Sep 16, 2020
  1. Pre-Medical
Hello, I am new to SDN. I know this type of question gets asked a lot but I was wondering if I could solicit some opinions on starting and MD/PhD at 32. I have a lot of research experience. I have a research-based Master's, a first-author publication, and 12 or so co-author publications in good journals (Most impact factors of at least 5, with one article under review at a high-impact journal). I currently work in a lab and I've reached about the highest position I can with my education. I'm grateful for my job and my lab is fantastic but I'm finding myself deeply unsatisfied and bored. I want to continue my education and was pre-med before I started doing research. Now, I'd like to revisit the possibility of going to medical school, but I'm also entertaining the idea of getting a PhD. I know MDs can do research and know about the differences between MD and PhD-based careers. I am having a very difficult time choosing between doing an MD or a PhD. I see positive and negative aspects to both. In my ideal world I would just do an MD/PhD program and get both degrees to give myself the maximum amount of career flexibility. However, my age is giving me pause, specifically because I do not have much financial support. I am concerned about living like a student for 8+ years, likely into my 40's. Is there anyone here who has started or is going to start an MD/PhD program later in life (or anyone else) that could offer some insight on their decision-making process? Thank you in advance.

Edit: I had originally posted this in the pre-med forum. Thank you to whoever moved it to this forum, which is more appropriate for my question.
Last edited:


Total nerd
Staff member
15+ Year Member
Mar 14, 2002
the beach
  1. Attending Physician
I wouldn't recommend it. I'm almost 40 and assistant professor on the usual timeline, and getting a career established as a physician scientist is incredibly stressful and barely possible even when things are going well. I'd try to pick one pathway if I were you. You can keep a hand in research if you want with an MD alone.
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15+ Year Member
Jan 4, 2002
  1. Attending Physician
Ditto. Get into medical school, pick a cush specialty, enjoy life. Do research for fun if you have the time.
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Jan 17, 2013
  1. MD/PhD Student
Would have to concur with the above responses. I am in the last year of my MD/PhD and am on the wrong side of 30. Doing simple math if you started now, you would at best case finish at 39 years, add on a PSTP for residency and you're looking at mid to late 40's of completing training. Additionally this also means you would be living a resident live style in your 40's. You've already completed your masters, you certainly have some experience in research under your belt. There are plenty of MD-only scientists out there with labs if you decide to go full-time research, I know of some personally who after medical school did a traditional post-doc and didn't do a residency. That being said, doing medical school still affords you the flexibility to do both whereas a PhD would not.

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