Jul 31, 2009
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Hey guys,

If someone is a psychology major but has decent research experience in neuropsychology would they have a decent chance for getting into a neuroscience/neuro imaging md/phd program? I really want to do neuroimaging research, not really practice medicine. Or should I persue becoming a neuropsychologist which was plan A? Would the md/phd be a whole lot better for neuro research? I'm assuming if I did well on the MCATS I would be okay even though only took one neuro course and one bio course?

Thank you!!
 

CielloStelatto

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if you don't want to practice medicine at all, then there really is not much need to get an MD unless you want to do medicine-specific or clinical research. Even then, you would need a good understanding of why you want to do what you want to do. meaning, md/phd adcoms won't likely let you in if you don't really want/need both degrees.

my point is, if neuro research is what you want, i'd suggest a phd in neuroscience. plenty of great programs out there. you can do neuroimaging as well with that. in fact, i know a couple folks who do.
 

Neuronix

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I'm assuming if I did well on the MCATS I would be okay even though only took one neuro course and one bio course?
You'll need the medical school prerequisites for MD/PhD programs. That's one year of intro bio, one year of gen chem, one year of orgo chem, one year of gen physics, and typically some amount of math (through Calc I is the usual advice). You will aim for As in all of these, as well as the rest of your classes, as a 3.6+ is strongly recommended for MD/PhD applications (3.8+ is best). Frankly, you'll have to get your heart into it or you will never get the As in these courses and the 90th or higher percentile on the MCAT you will need for MD/PhD. You will want all of those courses completed before you take the MCAT, with few exceptions.

Otherwise only do MD/PhD if you see yourself practicing medicine in addition to research. There's a lot of medicine (it is medical school after all) and the real benefit to MD/PhD is becoming a board certified physician. This means many years of your life will be spent as a physician. If you really want to do both, then do both. If you really want to do research, then get a PhD.
 
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strangeglove

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If you are interested in clinical neuropsychology (i.e. doing clinical assessments of cognitive functions as consultations for neurologists and psychiatrists), then getting a PhD in clinical psychology and doing an internship in neuropsych would be the way to go. If you want to do research on cognitive functions with brain damaged patients, then doing a PhD in neuroscience would be the way to go, though there are very few places that do this kind of research any more (the University of Iowa would probably be the best). A PhD in neuroscience would be helpful for fMRI research. Getting an MD won't help you with any of these things unless you are specifically interested in working with patients or want to do some type of translational research. In fact, it would likely diminish your ability to do clinical neuropsych, since most MDs just farm this out to psychologists without really giving much thought to how it's done.
 
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Thank you all for the input!!

I was just checking out my options. I do want to be a clinical neuropsychologist but I don't just want to do testing and therapy. I would like to devote a lot of time to neuro research as well. Which I'm guessing I would need to get into some clinical psych Phd program that allows learn a good chunk of neuro stuff as well. I just wanted to verify not having an MD or Phd in neuroscience would not screw me over if I want to do pure neuro research.
 

strangeglove

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There are many people with PhDs in Clinical Psychology who do brain research, usually with human subjects. A research project will be a requirement for this degree (it is what distinguishes it from the PsyD), and an internship is also a requirement for graduation, which can be done in a neuropsychology department. This internship will be mostly clinical, however. If you want to get a faculty position doing basic neuroscience research, you will most likely need to do a postdoctoral fellowship, whether you do PhD in Clinical Psychology, Neuroscience, MD or MD/PhD. That's at least 2 years more training after completing the doctoral degree.