Quantcast

PhD Prior to Medical School

This forum made possible through the generous support of SDN members, donors, and sponsors. Thank you.

M.D. (if accepted) or PhD?

  • PhD

    Votes: 2 8.7%
  • M.D.

    Votes: 21 91.3%

  • Total voters
    23

Icantplayspades

Membership Revoked
Removed
Account on Hold
2+ Year Member
Joined
Apr 9, 2017
Messages
592
Reaction score
271
So, I just graduated from undergrad and applied to a doctoral program. Upon reviewing my application, the school in question invited me down so they could more thoroughly "sell" their program-keep in mind this is a great school. I was always just as interested in research as I was medicine so I don't consider this a concession. If I finish my Phd in 5 years, I'd be in my early 30's and I could still apply to medical school once more (my goal would be to practice neurology); I know that this process is possible but it is prudent?

Should I just take the PhD and run (mind you, I'd pay no tuition and would receive a decent stipend)?
 

getdown

Full Member
10+ Year Member
Joined
Nov 16, 2010
Messages
1,617
Reaction score
2,989
why not do a combined MD/PhD? Guaranteed 4 year PhD. They can't keep you longer because you have to go back and do M3/4. And you don't have to waste time restudying for MCAT etc. Probably easier to convince them to let you do 4 years PhD when you're already in an MD track than vice versa.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user

chaim123

Almost an MD
Volunteer Staff
5+ Year Member
Joined
Dec 24, 2016
Messages
972
Reaction score
1,326
Do you understand how different these careers are? If your goal is to practice neurology, why get a PhD in a basic science field first, and not just do either MD or MD/PhD depending on your interests?
 
  • Like
Reactions: 2 users

Icantplayspades

Membership Revoked
Removed
Account on Hold
2+ Year Member
Joined
Apr 9, 2017
Messages
592
Reaction score
271
why not do a combined MD/PhD? Guaranteed 4 year PhD. They can't keep you longer because you have to go back and do M3/4. And you don't have to waste time restudying for MCAT etc. Probably easier to convince them to let you do 4 years PhD when you're already in an MD track than vice versa.

I don't think I could get accepted to an MD/PhD
 

Icantplayspades

Membership Revoked
Removed
Account on Hold
2+ Year Member
Joined
Apr 9, 2017
Messages
592
Reaction score
271
Do you understand how different these careers are? If your goal is to practice neurology, why get a PhD in a basic science field first, and not just do either MD or MD/PhD depending on your interests?

MD schools don't seem to be biting and I don't think I could swing an MD/PhD.
 

chaim123

Almost an MD
Volunteer Staff
5+ Year Member
Joined
Dec 24, 2016
Messages
972
Reaction score
1,326
MD schools don't seem to be biting and I don't think I could swing an MD/PhD.

If in the end you want to be a neurologist, then getting a PhD is not going to boost your application. Medical schools will see that you have spent 6 years away from medicine, and wonder why you are trying to go to medical school now. Rather, if you want to be a neurologist, spend some time improving your MD application. Be a scribe, shadow, do research, boost your GPA. But 6 years away from medicine will hurt you more than it will help.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user

eteshoe

.......
5+ Year Member
  • Joined
    Jan 4, 2016
    Messages
    2,303
    Reaction score
    2,678
    So, I just graduated from undergrad and applied to a doctoral program. Upon reviewing my application, the school in question invited me down so they could more thoroughly "sell" their program-keep in mind this is a great school. I was always just as interested in research as I was medicine so I don't consider this a concession. If I finish my Phd in 5 years, I'd be in my early 30's and I could still apply to medical school once more (my goal would be to practice neurology); I know that this process is possible but it is prudent?

    Should I just take the PhD and run (mind you, I'd pay no tuition and would receive a decent stipend)?

