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medisforme

Why is MD considered more prestigious than PhD?

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First, I have not read ALL the responses to this post. So pardon me if some of what I say has already been said.

 

People may choose to complete an MD rather than a PhD for so many reasons...not sure if prestige is a leading reason for choosing an MD over a PhD though. I think if you ask most people doing clinical work, it is the contact with people and the ability to directly help them that lead them in that path.

 

Society certainly respects physicians...but I wouldn't say "more" than profs. Perhaps the respect is more easily given to the physician...I think that is because their work is seen by everyone, understood by everyone, and easily measurable. Those in academia may be super intelligent, but that doesn't mean that their work translates into anything that is an immediate and measurable contribution to society. And so...they have to work hard for acknowledgement (and also for pay...academics who are productive can earn a very nice living). Also, not alot of what those do in academia is understood or appreciated by the layperson.

 

Physicians are called "doctor" not because they are "able to diagnose medical conditions" but because it is a courtesy title that is derived from the latin docere, which means to teach. Physicians in the past were quite learned teachers and many still are today. This is the reason PhDs are also referred to as doctors...since they are teachers. Unfortunately, the word doctor has evolved to pretty much mean physician to many laypeople. In fact, I have had many pts comment on their frustration in trying to find "doctor" in the yellow pages only to find out they need to search under "physician". So while the term doctor has its origins as a courtesy title, it means something a bit more to some people today. This is why the use of the term doctor in health care settings is restricted...so as not to confuse people.

 

Your post seems to imply that all PhDs are hard workers...perhaps harder workers than MDs...and therefore deserve the same if not more perceived respect than MDs. Well, being an MD is not a walk in the park. Further, there are many PhDs out there who's degrees aren`t worth the paper it's written on. Sure, there are excellent PhDs but there are bad ones too. This is true for MDs as well...there are good ones and bad ones. The difference though, is if you aren`t a competent MD, you will kill someone.

 

So you get to be called "doctor" after an MD or a PhD...but the jobs are very different. It is rather difficult to compare the two, and frankly rather pointless.

 

If you are trying to chose between one or the other, just be sure to understand the pros and cons to both. But don`t base your decision on perceived prestige. And realize that no matter the route chosen, you will have to work hard.

 

 

 

I always wondered why so many more people want to be an MD than get a PhD. Even in society physicians are one of the most respected professions, much more so than uni profs etc...

I only discovered a few months ago that an MD degree is "only" considered an undergraduate degree in canada (ie. on par with a bachelors; btw in most of the world you are granted a bachelors of medicine degree. Apparently, the only reason you are called doctor is because you are able to diagnose medical conditions). Furthermore, in MD training, unless you are a complete idiot, you will eventually get your degree no matter what due to the fact that schools give a fair amount of leeway with grades (ie. you don't flunk out of med school if your flunk an exam, you always get a 2nd chance) and in a clinical setting you will always have someone above you watching your back (to varying extents, depending on your level of training) and making sure you don't kill someone (ie. you are constantly supervised).

Whereas with a PhD you are working a lot more independantly, and in my opinion doing a lot more critical thinking (as opposed to constantly following a memorized protocal from memorized S&S's etc...) and the timeline of training is basically the same as a primary care physician.

Also, there is no guarantee that all the work you put in will = a PhD (unlike med school where hard work will always pay off). My bio prof has more than one story of grad colleagues who put in between 3-5 years of research only to see their experiments fail and wind up with nothing (with PhD, unlike a Masters, no results = no degree).

Moreover, i think the learning material is at least equal in difficulty between the two streams (my chem prof showed us what he was required to memorize in his PhD program regarding michaelis-menten enzyme kinetics before he could begin his research, and it was totally disgusting).

I think maybe that is the reason sometimes why profs seem a little turned off at students asking for LOR for med school etc...

I just think very few people appreciate the work that goes into a PhD and how it is easily on par with an MD but they make a lot less money and get less respect, less prestige.

