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sluox

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my boss said today that the PhD in MDPhD is not as rigorous as a regular PhD.
And he is only an MD.

My other boss said something similar a while ago.

I have no feelings left to be angry.
 

StIGMA

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I have heard that in some instances (some!) that an MD/PhD student may be released slightly before a PhD student because there is an understanding that the MD/PhD will still learn the necessary professional skills during residency/fellowship/postdoc, so letting them go a year early to continue on the long train may be beneficial.

I am sure that this is largely a misconception, but I am sorry your PI feels that way.
 

QofQuimica

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my boss said today that the PhD in MDPhD is not as rigorous as a regular PhD.
And he is only an MD.

My other boss said something similar a while ago.

I have no feelings left to be angry.
Time to toughen up that thin skin, dude. If you get this bent out of shape about every ignorant comment you hear, you are really going to suffer a lot when you hit the wards. Even smart people say stupid things sometimes, all the more so when they pontificate on subjects they know nothing about. Just because someone says something doesn't make it true. :)
 
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Jorje286

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You still have to fulfill the requirements of any PhD program you subscribe in as far as I know, which usually include publishing 3 first author papers. In any case, who cares? I doubt staying in the lab for a couple more years will make you a much better scientist.
 

sluox

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Time to toughen up that thin skin, dude. If you get this bent out of shape about every ignorant comment you hear, you are really going to suffer a lot when you hit the wards. Even smart people say stupid things sometimes, all the more so when they pontificate on subjects they know nothing about. Just because someone says something doesn't make it true. :)

actually, funny that you mentioned this, this was exactly the thought that went on in my head. :laugh: all mental preparation for the wards i suppose
 

eighty-twenty

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my boss said today that the PhD in MDPhD is not as rigorous as a regular PhD.
And he is only an MD.

My other boss said something similar a while ago.

I have no feelings left to be angry.


I actually agree. I think the PIs usually cut MD/PhD students a little slack since they know that they have to return back to medical school and have at least 4 more years of clinical training before they can get back into research. By that time, we have to play catch up if we're staying in the same field.

But, MD/PhD students also know that there's a timeline and seem to work at a faster pace. My two friends, who knew from the get-go that they wanted to get their PhD in 3 years, wisely picked projects with defined end-points and designs that had quick turn around (i.e. involved viruses/cell cultures/rodents rather than human subjects/primates) and were in the lab constantly. I had a less strict timeline, and chose to work with human samples (which inevitably delays things). In the end, I could have done more and possibly publish in higher impact journal, but my committee was happy enough with my body of work of 3 first authors. I had a PI on my committee who was known for not graduating his students in anything less than 5 years, and he was sympathetic to my overall goals.

One thing I do recommend is have at least one MD/PhD on your committee. I specifically chose PhDs and not MDs for the other four since I wanted the critical evaluation of basic scientists for my molecular experiments and learn how to design elegant experiments. PhDs devote 100% of their time to this since they don't have clinics and services to attend.
 

gbwillner

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my boss said today that the PhD in MDPhD is not as rigorous as a regular PhD.
And he is only an MD.

My other boss said something similar a while ago.

I have no feelings left to be angry.

This topic comes up every 6 months on this site.
The truth is that it is probably true at SOME programs, and with SOME PIs and committees. Programs that typically have shorter PhD times (3 years!!) are bound to let their students get away with less- either they have more faculty that are "sympathetic" to your time-line or have policies in place to allow you to get out faster than regular grad students, whether that be letting you defend without an actual paper, facilitating "easy" projects, or blackballing "slow" PIs.

It is difficult to say how prevalent this is overall, but at my institution MD/PhDs were not given ANY institutional breaks- although having a "soft" committee and a willing PI could have the same results. Of course, this could work for any student, whether they are MD/PhDs or just PhDs.

I also want to debunk the notion of the "3 publication" rule. This is BS- I've never heard of any institution really having such a rule. Perhaps certain PIs do- if they work on translational projects/ case reports. I guarantee you that if you publish a Cell paper as a first author anywhere you can graduate. After all, it's about the story you create, not the # of papers. My institution tried to pass a rule stating that you must publish at least 1 first-author paper to graduate- and it was rejected. Not because people thought it was unreasonable to get one paper, but that faculty thought students would feel entitled to a PhD after publishing a paper- regardless of quality.
 

sluox

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This is not strictly a thread for discussion as opposed to just me whining :rolleyes:

What irks me more than anything else is that, sure, MD/PhDs may not always have a phenomenal PhD, but neither do regular PhD students. I look at the regular PhD students @ my school and their publications, and I realize that most often they get about equivalent amount accomplished with more time. And yet just because they waste more time they are some how more "real"?

