Sep 23, 2015
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Hi all,

I'm having some difficulty figuring out if an MD/PhD route will be more beneficial for me than just pursuing an MD with residency and a fellowship/post doc. I obtained a B.S in Neuroscience and I'm finishing up my premed requirements while I'm currently in a Masters of Neuroscience program. I'm really interested in neurology and I am also really passionate about neuroimaging research. I currently intern with a research facility working on a neuroimaging analysis project. I plan on applying to a neuroimaging and neuroinformatics year long masters program for enrollment next fall and then applying to medical school for enrollment in the fall of 2017. From my research on the subject, I understand that the MD/PhD program will give me more in depth formal research training than the MD with the fellowship but my primary concern is will I need to spend those extra 4 years in a PhD program if I've already received 2 Masters? Also, my research focus would be more clinical/translational. From my research, it seems that the PhD portion of the MD/PhD is geared more towards basic science. Would it be necessary for what I'm trying to achieve?

Lastly, are there any recommendations on other resources I could look into? Any advice on how I could be a better candidate for medical school or any information on MD, MSTP or MDPHD programs that are geared towards neuroimaging and neurology?

Thank you so much.

Ps - To be completely honest my premed gpa is good, but not stellar. I don't know how much that will affect the advice given.
 
Sep 23, 2015
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What, exactly, are you trying to achieve? In other words, what are your career goals?

Hi MamaPhD,

Sorry I didn't make that clear. I want to be a neurologist and also conduct neuroimaging research. At this time I'm not sure of the exact specificity, whether I'll be focused on behavioral studies or something functional (due to my broad interests) but I do know that I want to engage in neuroimaging research while practicing.
 
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MamaPhD

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Give some thought to how much of your time you want to devote to research in your career. A 50/50 career is sort of a unicorn in academic medicine these days. If you are really keen on research and want to spend the majority of your time running a lab/research group as a PI, then the PhD is probably a good investment of your time. Otherwise, it may be overkill.
 

tachycore

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I would like to add another and not infrequent option.

Junior faculty (finished med school and residency / fellowship) at academic institutions may have a change of heart and want to do research.

There are NIH-sponsored training programs at that level to guide them into doing research. Most guide you to develop a full-blown research grant proposal. So, you get the bonus of preparing something to submit for research funding with help. Some are even structured to give you a MS / PhD degree along the way. All of this while you are working as faculty. At my institution, I saw these newly minted attendings pursue basic science, clinical research projects, or some mixture thereof.

So, please do not think that you must commit early to a MD/PhD program if you want to do research. Of course, if you are sure and feel that committment is a really, really great match for your career plans, by all means.
 

Neuronix

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I don't understand why you would waste your time getting a second master's degree. Either go for the PhD or go to medical school. You'll likely need the same amount of time in the PhD regardless of whether you get this additional master's degree, hence why it's a waste of time IMO.

Would it be necessary for what I'm trying to achieve?

If you want a serious basic science component to your career, go for the PhD. If you want to be mostly involved in clinical medicine, go for an MD. If you're not sure, you kind of have to pick, but commit yourself and don't stall for time now. The time becomes much more valuable later.

Any advice on how I could be a better candidate for medical school or any information on MD, MSTP or MDPHD programs that are geared towards neuroimaging and neurology?

What's your undergrad GPA? Good but not stellar is meaningless. I have people with an ugrad GPA of 3.1 telling me their GPA was good but not stellar and people with a ugrad GPA of 3.9 telling me the same thing. What's your MCAT score? If you don't have an MCAT score, when do you plan to take it and will you have sufficient time to prepare? How much research did you have before the master's?
 
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If I were you, I'd look into clinical research masters programs first.
 
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Sep 23, 2015
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Thank you all for your responses. They've been very helpful. I'm still having a little trouble but I have decided to simplify my plan a bit. I've decided not to continue with the the second masters program. Though it's very intriguing, I figure that I can use that extra time to gain some work experience instead. In response to Neuronix:

What's your undergrad GPA? Good but not stellar is meaningless. I have people with an ugrad GPA of 3.1 telling me their GPA was good but not stellar and people with a ugrad GPA of 3.9 telling me the same thing. What's your MCAT score? If you don't have an MCAT score, when do you plan to take it and will you have sufficient time to prepare? How much research did you have before the master's?

My undergraduate GPA unfortunately was a 3.0. I tried to atone for it with my Masters where I have a 3.6 GPA. Not perfect, but I have also been interning at a well known research facility for 1.5 years working on fmri analysis and was also a research assistant during undergrad. I haven't taken the MCATs yet, I plan on taking them this summer for 2017 admission.

I've also decided to no longer pursue the MD/PhD. I did think that the PhD would give me a better perspective for treating patients and clinical research but I think I'm going to focus on the MD and when I want more research expertise I might pursue a program similar to the NIH-training program that tachycore mentioned.

Thank you!
 

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I think I'm going to focus on the MD and when I want more research expertise I might pursue a program similar to the NIH-training program that tachycore mentioned.

This is reasonable. Your undergrad GPA is still going to be a big problem. I don't know what your sGPA vs. cGPA is. If your sGPA is under 3.0, you should take more science courses to get it above a 3.0. Clearly you need a high score on the MCAT. Consider re-taking courses for grade replacement for applying DO as well.
 
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