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gmcsierra

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a big factor in my final career decision is lifestyle. i know exactly where i want to live and it is not in california, maryland, washington, or north carolina. is it possible to be a medical scientist in a smaller midwestern town and have your own lab? is it possible to move in with a hospital and do research there? are your hours as a medical scientist more conducive to a family life than as a clinical physician?

Thanks
 

Neuronix

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Most of the answers to these questions are up to you. It is possible to do research at hospitals that have research labs and are not at the major medical centers, however this may limit your career choices and prominence in academic medicine. Still, there are major research insitutions in out of the way areas that could foster a scientific career (in the midwest... Mayo for example).

For hours as a medical scientist, this again is up to you. It is a common misconception that MD/PhD restricts you from having a family. However, like all things, this will require balance and sacrifice. Still, I would argue that a medical scientist would have the same amount of time as a clinician for family in their career depending on the choices that they make (same goes for the clinician of course).

What sort of research do you want to do? I worry that you're into some sort of family practice or epidemiology that MD/PhD programs are not designed for.

Good luck!
 

KirsteenB

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Hi there neuronix,

I'm interested: why do you feel that MD/PhD programs are not designed for Epidemiology? What about disciplines such as Health Services Outcomes or Health Economics? I'm interested in hearing more of your perspective.

Cheers,
Kirsteen
 

Neuronix

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Originally posted by KirsteenB
I'm interested: why do you feel that MD/PhD programs are not designed for Epidemiology? What about disciplines such as Health Services Outcomes or Health Economics? I'm interested in hearing more of your perspective.

I'm sorry Kirsteen, but this isn't just my feeling. MD/PhD programs were created for basic science research and very rarely is there deviation from that. You can certainly do a non-integrated, or at least non-funded, program that involves a non-basic science PhD, but fully-funded MD/PhD programs want to fund researchers.

For more info: see the mission statement at the NIH website here http://www.nigms.nih.gov/training/mstp.html. It explicitly states that it is for biomedical research with the goal of producing academic physicians or basic science researchers. There's been more written on this topic as well. I can dig more up if you'd like. Are you applying for MD/PhD now? If so, if you tell them you are interested in epidemiology you will face stiff criticism and I'm afraid you will not get accepted.
 

Vader

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To answer the OP's questions,
Your post was a little vague as to your career goals and where exactly you want to end up. The bottom line is really where the resources are available. Physician-scientists tend to be a highly specialized group of individuals and require institutional support to garner a patient base and to furnish research laboratory facilities. Depending on where you are interested in living, these resources may or may not be available.

Moreover, there must be positions available to fill a specific need. If in a small town, it may be difficult to find adequate job opportunities in your field. The same is usually not true of major academic centers.

Biomedical research nowadays requires a certain level of collaboration and travel. Most PIs attend meetings, both clinical and scientific, and therefore you can expect to be away from home at least a few weeks per year.

Although Neuronix is right on about your choices largely affecting how much family time you will have as a physician-scientist, it is pretty safe to say that if you plan on splitting your time between clinical practice and basic research, you will probably be at least as busy, if not much busier, than the vast majority of clinicians. Thus, I would argue that a career as a physician-scientist requires a higher degree of multitasking than one as a clinician.

While lifestyle is certainly an important consideration in career choice, I would say that most people in academics and academic medicine make sacrifices in terms of amount of family time. That is not to say that one can't have a family and be an excellent spouse/parent/role model, etc, but you should just be aware of the issue of time demands when considering your options.
 

Vader

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Originally posted by Neuronix
I'm sorry Kirsteen, but this isn't just my feeling. MD/PhD programs were created for basic science research and very rarely is there deviation from that. You can certainly do a non-integrated, or at least non-funded, program that involves a non-basic science PhD, but fully-funded MD/PhD programs want to fund researchers.

For more info: see the mission statement at the NIH website here http://www.nigms.nih.gov/training/mstp.html. It explicitly states that it is for biomedical research with the goal of producing academic physicians or basic science researchers. There's been more written on this topic as well. I can dig more up if you'd like. Are you applying for MD/PhD now? If so, if you tell them you are interested in epidemiology you will face stiff criticism and I'm afraid you will not get accepted.