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"Interesting food for thought, a flight controller will have more lives in their hand in one shift than a surgeon will in their entire career...."

 

True.... but do you only accept passengers who are dying or sick?

 

...what? An air traffic controller controls thousands of planes flying in a limited air space... they don't "accept" anyone, they just regulate the traffic to avoid crashes... and there are probably lots of sick and dying among the hundreds of thousands of passengers that they monitor a day :cool:

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First, I have not read ALL the responses to this post. So pardon me if some of what I say has already been said.

 

People may choose to complete an MD rather than a PhD for so many reasons...not sure if prestige is a leading reason for choosing an MD over a PhD though. I think if you ask most people doing clinical work, it is the contact with people and the ability to directly help them that lead them in that path.

 

Society certainly respects physicians...but I wouldn't say "more" than profs. Perhaps the respect is more easily given to the physician...I think that is because their work is seen by everyone, understood by everyone, and easily measurable. Those in academia may be super intelligent, but that doesn't mean that their work translates into anything that is an immediate and measurable contribution to society. And so...they have to work hard for acknowledgement (and also for pay...academics who are productive can earn a very nice living). Also, not alot of what those do in academia is understood or appreciated by the layperson.

 

Physicians are called "doctor" not because they are "able to diagnose medical conditions" but because it is a courtesy title that is derived from the latin docere, which means to teach. Physicians in the past were quite learned teachers and many still are today. This is the reason PhDs are also referred to as doctors...since they are teachers. Unfortunately, the word doctor has evolved to pretty much mean physician to many laypeople. In fact, I have had many pts comment on their frustration in trying to find "doctor" in the yellow pages only to find out they need to search under "physician". So while the term doctor has its origins as a courtesy title, it means something a bit more to some people today. This is why the use of the term doctor in health care settings is restricted...so as not to confuse people.

 

Your post seems to imply that all PhDs are hard workers...perhaps harder workers than MDs...and therefore deserve the same if not more perceived respect than MDs. Well, being an MD is not a walk in the park. Further, there are many PhDs out there who's degrees aren`t worth the paper it's written on. Sure, there are excellent PhDs but there are bad ones too. This is true for MDs as well...there are good ones and bad ones. The difference though, is if you aren`t a competent MD, you will kill someone.

 

So you get to be called "doctor" after an MD or a PhD...but the jobs are very different. It is rather difficult to compare the two, and frankly rather pointless.

 

If you are trying to chose between one or the other, just be sure to understand the pros and cons to both. But don`t base your decision on perceived prestige. And realize that no matter the route chosen, you will have to work hard.

 

Beautifully said...it's like comparing apples and oranges both equally good in their own way (permitting that you like apples and oranges that is).

 

Kind regards,

 

Dr. E77

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MD is more prestigious than PhD because the pay is on average much, much higher. Nobody cares about the "ranking" of a degree if the pay potential is at least triple if not more. Also, medical doctors tend to have a greater locus of direct impact on society compared to PhD's, although this can be debated. A medical degree is a technical degree used for real-world application, it is not a research degree. Therefore, "technically", it is lower than a PhD on the degree level. However, in North America, it is certainly higher than a bachelor's and even a master's, as it first requires an undergraduate degree in order to qualify for. You are not allowed to practice as a physician without having at least two degrees anyway. In my opinion surgeons and doctors are on par with PhD's in terms of educational attainment - they were in school just as long, although their degree may not be considered as "high" in the research branches. 

Losers in the trades and community colleges will try to dispute this though. They are just salty that they'll be stuck working bottomfeeder jobs for the rest of their lives and that real university students are enlightened to a better future. 

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On 4/25/2008 at 4:44 PM, Jamer said:

As long as we're on the topic, I don't really consider my family doctor more prestigious than someone who just won a Nobel Prize and [probably] had a phD

Most doctors in Canada are not family doctors. A neurosurgeon is far more prestigious than a family doctor, and is on par with a PhD-level Nobel Prize Winner in terms of respect and net worth. Medicine is a huge field, it heavily depends on what kind of doctor you're talking about.

