MD/PhD Program

I posted this thread earlier but I didn’t get any responses. I guess I posted in the wrong area. Anyway, I was interested in whether anybody with med school experience, preferably someone with experience with the MD/PhD program has any advice regarding the program. At the end of the program, what kinds of position can you expect to fill? What kind of jobs can you expect to get? Thanks.

Merlin, I don’t think there’s been an OPM yet to do MD/PhD. We’ve got some PhDs who hope to move on to MD but no one doing the combined programs as far as I know. Maybe they’ll come out of hiding…

I’m going to hazard a guess that not too many people do it. It seems like a whole lot of work (as of med school in of itself weren’t difficult enough). Well, it’s something to consider but it’s definitly not a wagon I’m just going to hop on.

The route to MD/PhD is very long and those that pursue it are mostly interested in a research career with some patient care. Most of these folks are 60/40 or 70/30 research/patient care. Most non-traditional that I know are mostly interested in patient care.

Also, the numbers to get into MD/PhD are even steeper…and you usually need a substantial amount of research experience.

Yeah, I don’t have a lot of research experience. I’m hoping to get a lot of research experience during my undergrad years. But, I’m not really sure to push for MD/PhD, as I’ve already got my work cut out for me to get my MD.

You’ll have to investigate the different MD/PhD programs out there. I believe some schools accept people into the PhD program during the first year or two of medical school, while others make it a joint thing that you apply for together. I have heard of people who applied for MD/PhD programs being accepted for the MD portion but not for the combined program. At my school, the MD/PhD is highly competitive with only 6 - 8 students a year accepted (I forget the exact number). The mudphuds work extremely hard, and although I envy the fact that they will have no medical school debt (they get tuition paid as well as a stipend for living expenses), I certainly don’t envy the work that they put in.

Mudphuds? haha! That’s a fantastic name! I didn’t know that your tuition expenses were covered AND you got a stipend. That’s awesome. That would help me and my wife, considered that by the time I’m ready for med school, we’ll have to have switched gears and she would be working full time.

You do know that a PhD isn’t required. I work and have worked in research for 11 years with plenty of scientists who “only” have a MD. You really have to decide why you would want to. Is it really worth the extra effort? Is it worth it to your family? While you do get a stipend understand that it is a minimal amount. You do not break $18k in many places. The average I’ve seen is about $15k.

You really have to decide if all the extra time is worth it in the end. All the PhD’s I know wished they had instead gotten a MD. None of the MD’s wish they had gotten PhD’s. Those who have both degrees are only impressive if their science is publishable otherwise they are just highly credentialed dead weight.

With the amount of research experience that med schools want for their MD/PhD programs it’s a wonder anyone even bothers. Keep in mind that what carries weight is not how many years in research but how many journal publications have your name. If you have one with first authorship you’ve got the golden ticket. Now good luck finding a PI or department to allow a tech to have 1st authorship.

We have a few MD/PhD’s… they simply impress me. I was close with one of the young guys going through it, he was in my microscope group in CTB, I was never able to get my arms around the depth and breadth of his intellectual power.

I always felt pretty lucky just to be there while he was able to participate in research projects CONCURRENTLY with the regular M1 M2 stuff!

Without question the mudphuds are impressive. I have not dealt with them as a medical student but as a research tech. The intellectual prowess they come in with is astounding. However my focus is on down the road, years removed from school what it turns into and whether or not it was worth the effort. I mean I plan to earn a PhD or ThD but not in science so it doesn’t “count” in this discussion.

  • croooz Said:
I mean I plan to earn a PhD or ThD but not in science so it doesn't "count" in this discussion.

Of course a "nontraditional" PhD counts.

OP, I turned down an MD/PhD acceptance (for personal reasons at age 34) 7 years ago and plan to reapply MD/PhD within the next couple years.

Right now, I'm in Master's prgram in Pharmacology and back to doing cancer research. For the past 2 summers, I've enrolled in the medical school taking classes with medical students (with permission of both the med school and the grad school who are very aware of and supportive of my long term goals). So I guess you could say I'm hedgeing my bets with getting in this particular school, and so far, so good. We'll see what happens when I submit my "real" application.
  • Mary Renard Said:
Merlin, I don't think there's been an OPM yet to do MD/PhD. We've got some PhDs who hope to move on to MD but no one doing the combined programs as far as I know. Maybe they'll come out of hiding....

That would be me.

OP, I'm a PhD currently in my second year of med school. Not sure what else to say that people haven't already said (i.e., about not needing a PhD to do research), but I'd be happy to try to answer any questions you have if I can.
  • medeirosaurus Said:
At the end of the program, what kinds of position can you expect to fill? What kind of jobs can you expect to get? Thanks.

Here are some of the things folks I know personally are doing with MD/PhD's:

1) After residency, private practice Peds.

2) No residency, did a post doc and is now a high paying exec at a big, BIG pharma co.

3) No residency, did a Post doc, and is now emeritas univ prof at a major cancer center.

4) After residency/fellowship, private practice in Derm.

5) After residency, high ranking administrator at the NCI.

6) Residency, fellowship, and now a Medical Officer at the NIH. Does research about 25% of the time.

Personally, I think the beauty of the MD/PhD is that if you stay in a scientific or medical field, you'll be in very high demand no matter which path you choose. Equally important, not one of them ever expressed regret at having earned the both degrees.