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Pitt vs. Miami, Miami vs. Pitt

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by theprizefighter, Apr 25, 2004.

  1. theprizefighter

    theprizefighter Senior Member
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    Ok, Guys

    It goes something like this: I'm interested in academic medicine, mainly clinical research, and I've gotta choose between either Pitt's MD/MS Clinical Scientist Training Program (5 yrs, unfunded) and University of Miami's MD/PhD program (7-8 yrs, funded). Here's some of the stuff I've weighed.

    1. MD/PhD is more rigorous and pretigious degree program while the MD/MS program is at a more pretigious med school with a higher Step 1 average (Pitt is 15 in the rankings; Miami is 50).

    2. Pittsburgh has lousy weather with supportive family and friends while Miami has sunny weather with no family or friends down there.

    3. Funding in Miami but longer training with no funding at Pitt but shorter training.

    4. Clinical facilities: These guys are about dead even. Jackson Memorial is a kick ass hosptial while the UPMC system is a juggernaut in its own right.

    5. Comfort: I know the 'burgh like the back of my hand and that's pretty comfortable but Miami seems exciting even though it's way different than any other city in the nation.

    My problem, which can be seen from the points above, is that the schools are so well matched but in different ways. Help!

    Thanks,

    theprizefighter
     
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  2. Mr. Rosewater

    Mr. Rosewater Senior Member
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    well, i don't know what the ultimate path is for you. you should decide based on you goals and willingness to invest time. however, i strongly disagree w/ the idea that you should go w/ miami just b/c it's funded. tuition and a stipend may equal 50K or so per year, but the extra 3 years of school will cost you somewhere in the ballpark of 600K in the long run (plus three years of your life). So, i guess it really comes down to what you wanna do w/ your career.
     
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  3. Spitting Camel

    Spitting Camel Anteater for Life!
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    They don't pay for it all? I thought they did. Something to think about, but 600K? Are you sure?
     
  4. pekq

    pekq Gunner
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    You don't make much money in academic medicine. Graduating debt free would be nice. I think there has been a upward trend for people to do straight MD since MD/PhD programs seem to be easier to get into than in the past. This might be because non dual degree MDs are no longer stigmatized against as much in academia? dunno.
     
  5. mlw03

    mlw03 Senior Member
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    i believe the 600K refers to lost income, ie 3 more years of training means 3 less years of a salary.

     
  6. theprizefighter

    theprizefighter Senior Member
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    Hi, All

    You all bring up some very good points and I thank you for them. One reason that some people get the MD/PhD is that is makes them very competitive not just for residency but also when they apply for faculty positions at university medical centers after residency and fellowship. Is this bunk or true?

    For the money, there would be a two year difference because I would do the one year MS at Pitt. That would be paid for so the difference would be more like 400k assuming an average salary of 200k/yr. Miami would cover tuition and pay a 20K per year stipend per year. That said, money is not necessarily the best thing to focus on here because the savings in both cases pretty much seem to even out in the long run.

    pekq: Why do you think MD/PhD programs are easier to get into than in the past? Why do you think non-dual degree MDs are less stigmatized in academia? Do you think these trends will continue? Why?

    We all know that Pitt is a better med school than Miami in many ways but do you guys think that Pitt is way better or is the match a bit more even? Which do you think would be the better city to go to school in (not vacation in)? Should any of these factors really matter in my decision?

    Thanks,

    tpf
     
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  7. Kashue

    Kashue No longer a USMLE JUNKIE!
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    I'm going to add my 2 cents since I am being posed with a similar dilemma.

    I'm going with the MD/PHD route for the following reasons:

    1. An MD/PHD will make you more competitive for residency and faculty positions(as compared to an MD with similar credentials).

    2. An MD/PHD degree gives you flexibility in your goals whether you want to end up in academia, private practice, government, administration, etc.

    3. As to the money in academic medicine, it depends on where you end up and the "fringe benefits." Some school's faculty make comparable dollars to those in private practice (rumors that there is a WashU neurosurgeon making 1.2 million?). In addition, your malpractice insurance will most likely be covered and you'll be able to use the institutions facilities. This will reduce your overhead and thereby increase your salary. Also, even if there is a loss of income, many make up the loss by acting as consultants, going on talks, etc.

    4. Miami is a solid school and in fact if you're interested in Optho research (which I am), Miami is affiliated with Bascom Palmer, one of top 3 optho departments in the U.S. Also, the weather is awesome and girls HOTTT.

    If I were you, I'd go with Miami in a heartbeat.
     