I understand and partially agree with what you are saying about MD/PhD programs, but in recent times the MSTP has become more flexible with options for the PhD. There is interest among administrators in not only increasingly the number of basic biomedical researchers, but also the numbers of physicians who conduct other types of research as well.

On the NIH website, it states:
"MSTP participants may choose from a wide range of research training programs in the biological, chemical, or physical sciences. Other disciplines in which MSTP participants can pursue graduate study include the computer sciences, social and behavioral sciences, economics, epidemiology, public health, bioengineering, biostatistics, and bioethics."

I agree, however, that certain programs unfortunately discourage applicants from pursuing PhDs in fields other than the biomedical sciences. Thus, it is imperative that applicants be aware of this issue and find out the PhD options offered in advance.
 

wgu

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Originally posted by gmcsierra
a smaller midwestern town


You're thinking Ann Arbor then if you don't mind snow
 

Neuronix

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Out of curiousity Vader, is anyone at UCSF doing a clinical science or, more specifically, a epidemiology PhD in the MD/PhD program? Penn has some off the wall stuff, like econ PhDs with Wharton or Anthroplogy PhDs, but nothing that is in a clinical medical department that I am aware of.

I honestly cannot think of a fully-funded MD/PhD program where I have seen an epidemiology PhD person. Please correct me with specific fully-funded programs if they exist. I'm curious to know.
 

Ms. Dawson DO

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I have a friend at UMDNJ-Robert wood johnson getting her MD/ PhD in public health/epidemiology and she gets the same funding as the other MD/phDers doing basic science research. I think given the times, the interest in public health has certainly peaked. Of course this is not a NIH MSTP program....but certainly there are programs out there if someone is willing to search...
 

Neuronix

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You're right. I checked their website. They say:

"Most candidates pursue their PhD training in a biomedical science discipline offered jointly by Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and the Graduate School of Rutgers University, including Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Biomedical Engineering, Cell & Developmental Biology, Cellular & Molecular Pharmacology, Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, Physiology & Neurobiology, and Toxicology. By arrangement, PhD studies can also be performed in Public Health at the School of Public Health, and in other graduate programs at Rutgers University."
http://rwjms.umdnj.edu/education/education19_mdphd.htm

Interesting. Still the exception to the rule, but perhaps it is more possible than I previously thought.
 

Ms. Dawson DO

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right..i definitely don't think its the norm and usually folks choosing the 'alternate' md/phd have to have a compelling application..and pretty well thought out plans for research.
 

Vader

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Originally posted by Neuronix
Out of curiousity Vader, is anyone at UCSF doing a clinical science or, more specifically, a epidemiology PhD in the MD/PhD program? Penn has some off the wall stuff, like econ PhDs with Wharton or Anthroplogy PhDs, but nothing that is in a clinical medical department that I am aware of.

I honestly cannot think of a fully-funded MD/PhD program where I have seen an epidemiology PhD person. Please correct me with specific fully-funded programs if they exist. I'm curious to know.

Yes, definitely much more the exception than the rule.

UCSF allows its MSTP students to do a PhD in medical anthropology. That's about the only non-biological area. Of course, UCSF is a fairly focused biomedical sciences campus, so it kind of makes sense.

We have the UC Berkeley-UCSF Joint Medical Program for students interested in getting a masters in another field.

Also, there is the UCSF/UC Berkeley MD/MPH program, which allows study in public health and epidemiology.

However, as far as the PhD, at UCSF there is no formal program in epidemiology.
 

KirsteenB

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Hi there neuronix,

Thanks for your input. Yes, I am applying to a number of select MD/PhD programs, with a view to completing a PhD in clinical research, e.g., health outcomes (clin. epi.) or health economics.

Regarding funding, to be truthful, I have not looked closely at whether certain programs are funded, given that I will not be able to receive MSTP funding, and am planning on paying for the program from my own coffers. However, if UNC-CH and Harvard count as fully funded programs, then there is at least one person in each MD/PhD program who is pursuing an epi-type PhD degree. No, these types of fields do not seem to be as numerous a choice as basic medical fields, but I do know plenty of academic physicians who are trained and conduct this type of research in large, city medical centres. Arguably, they may be the kind of physician who, given their type of research (generally a lot more flexible than having to adhere to a strict schedule to tend your mice or cultures), can better manage a healthy, thriving career as a clinician scientist.