    OP if you want to practice medicine (i.e. see patients), an MD/DO is required. If you want to do neurology based research, a PhD is sufficient. If you want to see both patients and carry out research, an MD/PhD is useful but not the only path.

    why not do a combined MD/PhD? Guaranteed 4 year PhD. They can't keep you longer because you have to go back and do M3/4. And you don't have to waste time restudying for MCAT etc. Probably easier to convince them to let you do 4 years PhD when you're already in an MD track than vice versa.

    Very few, if any, programs guarantee a PhD - let alone a PhD in 4 years. If one doesn't meet the metrics for completion of the PhD, they won't be given it.
     
    • Like
    Reactions: 1 users

    azmd22

    Full Member
    2+ Year Member
    Joined
    Nov 9, 2017
    Messages
    163
    Reaction score
    187
    So, I just graduated from undergrad and applied to a doctoral program. Upon reviewing my application, the school in question invited me down so they could more thoroughly "sell" their program-keep in mind this is a great school. I was always just as interested in research as I was medicine so I don't consider this a concession. If I finish my Phd in 5 years, I'd be in my early 30's and I could still apply to medical school once more (my goal would be to practice neurology); I know that this process is possible but it is prudent?

    Should I just take the PhD and run (mind you, I'd pay no tuition and would receive a decent stipend)?


    If you're just as interested in research as you are medicine, you should just do the PhD and no MD. No debt, no residency, much more flexible hours.
     

    Robin-jay

    Full Member
    2+ Year Member
  • Joined
    Sep 23, 2017
    Messages
    1,999
    Reaction score
    2,225
    If you're just as interested in research as you are medicine, you should just do the PhD and no MD. No debt, no residency, much more flexible hours.

    wut.
     
    • Like
    Reactions: 1 user

    azmd22

    Full Member
    2+ Year Member
    Joined
    Nov 9, 2017
    Messages
    163
    Reaction score
    187
    PhD students, especially during their research years, often times have the ability to create their own schedules. My boyfriend is a PhD student in biology and he can work from home much of the time, and go into his lab whenever he wants. He doesn't have the rigid schedule like medical students do. This definitely depends on the program, but his schedule is extremely flexible. He works long hours, but he chooses his hours for the most part.
     
    • Like
    Reactions: 1 user

    Robin-jay

    Full Member
    2+ Year Member
  • Joined
    Sep 23, 2017
    Messages
    1,999
    Reaction score
    2,225
    So, I just graduated from undergrad and applied to a doctoral program. Upon reviewing my application, the school in question invited me down so they could more thoroughly "sell" their program-keep in mind this is a great school. I was always just as interested in research as I was medicine so I don't consider this a concession. If I finish my Phd in 5 years, I'd be in my early 30's and I could still apply to medical school once more (my goal would be to practice neurology); I know that this process is possible but it is prudent?

    Should I just take the PhD and run (mind you, I'd pay no tuition and would receive a decent stipend)?

    Don't underestimate the work of a PhD if your heart and soul aren't into it. Can you work 80+ hours a week for then next 5 years if you really wanted to pursue PhD/medicine? That's for you to decide.

    But if you see both a PhD in research and an MD on equal terms, maybe research is the best option for you. Only because of the "no debt" part.
     
    Last edited:
    • Like
    Reactions: 1 users

    azmd22

    Full Member
    2+ Year Member
    Joined
    Nov 9, 2017
    Messages
    163
    Reaction score
    187
    Don't underestimate the work of a PhD if your heart and soul aren't into it. Can you work 80+ hours a week for then next 5 years if you really wanted to pursue medicine? That's for you to decide.

    But if you see both a PhD in research and an MD on equal terms, maybe research is the best option for you. Only because of the "no debt" part.
    Absolutely. PhD's absolutely are a ton of work, especially if you're not truly interested in it.
     