  8. theprizefighter

    theprizefighter Senior Member
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    Thanks for the feedback, Kashue. Anyone else?

    tpf
     
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  9. duka

    duka Senior Member
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    I worked with a pediatrician in college for a year and he had a similar predicament. He did the MD-PhD at an unranked school, and because of his research, he was able to get a residency spot at seattle children's-- a great place. he seemed to have no regrets, and was incredibly successful as a pediatrician and faculty member at a residency program in CT. I would go with Kashue-- do the MD-PhD.
     
  10. theprizefighter

    theprizefighter Senior Member
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    Thanks for the advice, Duka.

    It seems like this thread is tilting towards Miami MD/PhD. Anyone want to play devil's advocate and argue for Pitt's MD/MS CSTP?

    tpf
     
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  11. pekq

    pekq Gunner
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    Devil's Advocate:

    You can definetly get into academia with just an MD. A MD/PhD is a huge commitment and it adds those extra years into your training. With that said, UPitt has way better research so if you get an awesome PI, you'd be better off doing MD/MS at UPitt.

    As for MD/PhD getting easier, I am not sure but I've heard of cases of people being rejected from all MD programs but getting into pretty good MD/PhD programs. And some of those people would rather go straight MD. I guess the way they choose candidates is a lot different.
     
  12. theprizefighter

    theprizefighter Senior Member
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    So pekq brings up a good point that I forgot to mention earlier. I have a project at Pitt right now with a superb PI and I could just imagine that flowing into the MS degree very well. In Miami, though, I don't know anyone. Aaaaargh.


    tpf
     
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  13. jedirampage

    jedirampage Senior Member
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    The way they choose candiadates IS much different. More emphasis is placed on research experience for MD/PhD programs and since they interview a much smaller pool of applicants, they seem more interested in the applicant's abilities, experiences, and potential then the straight MD ADCOMs. I mean this in the sense that the hoops you must jump through to gain an acceptance are not as rigidly set. Just my experience from interviewing for MD/PhD programs.

    Also, regarding the loss of salary due to two extra years in school, this is not exactly accurate if you are planning to go into academic medicine. You will not be making the money you would going straight to private practice (although as you get closer to tenure you salary will become comprable and if you are good at getting grants you will also be well off). That being said, the road to tenure will be accelerated with the dual degree, so that in the end it might take you the same amount of time or less to get to that salary bracket than if you went into the tenure track as an MD only. This also depends on your specialty as well (this is less true for surgical specialties I would imagine).

    So to conclude, I would suggest doing the MD/PhD if you want to do basic science research as an academic clinician. The PhD is a little less valuable if clinical research/trials is the extent of your interest.
     
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  14. maswe12

    maswe12 Member
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    I dont think its fair to say there is better research at Pitt, but rather just more of it being done. Honestly, based on reputation alone, I dont think that there is much of a decision to be made. Its not like you are comparing Miami to Harvard/Hopkins. Pitt is a great school but in my opinion, beyond those two, its not going to be a huge difference with Miami and any MD school. Miami is a fun city to live in and its nice not having the grey days of winter in the northeast. If you are doing the PhD simply for funding, its not worth it, but if you want the degree and to learn the science, then you have an easy choice---UM
     
  15. triman

    triman New Member

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    Jedirampage brought up a good point. As far as I know, most MD/PhD programs only offer PhD tracks in the basic sciences and maybe epi, possibly limiting the applicability to your research interests. The CSTP program is geared towards training clinical researchers as opposed to basic science researchers, and offers concentrations in other clinical research areas that may be of interest to you - clinical trials, outcomes research (decision analysis, etc), biostats, and some others I can't remember in addition to an epi concentration. Also, if you're interested in clinical research, my experience is that very few investigators have a PhD, and there are a good number that don't have a MSc or MPH either. The other thing you should consider is the type of research going on. I don't know that much about Miami, but Pitt, due to the amount of research going on and because they have a School of Public Health, has a wide variety of clinical research going on.
     
  16. theprizefighter

    theprizefighter Senior Member
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    Triman brings up a good point, espcially since I'm interested clinical research right now. Do people think an MD/PhD is better general prep for clinical research or just an MD/MS? Some would argue that a PhD better imparts the critical thinking skills that would be useful for any type of medical researc, including clinical. Others would assert that programs like the Pitt CSTP are better because you are directly exposed to clinical research projects even though a 1 year masters may not be the best exposure, especially if one is interesed in longitudinal clinical studies. Any thoughts?

    Thanks,

    tpf
     
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