supergliu

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I'm in the Rice/Baylor medical program (currently a college junior) and am interested in pursuing an MPH. I was originally planning on getting both an MD and a MPH, but I'd honestly like to avoid medical school if possible since I'm a lot more interested in the social science aspect of medicine than the science science side. Ultimately, I'd like to work for a public health organization that deals one-on-one with the public in health promotion, like the Charles B. Wang Center in NYC or the Stanford Asian Liver Center.

I've been thinking about (gasp) giving up my spot in the med program and pursuing a MPH by itself, but have been dissuaded by pretty much every advisor I have, one major argument being how difficult it is to see 6 figures without an MD. Is 4 years of hell (aka med school) really vital to having a successful career in what I hope to do?

[And by success, I mean more than simply in the monetary sense, but also how influential and accomplished I can be in the field.]
 
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behealthy

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How much is 4 years in the prime of your life worth/ a career you don't like? If you're considering giving it up, you should. Go for something you love, and worry about the money later.
 

Stories

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To be fair, you can practice public health with a MD. Also, MD isn't as "science science" as you might think. It's kind of like cooking. You have a recipe book, you memorize it, and then you apply it to your clinical practice.

Generally, I think it also comes down to what you want out of your career. Do you want to do medicine at all? If not, then don't continue with your MD. But if you're simply curious about public health, continue on with the MD and look into public health and medicine together. There's a lot of options.

Basically, don't quit the MD program without a damn good reason. It's difficult to get back on that track if you want back on it at some point. This decision really is life altering for you.

Oh, and the 1st and 2nd years of medical school are the roughest since that's when you're spending all your time memorizing stuff. But it's not as difficult as say... trudging through microbiology lab because it makes a lot more common sense than strict science. 3rd and 4th aren't too bad since it's really just learning on the job. My best friend is in medical school, so I'm well in tune with it :)
 

thedelicatessen

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It's wonderful that you're interested in public health. Is there a particular reason why you're opposed to medicine now? If you're seriously not interested in medicine anymore, you can save your sanity and pursue your chosen field. However, having only an MPH may limit your career options in public health as many public health people have an MPH in conjunction with some other skill/profession. If you go the MD/MPH route, you will have a wide variety of options after med school on how to proceed with your career that aren't necessarily too "science-y." Good luck!
 

greg1184

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It's wonderful that you're interested in public health. Is there a particular reason why you're opposed to medicine now? If you're seriously not interested in medicine anymore, you can save your sanity and pursue your chosen field. However, having only an MPH may limit your career options in public health as many public health people have an MPH in conjunction with some other skill/profession. If you go the MD/MPH route, you will have a wide variety of options after med school on how to proceed with your career that aren't necessarily too "science-y." Good luck!
Agree with this post.

MD and MPH are not mutually exclusive degrees. I think they complement each other quite well. MD focuses on the individual health while the MPH focuses on the big picture, population health and research which are crucial to medicine. My school has a combined MD/MPH degree which requires me to do 1 year for the MPH in addition to the 4 years for the MD. To me, I think it is worth it, and looking at the big picture of my education one year isn't really going to be that big of the deal.
 
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supergliu

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The primary thing is that I don't really want to practice medicine anymore. Having taken more premed classes and actually worked in a medical office for a long time, I think I'm much more interested in organizing and planning health education/outreach programs than being a practitioner. So it's not really a question of 4 years versus 5 but rather 2 years versus 5.

I guess what I'm asking is if having an MD (in addition to an MPH) is essential/a huge help in being successful in planning/organizing health outreach programs rather than simply an MPH? In other words, would it be especially difficult for me to do what I hope to do with simply the MPH?
 

behealthy

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I don't think having a MD would really help at all with what you hope to pursue, except for the added clout of letters after your name. Depending on what type of outreach, a degree or certification in education might help the MPH.
 
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supergliu

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What if I was interested in planning (but not being the practitioner at) health outreach and education programs that also incorporated clinical aspects such as vaccinations or screenings and that sort of thing?

(Btw, thanks for all the replies!)
 

Stories

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What if I was interested in planning (but not being the practitioner at) health outreach and education programs that also incorporated clinical aspects such as vaccinations or screenings and that sort of thing?

(Btw, thanks for all the replies!)
You'd be fine with just the MPH, but it would be much easier to move up in the rankings of administration if you had the MD.

Basically, if you get your MD, even if you don't end up doing a residency and practicing medicine, simply having the MD will give you 10x the career mobility as having just a MPH. The question is, do you want the extra education for the mobility?
 

thedelicatessen

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A professor once told me that the key to achieving your career goals is to find someone who's doing what you want to do and find out how they got to where they are. If you're able to achieve your career goals through the MPH only, then that's great, but I still think there's some limitation in career advancement. However, a PhD or DrPH may be a more appropriate advanced degree for you if you later decide to get another degree.
 

splashnchaos23

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I find myself in the exact same situation as a senior. I am more interested in international health organization than working on domestic education, but I certainly think we are peas in the same pod. I cannot offer too much advice, but I will echo others in saying that it boils down to what is important to you. I want the lifestyle that a doctor's salary can afford, but I don't want to be tied down to a career in medicine. I've realized that rather than use medicine as a means to an end & taking 6 weeks max a year to travel with Doctors Without Borders, I can find a solid job abroad in the field... there are tons of jobs available at consulting firms, NGOs, etc.

