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what's the point of a good research school if you're an MD only?

SeventhSon

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  1. MD/PhD Student
    I am all of the sudden getting a huge gut check and feeling very pessimistic about my chances at the MD/PhD. I should have waited a year. I just don't have enough research experience. I know I'll get in somewhere, but not everywhere has people doing the research in my interest area.

    I still feel quite optimistic about my MD chances though. My question is this: suppose I were to get into a great program MD-only that has great research in my research interests?

    WHAT'S THE POINT?!?!?!?!

    Am i going to have time to take advantage of those facilities while I am stuffing my brain those 4 years? The answer is probably no.

    Is this going to help me get where I'm going (I primarily want to do research)? Ugh, so many questions. I wanted to know what you guys thought
     

    bkpa2med

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      MD/Phd programs are different in which after MS1 and MS2, you go on to complete a Phd.
      Then you go back to finish the clinical years [3-4] and earn your MD/Phd. If you want to be a doctor of medicine and research this is your best bet. If you just want to do any research why bother, just get a Phd IMHO.
       

      silas2642

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        Ask when you go on your MD interviews. If you really want to do research that badly and get an MD acceptance, then ask to defer your acceptance for a year so you can do research and reapply for your school's md/phd program. I have no idea whether or not this would work, but check it out. Write your admissions directors of the schools you applied at and find out what you can do about this. Looking at your application, your numbers are really strong, but numbers aren't everything, and you applied to some super competitive schools. Look at Wiggy, the applicant witha 4.0 and a 40 on her mcat who almost didn't get in last year. Crap happens.
         
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        Bernito

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          SeventhSon said:
          I am all of the sudden getting a huge gut check and feeling very pessimistic about my chances at the MD/PhD. I should have waited a year. I just don't have enough research experience. I know I'll get in somewhere, but not everywhere has people doing the research in my interest area.

          I still feel quite optimistic about my MD chances though. My question is this: suppose I were to get into a great program MD-only that has great research in my research interests?

          WHAT'S THE POINT?!?!?!?!

          Am i going to have time to take advantage of those facilities while I am stuffing my brain those 4 years? The answer is probably no.

          Is this going to help me get where I'm going (I primarily want to do research)? Ugh, so many questions. I wanted to know what you guys thought


          You don't HAVE to have a PhD to do research. It might help if you mention the type of research you are talking about...

          Also, some schools allow you to take one year off of the MD program to do research only. You don't get a PhD, but you get some research experience and it looks good for later down the road (and you can probably publish many case studies in that year).
           

          kaffy

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            Bernito said:
            You don't HAVE to have a PhD to do research. It might help if you mention the type of research you are talking about...

            Also, some schools allow you to take one year off of the MD program to do research only. You don't get a PhD, but you get some research experience and it looks good for later down the road (and you can probably publish many case studies in that year).

            Doesn't Harvard have a program like that?
             

            dajimmers

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              I wouldn't be so pessimistic about your chances at MSTP, but in the event you get MD only, you still have plenty of options for research. Most allow, or even require a research project be completed during the four years. The summer between years 1 and 2 is open for research projects, and many schools let you take a year off to complete a larger project. Funding is often available for either of these options. Finally, you can apply for MD/PhD once you're accepted at some places, so you still start PhD work after M2.

              The only problem with all of these options, for you, is that the four MD years are still going to cost you $$$. The research work can all be covered, but you'd still graduate deep in debt, and start in a field where primary care docs probably make more than you would.