    • Like
    Reactions: 1 user

    Robin-jay

    Full Member
    2+ Year Member
  • Joined
    Sep 23, 2017
    Messages
    1,999
    Reaction score
    2,225
    PhD students, especially during their research years, often times have the ability to create their own schedules. My boyfriend is a PhD student in biology and he can work from home much of the time, and go into his lab whenever he wants. He doesn't have the rigid schedule like medical students do. This definitely depends on the program, but his schedule is extremely flexible.

    They do have the time to research when they desire to (unless you have a stringent PI). However, you will still be expected to be in the lab a minimum of 40-60 hours a week, and will also be required under most programs to also teach 20+ hours a week(among other responsibilities). So even though you can change your schedule to the times that best suit you, you will still have a massive load of work.
     

    azmd22

    Full Member
    2+ Year Member
    Joined
    Nov 9, 2017
    Messages
    163
    Reaction score
    187
    They do have the time to research when they desire to (unless you have a stringent PI). However, you will still be expected to be in the lab a minimum of 40-60 hours a week, and will also be required under most programs to also teach 20+ hours a week(among other responsibilities). So even though you can change your schedule to the times that best suit you, you will still have a massive load of work.
    Right. It's a ton of work and I would never deny that. But the hours (though comparable to the amount of hours worked in medical school) are more flexible.
     
    • Like
    Reactions: 1 user

    Robin-jay

    Full Member
    2+ Year Member
  • Joined
    Sep 23, 2017
    Messages
    1,999
    Reaction score
    2,225
    Absolutely. PhD's absolutely are a ton of work, especially if you're not truly interested in it.

    Because approximately 33-40% of PhD students never earn a PhD, you have to be extraordinarily interested in the content to ever graduate.
     
    • Like
    Reactions: 1 user

    Robin-jay

    Full Member
    2+ Year Member
  • Joined
    Sep 23, 2017
    Messages
    1,999
    Reaction score
    2,225
    Right. It's a ton of work and I would never deny that. But the hours (though comparable to the amount of hours worked in medical school) are more flexible.

    I'm not sure how much "flexible" hours matter if you are expected to work 80+ hours a week anyway.

    If you are given 40 hours a week to work, and you could choose your schedule, thats awesome. But after you hit a certain amount of hours anyway (70+), then who really cares about flexibility because you're still doing stuff all the time.
     
    • Like
    Reactions: 1 user

    azmd22

    Full Member
    2+ Year Member
    Joined
    Nov 9, 2017
    Messages
    163
    Reaction score
    187
    I'm not sure how much "flexible" hours matter if you are expected to work 80+ hours a week anyway.

    If you are given 40 hours a week to work, and you could choose your schedule, thats awesome. But after you hit a certain amount of hours anyway (70+), then who really cares about flexibility because you're still doing stuff all the time anyway.
    .
    I think it matters in terms of vacation/childcare/work-life balance. If my boyfriend wants to go out of town, he has the option of working more during the days leading up. If he has a doctor's appointment, can take the morning off and work late instead. As a medical student/resident, you simply can't do this.
     
    • Like
    Reactions: 1 user

    Robin-jay

    Full Member
    2+ Year Member
  • Joined
    Sep 23, 2017
    Messages
    1,999
    Reaction score
    2,225
    .
    I think it matters in terms of vacation/childcare/work-life balance. If my boyfriend wants to go out of town, he has the option of working more during the days leading up. If he has a doctor's appointment, can take the morning off and work late instead. As a medical student/resident, you simply can't do this.

    Sure, but even a regular 9-5 pm job at your local gas station would prevent you from going to a doctors appointment during regular hours.
     

    azmd22

    Full Member
    2+ Year Member
    Joined
    Nov 9, 2017
    Messages
    163
    Reaction score
    187
    Sure, but even a regular 9-5 pm job at your local gas station would prevent you from going to a doctors appointment during regular hours.
    Not necessarily, if you get someone to cover your shift (or, as a PhD student, someone to assist with your experiments). You can't have someone cover your rotations in medical school.
     