On a per capita/hr time basis, I'd say MD/PhD students have more Nature/Science/Cell papers in my school. Most MD/PhD students, if simply go for a postdoc instead of a residency, would do about as well, if not better than their PhD counterparts. So what does it mean exactly that the "standards" are lower?

Of course, I shouldn't be bitter, because, at the end of the day, having an MD/PhD certainly does not disadvantage you for getting a grant/job, despite how "real" a PhD-only PhD may be. Research you did as a PhD student doesn't matter much for faculty jobs these days.

What they need to do is to just eliminate post-doc, and just assign people jobs after PhD based on PhD research quality, like they do it in econ/other social sciences. Postdocs are essentially slave labors and a complete waste. There is not enough positions of course for all these PhDs, which means they need to cut PhD enrollment. Hire technicians for scut work.

It is difficult to say how prevalent this is overall, but at my institution MD/PhDs were not given ANY institutional breaks- although having a "soft" committee and a willing PI could have the same results. Of course, this could work for any student, whether they are MD/PhDs or just PhDs.

I also want to debunk the notion of the "3 publication" rule. This is BS- I've never heard of any institution really having such a rule. Perhaps certain PIs do- if they work on translational projects/ case reports. I guarantee you that if you publish a Cell paper as a first author anywhere you can graduate. After all, it's about the story you create, not the # of papers. My institution tried to pass a rule stating that you must publish at least 1 first-author paper to graduate- and it was rejected. Not because people thought it was unreasonable to get one paper, but that faculty thought students would feel entitled to a PhD after publishing a paper- regardless of quality.
 

kapMD/PhD

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grad school - regardless of MD/PhD or just PhD - is largely what you make of it and what is expected of you. You have time restrictions, but that doesn't mean that you don't have to meet the same publication, presentation and course hour requirements. I think that you can work just as hard if not harder as MD/PhD since you do know that you have limits as PhD student. At my school we are required to put in the same number of class hours, but end up with more because of med classes, we have the same upper level course requirements, same publication requirements, but are just expected to get it all done in 3 yrs. No complaints here though, i'd rather work hard and learn a lot in a shorter time than be here for more time.
 

QofQuimica

Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting....
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One other thing to consider is that MD/PhD students probably won't be teaching during grad school. Someone feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, but I've never heard of MD/PhD students being *required* to teach, although I know some who did opt to teach to make extra money. In contrast, PhD-only students are very likely going to be spending a significant amount of time teaching and grading, particularly during the early grad school years. Teaching is a *huge* time sink. I really enjoyed it and am glad that I was forced to do it, but I'm sure the time I spent teaching added an extra semester, if not an extra year, to my PhD.
 

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One other thing to consider is that MD/PhD students probably won't be teaching during grad school. Someone feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, but I've never heard of MD/PhD students being *required* to teach, although I know some who did opt to teach to make extra money.

I can think of several programs that require their MD/PhD students to teach. Several other non-MSTPs that require it to get full funding. Also a few others where it's required by some graduate groups and not others.

At Penn for example 1 year of setting up undergrad lab is only required of the Neuroscience MD/PhD students.
 

QofQuimica

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I can think of several programs that require their MD/PhD students to teach. Several other non-MSTPs that require it to get full funding. Also a few others where it's required by some graduate groups and not others.

At Penn for example 1 year of setting up undergrad lab is only required of the Neuroscience MD/PhD students.
That's still a light load compared to many PhD-only students. Several of the grad students in my department taught 2-3 lab sections per semester for the entire 5-6 years they were in grad school. Fortunately, my PhD PI had enough dough to give me an RA, especially since I came in already having an MS and not needing much training. But not everyone gets that lucky (or chooses their lab wisely enough).
 

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There IS a major difference between the PhD you earn from a straight PhD program and a MD/PhD program:

You will have a career and job security with the latter.
 

Jorje286

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There IS a major difference between the PhD you earn from a straight PhD program and a MD/PhD program:

You will have a career and job security with the latter.

