Which school is better for someone who wants to become a physician scientist?

SarahL

Senior Member
7+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Mar 6, 2002
121
0
San Francisco, CA
Visit site
Status
Hello everybody -- I thought the best people to ask this question would be you good researchers. I want to do basic or clinical research after getting an M.D. Since I'm an older applicant, I didn't want to apply for an MSTP slot (I've been working in clinical research for two years). Which school would be better for someone with my goals, UCSD or Pitt? Thanks for any advice you can provide!
 

ckent

Membership Revoked
Removed
15+ Year Member
Jul 31, 2000
2,138
1
Smallville/Metropolis
www.supermanhomepage.com
Status
Both schools are similar in prestige and both schools will probably afford you roughly equal research opportunities during medical school. I would go with whichever school that you feel most comfortable with. Just a word to the wise when it comes to comfort though, realize that academic physicians are paid substantially less then private practice physicians (one of the reasons that MSTP is a fully funded program with a stipend), so if academic medicine is your true goal, I would aim to minimize debt as much as possible. To give you an example of the difference in income, a University GI doc starts at ~80,000; whereas a private practice GI doc currently starts at ~350,000. 80,000 isn't poor, but it definitely helps if you don't have a massive chunk being taken out every month for debt and interest payments.
 

Rumit

Senior Member
10+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Sep 17, 2001
380
1
Boston
Visit site
Status
Resident [Any Field]
Both places are excellent in terms of their research. I am more familiar with UCSD, however, and so what I say may be a little biased. The research there is really world class. If it were my choice, I would pick UCSD simply because I know that it is an excellent research school and that there is a research emphasis in the medical school. In the end, however, I don't think you can go wrong.

Also, it is probably cheaper (I don't know what kind of financial aid package you will have) since it is a public school, and even if you aren't a resident you can get residency after one year. This is a real concern, since, in general, medical researchers don't make as much money as their clinical counterparts.

Hope that helps,

Adam
 
OP
S

SarahL

Senior Member
7+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Mar 6, 2002
121
0
San Francisco, CA
Visit site
Status
You guys are great. Thanks so much. I am always impressed by how willing the people on SDN are to help someone out with advice.

I've gotten a full ride from Pitt, excluding living expenses. I know the cost of living in Pittsburgh is cheaper, but my family is in San Diego. I have no idea how much money San Diego might give me.

How much does the research that you do during med school actually matter? My goal would be to learn more lab techniques, since I already have a lot of experience with clinical research.

UCSD is supposed to provide a fabulous basic science background, but then again, everyone ends up learning the same thing in med school since we all have to take the same tests. Does anyone actually remember and apply the extra stuff that you learn at UCSD?

Since I've been out of school for a few years, I might benefit substantially from a hard-core science curriculum because it would offset whatever I've forgotten since my undergrad years. And the research at UCSD is phenomenal -- definitely an attraction. But I was also impressed by how supportive and friendly the atmosphere at Pitt was, and by the diversity of its student body.

Oh, this is tough...but what a happy thing to have to think about. :)
 

xanthines

decaying organic matter
Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Feb 22, 2002
1,094
4
slashdot.org
Status
Resident [Any Field]
I 2nd Mr Burns' opinion, especially if you decide to do any clinical work requiring those wonderful malpractice premiums in addition to a heavy debt burden (BTW, I've heard MD's have a staggeringly high rate of default on student loans).

<a href="http://www.mnplan.state.mn.us/issues/scan.htm?Id=1413" target="_blank">http://www.mnplan.state.mn.us/issues/scan.htm?Id=1413</a>

I know this is only one case involving a hopsital, not individual physicians and that it is a few months old but it's still part of an overall trend. I especially liked the 3rd paragraph:

The largest malpractice insurers for physicians are raising premiums by as much as 30 percent in some states. Insurers owned by doctors and hospitals, which have typically kept their prices low, are increasing premiums about 10 to 18 percent. At some hospitals, insurance providers are not just increasing premiums, but are reducing the amount of coverage available. Last year one Chicago hospital paid the St. Paul Companies $1 million for $40 million in coverage, with a deductible of $15 million. This year the insurer increased the premium to $1.8 million, reduced the coverage to $10 million and doubled the deductible.

ouch!

-X

</font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by Mr. Burns:
<strong>it comes to comfort though, realize that academic physicians are paid substantially less then private practice physicians (one of the reasons that MSTP is a fully funded program with a stipend), so if academic medicine is your true goal, I would aim to minimize debt as much as possible. To give you an example of the difference in income, a University GI doc starts at ~80,000; whereas a private practice GI doc currently starts at ~350,000. 80,000 isn't poor, but it definitely helps if you don't have a massive chunk being taken out every month for debt and interest payments.</strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">
 

Original

Ogori-Magongo Warrior
7+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Sep 2, 2001
1,823
4
Visit site
Status
SarahL,

Mr Burns and X are certainly right about the financial considerations that accompany a decision to go academic. However, don't worry too much about the slight pay-cut academic physicians get. What's really important is that you end up doing something you're really excited about.

Now regarding those schools, I'd go to Pittsburg. The research at both schools are comparable. However, the full-ride puts your mind off money at Pitt. In addition, I've heard that UCSD has a slightly more competitive atmosphere than several students are comfortable with. Since you're going to be saddled with a rigorous med school curriculum (anywhere you go) in addition to trying to do research afterhours, the last thing you need is an intense atmosphere. You'll need ALL the spare-time you can get if you're going to get any significant research done in med school. Med school by itself is by all means a full-time gig. On the other hand, I've heard that Pitt has a more relaxed student body, and I think the grades are P/F. That will be extremely helpful. Hope this helps. Good luck with your decision.
 

Fermi

Senior Member
15+ Year Member
Jun 6, 2000
489
1
Visit site
Status
</font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by xanthines:
<strong>At some hospitals, insurance providers are not just increasing premiums, but are reducing the amount of coverage available. Last year one Chicago hospital paid the St. Paul Companies $1 million for $40 million in coverage, with a deductible of $15 million. This year the insurer increased the premium to $1.8 million, reduced the coverage to $10 million and doubled the deductible.
</strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Just a question about the math here...

coverage = $10M
deductible = $15M * 2 = $30M

...how can the deductible be 3x the total coverage? That's one way for the insurance company to avoid ever having to pay out! :confused:
 

xanthines

decaying organic matter
Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Feb 22, 2002
1,094
4
slashdot.org
Status
Resident [Any Field]
yeah, I noticed that too, but I'm pretty sure it's either a type or they meant coverage was reduced BY 10M not TO 10M. Still, the insurance co wouldn't be paying anthing so I'm not too sure what's going on there.

-X

</font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by Ferm:
<strong>
coverage = $10M
deductible = $15M * 2 = $30M

...how can the deductible be 3x the total coverage? That's one way for the insurance company to avoid ever having to pay out! :confused: </strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">