    Robin-jay

    Full Member
    2+ Year Member
  • Joined
    Sep 23, 2017
    Messages
    1,999
    Reaction score
    2,225
    Not necessarily, if you get someone to cover your shift (or, as a PhD student, someone to assist with your experiments). You can't have someone cover your rotations in medical school.

    Maybe so, but in the first place, I think its a moot point because people really shouldn't be missing the classes they teach in grad. school, the important meetings, ones regularly scheduled job, or rotation scheduled.
     

    Icantplayspades

    Membership Revoked
    Removed
    Account on Hold
    2+ Year Member
    Joined
    Apr 9, 2017
    Messages
    592
    Reaction score
    271
    If in the end you want to be a neurologist, then getting a PhD is not going to boost your application. Medical schools will see that you have spent 6 years away from medicine, and wonder why you are trying to go to medical school now. Rather, if you want to be a neurologist, spend some time improving your MD application. Be a scribe, shadow, do research, boost your GPA. But 6 years away from medicine will hurt you more than it will help.


    This is why I love SDN sometimes. I truly appreciate this realistic perspective and had not considered it.

    This gives me something to think about.
     
    • Like
    Reactions: 1 user

    Robin-jay

    Full Member
    2+ Year Member
  • Joined
    Sep 23, 2017
    Messages
    1,999
    Reaction score
    2,225
    This is why I love SDN sometimes. I truly appreciate this realistic perspective and had not considered it.

    This gives me something to think about.

    Take all advice with a grain of salt though. I certainty wouldn't earn a PhD to look better for Med school. I took the master in chemistry route (before med school), but to each their own.
     

    Med Ed

    Full Member
    5+ Year Member
    Joined
    Sep 13, 2015
    Messages
    3,545
    Reaction score
    13,145
    So, I just graduated from undergrad and applied to a doctoral program. Upon reviewing my application, the school in question invited me down so they could more thoroughly "sell" their program-keep in mind this is a great school. I was always just as interested in research as I was medicine so I don't consider this a concession. If I finish my Phd in 5 years, I'd be in my early 30's and I could still apply to medical school once more (my goal would be to practice neurology); I know that this process is possible but it is prudent?

    Should I just take the PhD and run (mind you, I'd pay no tuition and would receive a decent stipend)?

    If you want to go to spend 5-7+ years in a lab, post-doc, and have a career writing grants while living on soft money, then get a PhD. If you want to spend 4 years in medical school, 3-5 years in residency, +/- fellowship, and practice medicine then improve your application.

    Every year we get a some apps from people who took the PhDetour (read better part of a decade). Sometimes we accept them.
     
    • Like
    Reactions: 1 users

    Robin-jay

    Full Member
    2+ Year Member
  • Joined
    Sep 23, 2017
    Messages
    1,999
    Reaction score
    2,225
    Plus OP, you're asking a medical school forums on what path you should take. Why not also ask a chemistry forums? That way, you get both sides if the story before really making a choice between the two.
     

    Forever Geebs

    Full Member
    2+ Year Member
    Joined
    Jan 16, 2017
    Messages
    572
    Reaction score
    368
    You say the MD schools aren’t biting yet you didn’t indicate you had applied, unless I’m mistaken. Do you expect MD schools to “sell” you on their program without having applied, been interviewed, and the like? I’m confused.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     

    Icantplayspades

    Membership Revoked
    Removed
    Account on Hold
    2+ Year Member
    Joined
    Apr 9, 2017
    Messages
    592
    Reaction score
    271
    You say the MD schools aren’t biting yet you didn’t indicate you had applied, unless I’m mistaken. Do you expect MD schools to “sell” you on their program without having applied, been interviewed, and the like? I’m confused.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

    Yes, I have applied. I'm aware that medical school admissions are more stringent and competitive (i.e. I know it's not a scenario where a program will try to "sell" themselves).
     

    chaim123

    Almost an MD
    Volunteer Staff
    5+ Year Member
    Joined
    Dec 24, 2016
    Messages
    972
    Reaction score
    1,326
    @azolesoul could we get a little more information? From what I've gathered, you've applied to both MD and PhD programs this year, and have PhD interviews, but not MD. I also get the sense that you kind of applied to PhD programs "for fun" or maybe as a backup? I think the real key here is that these are two very different careers paths, and doing one will not boost your application for the other.