              Kind of off-topic, but I've always had issues with the MSTP program. They pay for the training of "physician-investigators," yet at the end of the program, the students have every ability to go into derm or plastics and never conduct research again, basically wasting the gov's money. I think it should be offered to students graduating from research-heavy MD or MD/PhD programs that have already committed to research work. Like, they could subsidize the loans during residency years, and then if they go into low-paying academic/research medicine, promise they'll get their loans aboloshed. This way, the MSTP money goes only to students who will be physician investigators. Oh well...
               

              laboholic

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                Well, there are many other opportunities other than an MD/PhD. A lot of physicians do research with just the MD. There are programs like the Dorris Duke research fellowship where you can take a year off of medical school to do research, they give you a grad student stipend (20-25k) and insurance coverage for that year.. This program looks VERY favorably on your CV when you are applying to residency programs, especially residencies that incorporate research into the training. On top of the many one-year research fellowships during med school, you can also become involved in summer research programs for medical students... most schools with good research (like the ones you probably applied to) will have these programs available. They often pay 4-5k for a 10-12 week program and you can work with a faculty member of your choice... If thats not enough... you can take electives at many schools that involve research.

                Oh yea..... you dont HAVE to be accepted to the MSTP program right off the bat. I know students who have made their way into MSTP after their first year of med school.... they expressed a lot of interest in research and did well their first year, the administration was easily able to make an extra spot in the program for them... so this is yet another route..

                good luck!
                 

                Bernito

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                  dajimmers said:
                  I wouldn't be so pessimistic about your chances at MSTP, but in the event you get MD only, you still have plenty of options for research. Most allow, or even require a research project be completed during the four years. The summer between years 1 and 2 is open for research projects, and many schools let you take a year off to complete a larger project. Funding is often available for either of these options. Finally, you can apply for MD/PhD once you're accepted at some places, so you still start PhD work after M2.

                  The only problem with all of these options, for you, is that the four MD years are still going to cost you $$$. The research work can all be covered, but you'd still graduate deep in debt, and start in a field where primary care docs probably make more than you would.

                  Kind of off-topic, but I've always had issues with the MSTP program. They pay for the training of "physician-investigators," yet at the end of the program, the students have every ability to go into derm or plastics and never conduct research again, basically wasting the gov's money. I think it should be offered to students graduating from research-heavy MD or MD/PhD programs that have already committed to research work. Like, they could subsidize the loans during residency years, and then if they go into low-paying academic/research medicine, promise they'll get their loans aboloshed. This way, the MSTP money goes only to students who will be physician investigators. Oh well...

                  The MSTP $$ should not factor into consideration. The money you get is not that great. Plus what they say takes 3 years to get the PhD usually takes 4+. Think about how much money that is if you're working as a Dr. for 4 years even if its in academia doing research (where salaries I think are lower?).

                  You should be ABSOLUTELY sure you want that PhD if you are doing MSTP. Otherwise it can be really messy to get out of it once you are at the school.
                   

                  SeventhSon

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                    MD/PhD's definitely make less than primary care docs coming out, and potentially for the rest of their career. Nobody could possibly afford paying 7 years worth of med/grad school without funding and then go on to make what physicians and academia generally make, their head would be underwater financially for their entire life.

                    This is the point of MD/PhD complete funding... physician-scientists understand taht they will make less than a primary care doc so it would be scary to do MD/PhD. However, it is my genuine belief that the dual degree training puts you in the best position to make a contribution to medical research. It is obvious that the NIH shares my view.

                    Your issues are justified; obviously programs can't force anybody to do anything after their training is complete. However, the whole point of the admissions process is to really get to where our hearts are and if we are really dedicated to doing research. That might be why I am having trouble... I don't have enough research experience (3 Summers and one clerk position for a year in a research office). I know I want to do research, and I am going into every one of my MSTP interviews knowing that that is in question and I have something to prove.


                    dajimmers said:
                    I wouldn't be so pessimistic about your chances at MSTP, but in the event you get MD only, you still have plenty of options for research. Most allow, or even require a research project be completed during the four years. The summer between years 1 and 2 is open for research projects, and many schools let you take a year off to complete a larger project. Funding is often available for either of these options. Finally, you can apply for MD/PhD once you're accepted at some places, so you still start PhD work after M2.