Cheers,
Kirsteen
 
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Thewonderer

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From my feelings being around mud/phud's and the administrators, they do highly encourage basic science research in general. Just look at all the fellowships out there available for mudphud's when they graduate. Most still center on basic sciences. Many med schools are also pretty clear that if USMLE steps 1 and 2 are not required for graduation, they could careless a future basic researcher takes those exams or not.
 

pathdr2b

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Originally posted by Neuronix
What sort of research do you want to do? I worry that you're into some sort of family practice or epidemiology that MD/PhD programs are not designed for.

My dear Neuronix, here we go again.:rolleyes:

With all due respect and as a pre MD/PhD person that seriously considered cancer epidemiology, as moderator it may be a good idea to seriously consider not making your posts come off as so biased towards MSTP MD/PhD and/or strictly basic science PhD as the ONLY/BEST way to go. As we've "debated" before in this forum, there are many. many ways to get the MD/PhD and many career choices out there. Why can't we ALL fully support ALL PhD concentrations since no one PhD is "better" than another?

To KirsteenB, I did my graduate work at UNC-CH and can tell you from personal expereince that you'll want to be VERY careful in selecting Epidemiology there. Off hand, if you can' t work with Dr. Millikan (sp ?), you may be better off choosing another area to get the PhD in. Just my opinion........
 

KirsteenB

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Hi pathdr2b,

Thanks for your insight re: UNC-CH. I'll be heading down there next month to meet some of the folks in the department. I'm with you on the fact that supervision is key.

Cheers,
Kirsteen
 

Neuronix

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and as I, Vader, and others have stated. It's not my opinion. It's the opinion of program directors at MD/PhD programs. PhDs in clinical departments are a big exception to the rule. It happens, but with full-funding I believe it is pretty rare.

I support epidemiology PhDs. But my support doesn't matter. MSTPs want to produce basic science researchers. In part, because that's what they were designed for. Also in part because (and this comes from a couple PDs) the NIH, when they do their programatic reviews, is concerned with how many students/graduates go into basic science. There are some exceptions in some MD/PhD programs, and I've just in this thread found my first one that explicitly states support for epidemiology with funding at UMDNJ-RWJ. I also checked out UNC-CH and they also support the epidemiology MD/PhD.

I'm just warning people, that's all. I don't want anyone to have a false sense of security and then not get interviews or get beat up at interviews because they didn't know. If you know what you're doing, good for you.
 

atsai3

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KirsteenB:

I recall at a conference last year I met a woman at U.Wisc doing a MSTP-funded MD/PhD in epidemiology. I've forgotten her name

Wait, no, Google is wonderful. Here we go:
http://mstp.med.wisc.edu/students/st_newburn.html

Vanessa Newburn. Consider e-mailing her and asking her advice. I remember at the time I met her, I thought it odd that she was doing MSTP-funded epi.

Cheers,
-AT.

Originally posted by KirsteenB
Regarding funding, to be truthful, I have not looked closely at whether certain programs are funded, given that I will not be able to receive MSTP funding, and am planning on paying for the program from my own coffers. However, if UNC-CH and Harvard count as fully funded programs, then there is at least one person in each MD/PhD program who is pursuing an epi-type PhD degree.
 

KirsteenB

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Thanks for that, atsai3!

Cheers,
Kirsteen
 

Skinship

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There is at least one fully-funded MD-PhD program in the country that focuses on training physician-scientists in the Health Services Research (HSR) division of Epidemiology.

Because this program is uniquely focused on training Health Services Research MD/PhDs I wonder if it is appropriate to mention it in the MD-PhD forum FAQ? It is housed at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) and independent of the CWRU MSTP program, but structured the same and housed within the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics / School of Medicine.