My advice would be to see if you can do what you want without an MD. Decide where you want to be in life & how much of your time you're willing to sacrafice to get there. If you can find a fulfilling job with just an MPH without sacraficing too much of the salary, go for it (i.e. you can find a great 80-120k job in international health with 5 years of experience; a doctor may make 6 figures, but only after 4 years of med school plus at least 3 of residency).

I plan to complete a year of internships & pursue an MPH to see what opportunities are available to me with the first degree & experience in-hand. Then I will re-evaluate and perhaps seek an MD or another master's degree. Don't forget that there are additional two-year degrees that may complement your MPH more appropriately, depending on the type of position you're interested in. Perhaps a degree in education or business administration may also work in your favor?
 

DeadCactus

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I can't imagine that an MD with no clinical experience or activities has anywhere near the value to justify adding it to an MPH if you don't want it in and of itself. Four years seems like it would be much better spent getting a PhD or MBA + some experience...
 

Music333

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I dropped the whole med school thing early on for social sciences. I don't regret it at all; I know I would not have been happy in the med school and clinical environments. I know plenty of people who are in med school and are quite unhappy. If clinical medicine is something you don't want to do, then don't do it (in my opinion). But just know that your salary will be nowhere near an MD salary.
 
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This thread is really interesting because I found myself in the same boat....anyone have any new ideas on this subject?

I think the reason I am thinking twice about med school is because while I enjoy science I'm not sure I need to have the patient care aspect to my job. Although I want to help people, I just never felt I was good at patient care. I'm also interested in public health of course.

Thanks for any advice
 

phospho

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If I had replied to this thread when it was opened, I know for a fact that I would have told the OP to suck it up and not waste a spot like that. After going through 90% of M1, I truly believe that if you're not 100% convinced that you want medicine, step back, take some time to figure things out, and make the plunge when there isn't a single doubt in your mind that you want medicine. Whether it's the loans, the emotional rollercoaster, or simply the 4 wasted years - it's not even close to being worth it if your heart isn't 100% into it. Just my $0.02.

:luck:
 

beebee0

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You'd be fine with just the MPH, but it would be much easier to move up in the rankings of administration if you had the MD.

Basically, if you get your MD, even if you don't end up doing a residency and practicing medicine, simply having the MD will give you 10x the career mobility as having just a MPH. The question is, do you want the extra education for the mobility?
2nd this. Having an MD will give you a lot more opportunities, and you don't have to "practice medicine"!
 

abcabc1

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2nd this. Having an MD will give you a lot more opportunities, and you don't have to "practice medicine"!

I disagree here. Sure... an MD behind your name looks good, but it's what you've done more than what letters you have behind your name that move you up the ranks.

One of the reasons I disagree is that it's not wise to go to Medical School UNLESS you want to practice Medicine. That's why people become Physicians. Of course, some Physicians (especially Academic ones) have other aspects (i.e. research) as the focus of their careers, but they are still board-certified licensed Physicians.
 

abcabc1

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I'm in the Rice/Baylor medical program (currently a college junior) and am interested in pursuing an MPH. I was originally planning on getting both an MD and a MPH, but I'd honestly like to avoid medical school if possible since I'm a lot more interested in the social science aspect of medicine than the science science side. Ultimately, I'd like to work for a public health organization that deals one-on-one with the public in health promotion, like the Charles B. Wang Center in NYC or the Stanford Asian Liver Center.

I've been thinking about (gasp) giving up my spot in the med program and pursuing a MPH by itself, but have been dissuaded by pretty much every advisor I have, one major argument being how difficult it is to see 6 figures without an MD. Is 4 years of hell (aka med school) really vital to having a successful career in what I hope to do?

[And by success, I mean more than simply in the monetary sense, but also how influential and accomplished I can be in the field.]
Honestly... if you are having doubts about whether you would like to practice as a Physician... then DO NOT GO TO MEDICAL SCHOOL (at least for now). If you go to Med School and your fears materialize (i.e. you hate every second of your life), you will be very frustrated and will have invested time and money that can not be recouped (the time at least; money can come and go).

If you want to work in Public Health, get an MPH or MS, work for a few years and apply for a Doctorate in the Public Health field of your choice. This will help you get better jobs after you finish your PhD/DrPH than you would if you entered a Doctorate straight out of College, as you'll have work experience and contacts in the field.

You do not need to have an MD behind your name to do what you want to do. It takes at least 7 years to become a board-certified and licensed Physician, so you're talking 7 years more than 4. You CAN graduate from Baylor and not do Residency, but it's not worth going through that just for the title.

You're not going to find many adivsers telling you to give up a seat in Med School, let alone BCM. That's a major school. I'm not hung up on rankings, but BCM is up there.

If you enjoy your work, you're more likely to do it well. If you perform your duties well, you're more likely to obtain a wider variety of opportunities. This gives you a chance to make a comfortable living. Plus... don't bet on Physicians making that much money down the line. Their costs are going up while reimbursements are going down. On top of that, mid level practitioners are gaining more autonomy and there are new Medical Schools and residency programs opening up while many existing residency programs are expanding. This will put downward pressure on Physicians' incomes.
 
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What if I was interested in planning (but not being the practitioner at) health outreach and education programs that also incorporated clinical aspects such as vaccinations or screenings and that sort of thing?

(Btw, thanks for all the replies!)
You can also pursue a doctoral level degree in the Public Health field. That should help tremendously with the clout aspect.

If you're 100% sure that you don't want to practice medicine, the MD is probably more trouble than it's worth. If you truly only practice public health, it's not like those extra letters are going to transform into a lot of $$$. You'd be better of with a Doctorate, if you wanted to rise in the ranks of policy determination, so to speak.