Could you please expand on that statement a little bit? Just interested in the reasons to support such a strong statement.
 

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That's still a light load compared to many PhD-only students. Several of the grad students in my department taught 2-3 lab sections per semester for the entire 5-6 years they were in grad school. Fortunately, my PhD PI had enough dough to give me an RA, especially since I came in already having an MS and not needing much training. But not everyone gets that lucky (or chooses their lab wisely enough).

At my school, certain graduate departments have a TA requirement and some don't. Generally, those that are closely allied with medicine have a light requirement (e.g. just two months total). However, if you go into a department with loose connections to the medical school, like physics or chemistry, you'd probably be obliged to do the regular TA requirement, which could be considerable.
 

mercaptovizadeh

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Could you please expand on that statement a little bit? Just interested in the reasons to support such a strong statement.

The vast majority of PhDs do not and cannot run highly productive well-funded labs. The competition is intense and there's no regulation on the production of PhDs. There's just no commitment on the part of the institution either. It more closely resembles law school than medical school. Attrition rates in law school are sizable and even greater in many graduate programs. And once you're done, there's no more "handholding." This contrasts with medicine, where attrition is very low, and almost everyone goes on to residency and practices medicine. There is tight control on medical school admissions so as not to flood the market with MDs and drive compensation down.

In a way, the extreme difficulty of medical school admissions is a blessing since it blocks underqualified applicants before they've made the financial investment and before they've become "overqualified" for other jobs.
 

eighty-twenty

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Could you please expand on that statement a little bit? Just interested in the reasons to support such a strong statement.

I think what was meant was that you can always find a job as a hospitalist, etc. and earn a salary if your research doesn't work out.

It's certainly comforting to know that I can earn $80-100/hour using my basic internal medicine knowledge if my PI's RO1 runs dry and I cannot get a K award or some other type of career developmental award.

I agree that most institutions do not require a certain number of publications to graduate (mine didn't and most of my PhD friends in residency didn't either).

@gbwillner: Please read carefully. I never said there was a 3 publication rule; only that my committee was happy with my body of work that ended up being three papers. But these days, anyone who publishes as a first author in Cell usually has more than one paper before they graduate anyway. At least that's been the case for a couple of my friends who each published at least 4 other papers along with their big one. A little different than my PI, whose PhD thesis involved cloning a gene, a project which culminated into a single Cell paper in the early 1990s.

But let's be realistic, publications get you to the next step, and I would say all committees have an unwritten "at least one" publication rule. Not having one would be a disservice to the student unless the committee members can promise the student a post-doc position.

Granted, not all projects can develop into a cogent and elegantly designed story worthy of publication; but that's where mentoring comes in. You have to multi-task and do conservative projects alongside riskier projects so that you will have something to show for it.

Anyway, what do I know. I've been away from grad school for so long and may delirious as I'm post-call from the BMT service.
 

gstrub

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There IS a major difference between the PhD you earn from a straight PhD program and a MD/PhD program:

You will have a career and job security with the latter.

What I meant here is that you could grow to hate research and decide you don't want to spend the majority of your time begging for money from various agencies to support you, and dedicate all of your time to clinical work and have a very productive career. Your success won't depend on how much $ the NIH is dishing out this year. Try that with just a PhD. The post-docs I talk to all hate their prospects for the future.
 

Jorje286

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What I meant here is that you could grow to hate research and decide you don't want to spend the majority of your time begging for money from various agencies to support you, and dedicate all of your time to clinical work and have a very productive career. Your success won't depend on how much $ the NIH is dishing out this year. Try that with just a PhD. The post-docs I talk to all hate their prospects for the future.


Yes, that's what I thought. I was thinking though if you meant that research prospects are considerably better for MD/PhDs. What I heard is that getting a research faculty position in a medical school (with some clinical duties) is much easier than research-only (or teaching) faculty position in academia.
 

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At my school it's the same way. The closer you are to traditional biomedical research (whatever THAT means), the less likely you are to have teaching requirements. The only official department under the MSTP to have teaching requirements is BME as far as I know. If you wander off to the pure biology, physics, and chemistry departments, prepare to grade papers!

-X

Quoted, ftw...

Generally, those that are closely allied with medicine have a light requirement (e.g. just two months total). However, if you go into a department with loose connections to the medical school, like physics or chemistry, you'd probably be obliged to do the regular TA requirement, which could be considerable.
 
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