Here are a bunch of useful links related to this program:

Description of MD-PhD Program in HSR: http://www.chrp.org/md_phd_program.htm

Brief Press Release from when program was created:
http://www.cwru.edu/pubs/cnews/1999/1-14/md-phd.htm

List of students/graduates from this program, their research interests, and their contact information :
http://www.chrp.org/md_phd_students2003.htm

Webpage of the CWRU School of Medicine: http://mediswww.cwru.edu/

Webpage of the CWRU Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics: http://epbiwww.cwru.edu/

Webpage of the Student Representatives of the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics: http://hal.epbi.cwru.edu/stures/

Webpage with Student Reps contact information (where you can get the scoop on graduate student life): http://hal.epbi.cwru.edu/stures/page3.html

Finally, a Definition of Health Services Research: http://www.academyhealth.org/connectingthedots/hsr.htm

The contact person for this program is:
Randall D. Cebul, M.D.
Program Director
Telephone: (216) 778-3901
E-mail: [email protected]

I hope that was helpful.

Good luck!
 

Habari

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while i see what neuronix is trying to get at - programs are much more flexible than they would like you to believe. a higher number of people than one would imagine to end up doing phds in non-biomedical specialties if it is administratively or beurocratically possible at their school. it would be difficult to impossible to do an md/phd in epi at the cornell/rock TriI program simply because they don't have a phd program in that subject at our school. this is shortly going to change, and i'm sure that it would become a possibility [though proabbly not up front] once it became established. while most people do interview and get accepted with the intent of pursuing basic biomedical research, people do change their mind, and if possible - the program will help you do what you would like within its means. in yales mstp, there are many examples of people that interviewed with strong intent to pursue neuroscience or other science phds, but a few ended up doign medical anthro instead. even programs like columbia that definatly stress the basic research to the nth degree have people pursuing phds in epi or health econ. yes, it was probably better for them that they interviewed with an intent to pursue neuro - but things change, and programs know that.

the nih does have a more flexible view on this as vader was mentioning - and for good reason - who is to say where the benefit of dual training will come to fruition? nevertheless, there primary mission is directed to having their trainees pursue basic science disciplines.

if you are interested in 'non-trad' phd dicipline - it is best to apply to schools that support this up front. if you are not sure, you can broaden the schools you are interested in to those where it would be feasible - and decide later. it is important to be honest and up front during your interviews. don't think that people will automatically be turned off to your goals because they aren't explicitly defined by a 'program mission'. it also doesn't hurt to be true to yourself.
 

atsai3

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If you're interested in health policy and epidemiology, Case is also supportive of more customised MD-PhD curricula. For example, Gregory Pappas completed a MD-PhD in anthropology and continued to do more epidemiological work and also worked in DHHS with Satcher.

http://www.apha.org/ppp/maternal/bio_pappas.htm

Cheers
-AT.

Originally posted by Skinship
There is at least one fully-funded MD-PhD program in the country that focuses on training physician-scientists in the Health Services Research (HSR) division of Epidemiology.

Because this program is uniquely focused on training Health Services Research MD/PhDs I wonder if it is appropriate to mention it in the MD-PhD forum FAQ? It is housed at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) and independent of the CWRU MSTP program, but structured the same and housed within the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics / School of Medicine.
 

PfNO22

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I'm sorry Kirsteen, but this isn't just my feeling. MD/PhD programs were created for basic science research and very rarely is there deviation from that. You can certainly do a non-integrated, or at least non-funded, program that involves a non-basic science PhD, but fully-funded MD/PhD programs want to fund researchers.

For more info: see the mission statement at the NIH website here http://www.nigms.nih.gov/training/mstp.html. It explicitly states that it is for biomedical research with the goal of producing academic physicians or basic science researchers. There's been more written on this topic as well. I can dig more up if you'd like. Are you applying for MD/PhD now? If so, if you tell them you are interested in epidemiology you will face stiff criticism and I'm afraid you will not get accepted.

8 years later, do you still feel the same way?
 

Neuronix

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right..i definitely don't think its the norm and usually folks choosing the 'alternate' md/phd have to have a compelling application..and pretty well thought out plans for research.

I think this is true. Combine that with a very solid MD/PhD app and do some research as to what programs will be alternative PhD friendly.
 
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