I am new to these forums and just had some questions. I am a sophomore/pre-med student majoring in neuroscience (specifically neuropsych). I was wondering if I choose not to continue pre-med what else could I do. I then thought of possibly getting a PHD and doing research, but I really had no clue about PHDs or how research in the medical field works. Can I do good research without an MD? Is a PHD a viable route for someone who doesnt want to be come a medical doctor? I am not even sure if I am in the right spot to ask this question, but I hope you guys can help. Thanks!
Ph.D. is a research degree, and MD is a clinical degree. Your premed background is excellent preparation to go into a doctoral (Ph.D.) program if you prefer to go that route. There are many Ph.D.'s on the faculty of medical schools. A third option is the MD/Ph.D. path if that is of interest to you. All the best.
Research also comes in two flavors-- clinical and basic science. Clinical research comprises things like drug trials or prospective (looking ahead) studies of a specific treatments for a disease. Basic science research typically involves “bench research” that includes topics at the molecular level, animal studies, etc. In the neurology department here, there is an entire section of PhDs that do neuro-behavioral research, including everything from evaluating functional MRIs to patient interviews in patient’s with certain dysfunctions. This is just a generalization to help you get the idea. There are definitely lots of places for someone with a PhD in neuroscience who doesn’t necessarily want to do the daily clinical care that an MD does.
Thanks a lot guys. I am glad to know I can still do good research with out being a medical doctor.
Another generalization from my experience -
PhD - the science and theory behind the problem
MD - the application of the science
Essentially the way I look at it the PhD researcher specializes in creating the knowledge and the MD (or engineer for that matter) learns the application of that knowledge.
Knowing what I know after 20+ years in research, I wouldn’t get a PhD without also earning a clinical degree (MD, DO, PharmD ect) if they were giving them away. The PhD “market” sucks especially now with the economy being in a depression (sorry, I don’t but the recession arguement), and almost every PhD I know who finished in recent years doesn’t do research at all. Many PhD’s do MULTIPLE posts docs before landing one of the precious few academic positions and for many types of medical research, you’ll have to have an MD on board anyway to “sign off” on your work so to speak.
And for the record, my area of speciality is in Neuropathology/Tramautic Brain Injury at a major academic institution.