Nobody does a PhD for money or for bragging rights. It is only for those with passion in the field of which they are studying, and especially fields which REQUIRE doctoral degrees in order to make a decent living (such as neuroscience). A PhD is incredibly detail-specific with very little scope and is intended for strictly research (and professor lecturing) purposes. 

In the real world, it's not the people with the highest IQ that make the most money. Those who think in pragmatic terms and get an education which allows them to receive technical skills are thinking in terms of job security and income investment first and foremost. Yeah, if you're Elon Musk you turn into a billionaire, but the average 150 IQ individual is stuck teaching physics at a mid-tier university making no more than $100,000 a year. Western society does not value true intelligence, it values whatever generates the most income. 

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Wow. Reviving a 12 yearthread to call an entire subset of Canadians "losers" and peddle falsehoods. 

46 minutes ago, Hakann said:

MD is more prestigious than PhD because the pay is on average much, much higher. Nobody cares about the "ranking" of a degree if the pay potential is at least triple if not more. Also, medical doctors tend to have a greater locus of direct impact on society compared to PhD's, although this can be debated. A medical degree is a technical degree used for real-world application, it is not a research degree. Therefore, "technically", it is lower than a PhD on the degree level. However, in North America, it is certainly higher than a bachelor's and even a master's, as it first requires an undergraduate degree in order to qualify for. You are not allowed to practice as a physician without having at least two degrees anyway. In my opinion surgeons and doctors are on par with PhD's in terms of educational attainment - they were in school just as long, although their degree may not be considered as "high" in the research branches. 

Losers in the trades and community colleges will try to dispute this though. They are just salty that they'll be stuck working bottomfeeder jobs for the rest of their lives and that real university students are enlightened to a better future. 

Trying to assign "value" to degrees is, for the most part, pointless. Does a MD have a bigger societal impact than the average philosophy BA? Sure, but everyone fits into the puzzle somewhere. Also, the bold portions are incorrect. You do not need "two degrees" to be a Canadian physician. 

I'm not even going to get into how calling trades and community college graduates "losers" is a symptom of one of our great societal flaws; the habit of placing university education on an undeserved pedestal. Trades are the very foundation of our country, from building the building you're (presumably) comfortably sharing your thoughts in, to generating economic activity. Different people, different strengths. I have friends in the trades and I'd never trade my white collar backup route/Medicine for their trades, and they wouldn't trade with me. We've had the discussions, and I've worked in trades-adjacent jobs. We understand that we each play a role and what you do for the rest of your life is a matter of personal preferences and aptitudes. If being a machinist is great for someone, awesome. If someone else wants to spend the day staring at spreadsheets, awesome. It's hard work that is incredibly rewarding and impactful. Also, community colleges are a key part of social mobility, an excellent thing, and guess what, many healthcare providers get their degrees from community colleges. I don't think any physician who tells an LPN or healthcare aid they're a "loser" or in a "bottomfeeder" job is going to last very long.  

22 minutes ago, Hakann said:

Most doctors in Canada are not family doctors. A neurosurgeon is far more prestigious than a family doctor, and is on par with a PhD-level Nobel Prize Winner in terms of respect and net worth. Medicine is a huge field, it heavily depends on what kind of doctor you're talking about.

Nobody does a PhD for money or for bragging rights. It is only for those with passion in the field of which they are studying, and especially fields which REQUIRE doctoral degrees in order to make a decent living (such as neuroscience). A PhD is incredibly detail-specific with very little scope and is intended for strictly research (and professor lecturing) purposes. 

In the real world, it's not the people with the highest IQ that make the most money. Those who think in pragmatic terms and get an education which allows them to receive technical skills are thinking in terms of job security and income investment first and foremost. Yeah, if you're Elon Musk you turn into a billionaire, but the average 150 IQ individual is stuck teaching physics at a mid-tier university making no more than $100,000 a year. Western society does not value true intelligence, it values whatever generates the most income. 

