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PhD and MD? (Not MD/PhD)

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gnvi41

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M3 here, loving rotations so far. I have what I consider a moderately successful research background, but seemed more interested in clinical practice when I applied to med school a few years ago. I'm at a pretty research-heavy school and I've been realizing more and more how much I value research, not only the application to medicine, but the entire process. I'd love for research to be a part of my regular practice in the future. I've been thinking quite a bit about a potential PhD, but I'm already an M3. My school does not offer MD/PhD program, but does offer some dual degrees including research certificates, research masters degrees, MPHs and MBAs. Coincidentally, we have a separate graduate school connected to our school that offers all kinds of PhD programs in translational medicine and biology. Not sure if it's feasible to pause after M3 year to pursue a PhD (from a logistics / financial standpoint), then finish fof M4 year. Not sure how long my USMLE score would be valid. I imagine that even if I could do it logistically, it would not be funded like a traditional MD/PhD, and I'd be paying out of pocket, which I don't think I'd be willing to do.

Anyone with experience with this type of dilemma? Any thoughts or ideas? Thanks!
 

Dave1980

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Midway through MS3 seems like you probably missed the boat even if you could pause between MS3 and MS4. I would email the admin people as well as faculty whose lab you find interesting today and figure out if there is anyway forward.
 

Sephirakra

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Most states require completion of Steps 1-3 within seven years to be eligible for a license. Since you've already taken Step 1, the clock is ticking. Adding in 4-5 years for a PhD could make completion of these boards difficult, if not impossible. Some states allow exceptions, but not all, and they are not guaranteed.
 

Lucca

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There are pathways to doing basic and translational research without having to do a PhD and a small number of residency programs where you can obtain a PhD.

Probably the most straightforward path for you is to try to do a dedicated research year, match at a residency program with a T32 or a dedicated physician scientist track that historically takes MD-only residents or with a dedicated MD-only physician scientist track.

The BWF has in the past few years provided grant funding for these kind of tracks, here's a list of grant recipients:


The Usual Suspects (TM) are also pretty supportive of this. Stanford and UCSF have a partnership with the Chan Zuckerberg biohub for example for this kind of path:


it's theoretically possible to do this through any path but you should consider that certain specialties appear to offer easier paths towards a majority research career

 
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Osteosaur

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When I did research PIs with PhDs were always looking for MDs to support the clinical aspects of their research, and I've seen several labs ran by MDs. That's just my observation but I don't think an MD is going to be lost for research opportunities. Grant writing and statistics might take a bit of brushing up, I guess?

Getting a PhD is a lot less certain than an MD. A PI losing funding or moving could totally throw a wrench in all your plans. And between M3 and M4 seems like a very weird time to break.
 

MSTP18

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There are residency/PhD programs. Most famously UCLA:

Fellows/residents admitted to the STAR Program complete clinical training toward board certification in internal medicine, its subspecialties (including cardiology, digestive diseases, hematology/oncology, dermatology, endocrinology, pulmonary and critical care, rheumatology, infectious diseases, nephrology, and clinical immunology and allergy) or in other departments, including neurology, pathology, pediatrics, psychiatry or one of the surgical disciplines (including Surgery, Obstetrics/Gynecology, or Ophthalmology).

In general, the STAR Program begins with approximately 12-24 months of clinical training, followed by research training in one of four research career tracks:

  1. Basic Science: This pathway leads to a Ph.D. degree. STAR fellows select to purse their graduate studies in the School of Medicine basic science departments, any Department in the Life Sciences in the College or from School of Engineering or California Institute of Technology.

 
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