    Feel free to private message me. I'd love to chat more if you want some advice or any guidance for the future.
     

    Robin-jay

    Full Member
    2+ Year Member
  • Joined
    Sep 23, 2017
    Messages
    1,999
    Reaction score
    2,225
    @azolesoul could we get a little more information? From what I've gathered, you've applied to both MD and PhD programs this year, and have PhD interviews, but not MD. I also get the sense that you kind of applied to PhD programs "for fun" or maybe as a backup? I think the real key here is that these are two very different careers paths, and doing one will not boost your application for the other.

    Feel free to private message me. I'd love to chat more if you want some advice or any guidance for the future.

    PhD interviews? What? That's not how that really works with PhD's.
     

    eteshoe

    .......
    5+ Year Member
  • Joined
    Jan 4, 2016
    Messages
    2,303
    Reaction score
    2,678
    Absolutely. PhD's absolutely are a ton of work, especially if you're not truly interested in it.

    It can be soul sucking if you don't enjoy it. A PhD is essentially 90% failed experiments - so not enjoying the work can take it's toll on a person. I've seen it happen quite a bit.

    PhD interviews? What? That's not how that really works with PhD's.

    Some PhD programs accept students and some interview before giving the acceptances. Depends on the field and caliber of the program.

    I mean yes, but they're called "interviews". Usually it's just selling the school, and there's like 80-90% acceptance post interview, but my friends at least call them interviews.

    At top tier programs, the acceptance rate may not be quite as high but essentially yes.
     
    • Like
    Reactions: 3 users

    Robin-jay

    Full Member
    2+ Year Member
  • Joined
    Sep 23, 2017
    Messages
    1,999
    Reaction score
    2,225
    I mean yes, but they're called "interviews". Usually it's just selling the school, and there's like 80-90% acceptance post interview, but my friends at least call them interviews.

    I could be wrong, but when PhD students apply, they usually are "accepted" before they go to the school for an "interview" and this is more the norm.

    This was at an ivy league level program too, but maybe the above poster is right, they might do an "interview-type" thing at certain places.

    That's from what I understand by hanging around those that did that.
     

    chaim123

    Almost an MD
    Volunteer Staff
    5+ Year Member
    Joined
    Dec 24, 2016
    Messages
    972
    Reaction score
    1,326
    I could be wrong, but when PhD students apply, they usually are "accepted" before they go to the school for an "interview" and this is more the norm.

    This was at an ivy league level program too, but maybe the above poster is right, they might do an "interview-type" thing at certain places.

    That's from what I understand by hanging around those that did that.

    My friend has "interviews" at Harvard, Yale, etc. for PhD in Biol. Has not been formally accepted to any of them. Just invited to the "recruitment weekend". I have heard that other departments, such as chemistry, tend to accept before the interview.
     
    • Like
    Reactions: 1 user

    Robin-jay

    Full Member
    2+ Year Member
  • Joined
    Sep 23, 2017
    Messages
    1,999
    Reaction score
    2,225
    My friend has "interviews" at Harvard, Yale, etc. for PhD in Biol. Has not been formally accepted to any of them. Just invited to the "recruitment weekend". I have heard that other departments, such as chemistry, tend to accept before the interview.

    Ok, I don't know much about the biology, but the chemistry seems to be "accept" before any meetings in person.
     