"Nationally, the proportion of family medicine and specialist physicians has remained relatively equal since the late 1970s, with family medicine physicians representing between 50% and 53% of the physician workforce." https://www.cihi.ca/sites/default/files/document/physicians-in-canada-2018.pdf

If someone loves research/teaching and wants to spend years of their life doing a PhD all the power to them. It's not for me. Notions of prestige are overrated in comparison to doing something you can see yourself doing for a long career. It's also extremely arbitrary. 

I'm not going to even address the quips on money, IQ, and intelligence. 

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45 minutes ago, MedicineLCS said:

Wow. Reviving a 12 yearthread to call an entire subset of Canadians "losers" and peddle falsehoods. 

Trying to assign "value" to degrees is, for the most part, pointless. Does a MD have a bigger societal impact than the average philosophy BA? Sure, but everyone fits into the puzzle somewhere. Also, the bold portions are incorrect. You do not need "two degrees" to be a Canadian physician. 

I'm not even going to get into how calling trades and community college graduates "losers" is a symptom of one of our great societal flaws; the habit of placing university education on an undeserved pedestal. Trades are the very foundation of our country, from building the building you're (presumably) comfortably sharing your thoughts in, to generating economic activity. Different people, different strengths. I have friends in the trades and I'd never trade my white collar backup route/Medicine for their trades, and they wouldn't trade with me. We've had the discussions, and I've worked in trades-adjacent jobs. We understand that we each play a role and what you do for the rest of your life is a matter of personal preferences and aptitudes. If being a machinist is great for someone, awesome. If someone else wants to spend the day staring at spreadsheets, awesome. It's hard work that is incredibly rewarding and impactful. Also, community colleges are a key part of social mobility, an excellent thing, and guess what, many healthcare providers get their degrees from community colleges. I don't think any physician who tells an LPN or healthcare aid they're a "loser" or in a "bottomfeeder" job is going to last very long.  

"Nationally, the proportion of family medicine and specialist physicians has remained relatively equal since the late 1970s, with family medicine physicians representing between 50% and 53% of the physician workforce." https://www.cihi.ca/sites/default/files/document/physicians-in-canada-2018.pdf

If someone loves research/teaching and wants to spend years of their life doing a PhD all the power to them. It's not for me. Notions of prestige are overrated in comparison to doing something you can see yourself doing for a long career. It's also extremely arbitrary. 

I'm not going to even address the quips on money, IQ, and intelligence. 

Hello, yes, I'd like to report a murder

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I'm super offended by the "losers in the trades" comment. My whole family is in the trades and they all have a passion for what they do. They're all smart in their own way: plumbing, construction and bricklaying. Some have gone on to build great businesses with literally their bare hands. I'd like to see who you call when you cant fix a lightbulb.

2 hours ago, Hakann said:

Losers in the trades and community colleges will try to dispute this though

 

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2 hours ago, Hakann said:

A neurosurgeon is far more prestigious than a family doctor, and is on par with a PhD-level Nobel Prize Winner in terms of respect and net worth.

I'm sorry, but in what world is an average neurosurgeon on par with a Nobel laureate? Are you aware of what it takes to win a Nobel prize? You have to make a difference in human society that will greatly impact millions of people (in many cases, all of humanity) for generations to come. You can't seriously be comparing the likes of Watson & Crick, Albert Einstein, Mother Teresa, and Martin Luther King Jr. to a random neurosurgeon....

The one exception to this may be the Nobel peace prize which in some cases is very politically-driven, but in the context of the Nobel prize in physiology or medicine (or most Nobel prizes really), it is an achievement of gargantuan proportions.

 

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3 hours ago, Hakann said:

Most doctors in Canada are not family doctors. A neurosurgeon is far more prestigious than a family doctor, and is on par with a PhD-level Nobel Prize Winner in terms of respect and net worth. Medicine is a huge field, it heavily depends on what kind of doctor you're talking about.

