects, some of which have panned out into publications, others which haven't (they are all recent submissions--I didn't have any pubs while applying MD/PhD). At the very least, I was in various nuturing environments that allowed my research interests to grow. There were times when I thought I would quit, but I'm glad now that I didn't.

    Now that I'm in a new lab at UCSF, the learning curve is very steep (I'm doing things I've never done before) and I realize that it is important to figure out in what environment I'll fit into best. The graduate programs here are insistent on a PhD being of the highest quality. That means I'll have to be on the ball and ready for the unexpected. However, I do realize that it is possible that despite my best efforts, my experience could still turn out for the worse due to unforseen circumstances. I think one of the nice things about MD/PhD is that one can fall back on the clinical side of things if research doesn't work out.


    I agree completely that it is unreasonable for you to have to give up all the things you enjoy doing. I think a career in research does mean that you have to give up certain things. But I would be wary of the idea that people have to give up "everything" in order to be a successful scientist. That is a very old-fashioned idea, which is, to be frank, quite unhealthy. People need a balance in life between work and play... in fact that's why admissions committees look for students who are successful in both the academic and social spheres. They want people who can handle the work and be successful, yet who also have personal lives. Balance is the key.

    At any rate, I don't think it is wise to encourage those with great potential NOT to go into a research career. Please don't put a dark cloud over research because of your own experiences. Let people make up their own minds, choose their own career paths, and then we'll see who ends up making the metamorphosis into a scientist. :D
     
  30. jot

    jot

    vader, i have some questions regarding the tetrad and pibs program that i assume you are part of in the MSTP. i am going to be a junior and am positive at this point that i will be applying solely to mstps. i've read your posts for a long time and i can't be more excited about pursuing such a program. my current PI was a post-doc under marc tessier-levine and a testamount to the great program there. i'm particularly interested in ucsf's program and wondered if there was anything in particular that appealed to them. is there anyway i can contact you with other questions?
     
  31. Vader

    Vader Dark Lord of the Sith
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    Unfortunately, we're losing MTL to Stanford. :( But there are still many, many great researchers here. To better answer your questions, it would help to know more about your own interests. What is your research background? What about UCSF appeals to you?

    There are basically two graduate programs here at UCSF: the older, more traditional PIBS and the newer Biomedical Sciences (BMS) program. The Tetrad program is part of PIBS and comprises Biochem, Cell Bio, Genetics and Development. I'll be doing the neuroscience graduate program, which is a separate entity under the PIBS umbrella. Each program has its own set of requirements. You can check them out for yourself by browsing the appropriate web sites:
    BMS: http://www.ucsf.edu/biomed/
    PIBS: http://www.ucsf.edu/pibs/

    I'd be happy to answer any questions you have. You can either post them here for everyone to see or send me a private message. At any rate, good luck in applying! :D
     
  32. MoeDaMan

    MoeDaMan Senior Member

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    Hi Everyone?! :D

    Remember me? I am the original guy who started all these philosophical questions? hope no one forgot about me ;)

    Vader, I will respond to your comments when I get through with this AMCAS mess :D

    please feel free to have these philosophical discussions.....sittin on the side and reading them.... :p
     
  33. Mad Scientist

    Mad Scientist Member

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    Well, I'm not so sure about that. Virtually all of my friends, in many different fields (mostly professionals), have faced a time of bitter disappointment and disillusionment a few years out of college. I guess I'm no different. What I'm trying to do here is pass on what I've learned from this experience, so that others can learn from it as well. I don't know if it is really possible (or desirable) to avoid this post-college cynicism, but I do think it is advantageous to understand that it is normal and to do what one can to avoid being defeated by it.