    • Like
    Reactions: 1 user

    Icantplayspades

    Membership Revoked
    Removed
    Account on Hold
    2+ Year Member
    Joined
    Apr 9, 2017
    Messages
    592
    Reaction score
    271
    Now that I've had time to think about the situation, I believe that if I entered the PhD program I'd be doing so out of fear. Just because my dream didn't pan out immediately and initially, I will just have to work harder and smarter to get into medical school.

    I'm considering doing Georgetown GEMS; does anyone know of comparable or better programs?
     
    • Like
    Reactions: 1 users

    aldol16

    Full Member
    5+ Year Member
    Joined
    Nov 1, 2015
    Messages
    5,305
    Reaction score
    4,069
    I could be wrong, but when PhD students apply, they usually are "accepted" before they go to the school for an "interview" and this is more the norm.

    This was at an ivy league level program too, but maybe the above poster is right, they might do an "interview-type" thing at certain places.

    Ok, I don't know much about the biology, but the chemistry seems to be "accept" before any meetings in person.

    There really aren't any formal interviews in chemistry for graduate student positions. If anything, it'll be a phone call or Skype with a specific PI that you want to work for. But in general, the programs will make their decisions and then during the recruitment weekends (which only those accepted are invited to), the PIs will have poster sessions so you can get a sense of what everybody is working on and make your decision about which labs you want to rotate through.

    The interview process applies for post-doc and up positions. For those, we interview them (expenses provided by the PI), wine and dine them, and then make the decision after seeing their research presentations.
     
    • Like
    Reactions: 1 user

    Robin-jay

    Full Member
    2+ Year Member
  • Joined
    Sep 23, 2017
    Messages
    1,999
    Reaction score
    2,225
    There really aren't any formal interviews in chemistry for graduate student positions. If anything, it'll be a phone call or Skype with a specific PI that you want to work for. But in general, the programs will make their decisions and then during the recruitment weekends (which only those accepted are invited to), the PIs will have poster sessions so you can get a sense of what everybody is working on and make your decision about which labs you want to rotate through.

    The interview process applies for post-doc and up positions. For those, we interview them (expenses provided by the PI), wine and dine them, and then make the decision after seeing their research presentations.

    Superbly put.
     

    Med Ed

    Full Member
    5+ Year Member
    Joined
    Sep 13, 2015
    Messages
    3,545
    Reaction score
    13,145
    Now that I've had time to think about the situation, I believe that if I entered the PhD program I'd be doing so out of fear. Just because my dream didn't pan out immediately and initially, I will just have to work harder and smarter to get into medical school.

    Smart man. Good luck.
     
    • Like
    Reactions: 1 users

    CherryRedDracul

    Actually a man.
    7+ Year Member
    Joined
    Oct 12, 2012
    Messages
    2,078
    Reaction score
    4,187
    You can always attempt an internal transfer into MD/PhD from MD. I had the opportunity during med school but passed up the opportunity because I wasn't THAT passionate about research. A few of my fellow classmates, however, took the opportunity.
     

    aldol16

    Full Member
    5+ Year Member
    Joined
    Nov 1, 2015
    Messages
    5,305
    Reaction score
    4,069
    You can always attempt an internal transfer into MD/PhD from MD. I had the opportunity during med school but passed up the opportunity because I wasn't THAT passionate about research. A few of my fellow classmates, however, took the opportunity.

    This is a much more costly route, however, because I think you're still on the hook for the first two years of MD tuition (they don't reimburse you).
     
    This thread is more than 4 years old.

    Your message may be considered spam for the following reasons:

    1. Your new thread title is very short, and likely is unhelpful.
    2. Your reply is very short and likely does not add anything to the thread.
    3. Your reply is very long and likely does not add anything to the thread.
    4. It is very likely that it does not need any further discussion and thus bumping it serves no purpose.
    5. Your message is mostly quotes or spoilers.
    6. Your reply has occurred very quickly after a previous reply and likely does not add anything to the thread.
    7. This thread is locked.
    Top