                    The only problem with all of these options, for you, is that the four MD years are still going to cost you $$$. The research work can all be covered, but you'd still graduate deep in debt, and start in a field where primary care docs probably make more than you would.

                    Kind of off-topic, but I've always had issues with the MSTP program. They pay for the training of "physician-investigators," yet at the end of the program, the students have every ability to go into derm or plastics and never conduct research again, basically wasting the gov's money. I think it should be offered to students graduating from research-heavy MD or MD/PhD programs that have already committed to research work. Like, they could subsidize the loans during residency years, and then if they go into low-paying academic/research medicine, promise they'll get their loans aboloshed. This way, the MSTP money goes only to students who will be physician investigators. Oh well...
                     

                    BaylorGuy

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                      If you are going solely MD, it is still good to go to a pretty heavy research institution. Why? There are ample opportunities to do research in med school...most occur between 1st and 2nd year and some electives 4th year. Why? Residency programs see this as a plus if you happen to be doing research in their field...and they see you as being more competitive as compared to other applicants. You have been exposed to the literature in that general field and you understand differing points of view about certain topics.

                      Also, I work with a number of MDs who are faculty at our institution and they have the opportunity to with their department on research (whether clinical or bench). If you are trying to work your way up through a medical institution to gain higher and higher prestige....this helps (also the MD/PhD helps). However, if you are just planning on doing private practice primary care....i see no big reason doing research.
                       

                      argonana

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                        SeventhSon, I think you might be selling yourself a bit short. But anyway, if you have a serious research focus, you'll have options. For instance, UCSD MSTP takes applications from its own first (and maybe second?) year med students. The adcom actually considers these "Cycle 2" applicants to be more competitive because they've already demonstrated that they can succeed in med school. (You should call some MSTP offices and ask them about this...they're generally extremely helpful.) Anyway, I think most schools would allow you to apply through "Cycle 2"--the only school I know of that doesn't is Duke.

                        Another option is to defer from med school for several years to earn your PhD. I doubt that every school would allow you to do this, but there's some flexibility. I have a friend who deferred his acceptance to Vanderbilt Med last year to earn a PhD through a program at the NIH/Cambridge. I think this is a really smart thing to do--you wouldn't be interrupting your medical education, and you'd ultimately have more freedom in determining your future research than you would in an MSTP.

                        If you're not bent on getting the PhD, you could always take a year off after your second year of med school to do research somewhere. There are SO many 1 or 2 semester research programs out there for med students.

                        I think you could also just do a basic research fellowship after earning your MD, right? There's a straight MD in my building who's doing a post-doc fellowship...she's studying iron-sulfur clusters in mice--definitely not very clinical. I'm not sure if she did a clinical residency first, though I can't see why it would be necessary.

                        Hope this helps a little. To answer your question, though, it definitely helps to go to a good research school. As you know, tons of med students spend their summers, etc. doing research at their schools, and building solid connections also helps. Good luck!
                         

                        rocketman

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                          SeventhSon said:
                          MD/PhD's definitely make less than primary care docs coming out, and potentially for the rest of their career. Nobody could possibly afford paying 7 years worth of med/grad school without funding and then go on to make what physicians and academia generally make, their head would be underwater financially for their entire life.

                          This is the point of MD/PhD complete funding... physician-scientists understand taht they will make less than a primary care doc so it would be scary to do MD/PhD. However, it is my genuine belief that the dual degree training puts you in the best position to make a contribution to medical research. It is obvious that the NIH shares my view.

                          Physician-scientists going into academia are probably paid less than primary care docs when all is said and done. But I don't think this is true for MD/PhDs who do clinical residencies. I don't know for sure but that is my impression.
                           

                          goldfish85

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                            rocketman said:
                            Physician-scientists going into academia are probably paid less than primary care docs when all is said and done. But I don't think this is true for MD/PhDs who do clinical residencies. I don't know for sure but that is my impression.

                            @UCLA Harbor they are.
                             
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