MD/PhD Discussion 3

MUDPHUD: A few comments on the article about MD/PhD programs…

One, I think it’s a bit of a biased account. Advantages at best recieve a couple of sentences. The Disadvantages recieve paragraphs. Correct me if I’m wrong but the author has in the past stated that he/she was in an MD/PhD program and didn’t seem too particularly happy with it. It’s hard to discern why anyone could possibly choose such a route from the article. Granted – this may often be the case for outsiders looking in. ;)In anycase, it might’ve worked better to have had two seperate viewpoints represented.

As a new MD/PhD student I for one can’t offer any opinions based upon experience and certainly have my own biases. I will say I agree with many of the points in the article but not the overall tone (and not all the points).

Certainly there are faster ways to get into the clinical or the research world, and the stipend alone should not be an attractor… but for some students the MD/PhD tract offers a unique opportunity to walk between two seperate worlds. The dissatisfactions or outcomes of some should not dissaude others from seeking input from a wide range of MD/PhD students at various stages in their education and at various institutions before making your decisions on what you want.

Programs are structured in a variety of ways and have differing requirements and stipends… (ie. few require GRE scores in my experience, stipends and tuition waivers vary, the division of medical and graduate coursework varies, etc )…

It’s late and I don’t know how much sense I’ve made but I’d love to discuss this further with anyone who’s interested.

Final words of caution – not ALL programs calling themselves an MSTP are NIH funded. Texas Tech is a notable example of this. When qouted a stipend always ask if tuition is waived, especially if it sounds too good to be true. 🙂

Moderator: As the author of the MD/PhD article let me first say that I loved my MD/PhD program. I went to UT Southwestern and completed my degrees 3 years ago. If what you love is the science of the body, you’ll love doing an MD/PhD. Medical school was challenging and exciting, and doing my PhD was the most worthwhile thing I’ve done from a personal standpoint.

That said, from the perspective of a few years out, it’s not clear how the dual degrees contribute to a long term career. In the end, if you’re thinking about doing a dual degree, follow Mudphud’s advice and get the perspective of a lot of people. The more people who contribute to the dialog, the better an idea you’ll have if an MD/PhD is right for you.

MUDPHUD: I interned and worked at UT Southwestern for several years, so that’s a funny coincidence. I’m not in their program, though.

I also wanted to add encouragement to anyone who has a strong research background and an interest in clinical research and medicine and is considering persuing an MD/PhD.

Like I said, talk to as many people as you can but ultimately make up your own mind. You will have people speaking pro and con from both camps – physicians and research scientists. You need to carefully think about why you want the MD/PhD instead of one or the other. You will have to write about this for your apps, and then you’ll be asked by countless interviewers the same questions. In my case, since I had a very strong research background I was constantly badgered about why I wanted the MD. So much so that sometimes it bordered on the absurd.

I’d love to hear someone else weigh in on this, on their experiences. One thing that I don’t think exists, that I think would serve a great purpose, would be a national MD/PhD student association. I don’t know maybe I should start one?


Continued in the next MD/PhD discussion

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