    This is all true in theory, and it is of course exactly what any decent recruiter (including PI's who want you in their lab) will tell you. But it is not quite what I've experienced. Let me give you an example. My mentor gave me a handout that he got from one of his MD/PhD PI friends describing the "rules of success" for science. Here is an excerpt: "Successful people, regardless of their field of success, work 14-18 hours per day, 7 days per week." Obviously that leaves no time for anything else in one's life except taking care of basic needs. Another of his friends wrote a similar list of rules, and suggested working 60-80 hours/week for all of graduate school, postdoc, and at least 10 years beyond that. That is somewhat more liberal, but still requires one to give up most outside activities. Both of these scientists have been very successful and have risen quickly in their field. Most of the highly successful scientists I've known had similar attitudes towards their work. I've also known many scientists who had more balanced lives--and were correspondingly less successful as scientists.

    Now, everything I've said until now could be said of virtually any challenging professional field. But here is where research is different. A lack of success in research leads to a lack of funding and other kinds of resources, leading to a further degradation of the quality of research. A researcher, particularly in the highly competitive biomedical fields, cannot usually opt for a "low-key" career with reasonable pay, reasonable hours, and respectable resources for research. Researchers who do not stay ahead of the pack quickly find themselves losing funding, meaning either they are out of a job (at a soft-money institution) or they must turn to teaching (at a hard-money institution). Now if you *want* a teaching career (as I would like), then this isn't a problem--but for many scientists, classroom activity is far less interesting than their research.

    (Let me add a side note: All of this is assuming one wants a traditional academic career. If you are willing to go into industry, then your scientific freedom will be much less, but your pay and working hours will be much, much better.)

    I'm not trying to put a dark cloud over anyone; I just want people to be aware of the reality of science. It's a tough job, but it has great rewards for those people who are cut out for it.

    Here's the best advice I ever got about research (from that second list of rules), and an excellent summary of what I am trying to say: "If you're not *consumed* by interest in your research project, pick another project. If you're not consumed by interest in *some* project, pick another career." If you are the type of person who can get completely absorbed in your field, to where the kind of hours I mentioned (60-80/week) are not a burden, then you are a born researcher (and probably an NT on the Myers-Briggs, IMO). If not, save yourself the heartache and find a job to which you can be that dedicated. (I'm hoping for medicine or teaching, or maybe both.) If that fails, get a decent 40-hour/week job that is fairly effortless, and find your fulfillment in your spare time.
     
  34. jot

    jot

    vader,, i sent you a private message. thanks.
     
  35. Vader

    Vader Dark Lord of the Sith
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    I sent you an e-mail (hotmail account), but don't know if you got it. Let me know if I need to post a private message. :D
     
  36. Vader

    Vader Dark Lord of the Sith
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    MadScientist,
    I definitely know what you mean about having to spend a great deal of time to get results in the lab. I have had many a 12+ hour day, running experiments, analyzing data, reading papers, and writing. The output of research often seems to be exponentially related to the time put in. It's always important to keep a healthy balance though, and for sanity's sake do something fun once in a while. I think we can agree that research is not for everyone--it seems to be a realm for particularly anal-retentive folks (like me) who have a true passion for discovery. :D
     
  37. MoeDaMan

    MoeDaMan Senior Member

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    ehem Vader :D

    What year are u currently in your MD/PhD program? are you in ur 1st, or 6th or what year? :confused:

    thanks :D
     
  38. Vader

    Vader Dark Lord of the Sith
    Moderator Emeritus

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    I just went through the application process and will be starting my first year this fall. Hence the unbridled enthusiasm. :D Hopefully I won't lose too much of it by the time I get to where MadScientist is in his career. ;)
     
  39. MoeDaMan

    MoeDaMan Senior Member

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    ehem no wonder your so optimistic....

    is your name ***** by any chance? :D

    u go to ***** and got into ****** MD/PhD? well I wish you luck at ******. I am sure you will have the time of your life...you sound like a very focused person....good luck ;)
     
  40. Winged Scapula

    Winged Scapula Cougariffic!
    Staff Member Administrator Physician Faculty Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved

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    NB: This message has been edited by me (by request from the user in question) as it reveals personal information about an SDN User who wishes to remain anonymous.

    In advisement to all SDN Users, please maintain the confidentiality and privacy of all users, including those with whom you may be personally acquainted here, and refrain from posting information which may identify them. Thank you in advance. :D
     

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