Nobody does a PhD for money or for bragging rights. It is only for those with passion in the field of which they are studying, and especially fields which REQUIRE doctoral degrees in order to make a decent living (such as neuroscience). A PhD is incredibly detail-specific with very little scope and is intended for strictly research (and professor lecturing) purposes. 

In the real world, it's not the people with the highest IQ that make the most money. Those who think in pragmatic terms and get an education which allows them to receive technical skills are thinking in terms of job security and income investment first and foremost. Yeah, if you're Elon Musk you turn into a billionaire, but the average 150 IQ individual is stuck teaching physics at a mid-tier university making no more than $100,000 a year. Western society does not value true intelligence, it values whatever generates the most income. 

 

"A neurosurgeon is far more prestigious than a family doctor, and is on par with a PhD-level Nobel Prize Winner in terms of respect and net worth"

MemeAtlas

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11 hours ago, Hakann said:

A neurosurgeon is far more prestigious than a family doctor, and is on par with a PhD-level Nobel Prize Winner in terms of respect and net worth.

Do you actually believe that the average neurosurgeon is on a par with a PhD-level NOBEL PRIZE WINNER? lmao

With all due respect, do you even know what “Nobel prize” means?!
This gotta be the most delusional statement I have seen in years.

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8 hours ago, MorePrestigiousThanHakann said:

 

"A neurosurgeon is far more prestigious than a family doctor, and is on par with a PhD-level Nobel Prize Winner in terms of respect and net worth"

MemeAtlas

Your username killed me Lmao

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LOL what a troll.

On a more serious note, within Canada and US, MD does seem to carry a bit more status/prestige in certain industries. For example, in consulting and finance groups that look to hire someone with a scientific background, MD and PhD are considered equivalent. There are a few groups that exclusively look for MDs and won't consider PhDs in my experience, although this is usually because say the managing director/partner has an MD him or herself. Outside of Canada and US, PhD starts to earn more prestige for similar positions cause people don't know what an MD really signifies. E.g. when I looked into consulting and finance in Europe and Asia, my MD was ranked much less desirable than a PhD in biological sciences.

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I'm about to finish a PhD and start med school, so here's my 2 cents. 

On 4/26/2008 at 5:22 PM, Time said:

Something else to think about is the fact that someone with a PhD or a commonly thought of researcher is probably someone you'd consider to be making groundbreaking discoveries/inventions or significant research/providing new knowledge for the human race (maybe exaggerated, but obviously so are many perceptions of MDs).

Time is right to say that many discoveries are found by people without PhD. But more importantly, think of how many people with a PhD will NEVER discover or invent anything that is slightly relevant not only to non-initiated people, but even within their own field of study. And this is true within science, not only in humanities. I can't help but think that there's a huge part of academia that seems so disconnected it only acts as a self-licking cone (publishing research to add papers in your resume to get more funding). Just ask any PhD student out there to talk about their dissertation, and you'll find so many people with amazingly pointless research that will still earn them a PhD. I suspect many students go on to pursue a PhD and waste years researching a topic to delay their entry into the job market. School is all they've ever known and it seems like a safe place for them, especially with widely available graduate grants and scholarships.

Now please don't think that I put all PhDs in the same basket. Most are obviously amazing people. I just want to point out that there's a massive difference between having a PhD and being a university professor or researcher doing groundbreaking research.

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22 hours ago, Dodo said:

 I can't help but think that there's a huge part of academia that seems so disconnected it only acts as a self-licking cone (publishing research to add papers in your resume to get more funding). 

Yup. This is so true. I saw this every day as a grad student myself. 

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11 minutes ago, premed72 said:

Yup. This is so true. I saw this every day as a grad student myself. 

It's because if you don't publish = you don't get paid

It's the way the system works. Long-term tough projects are not too appreciated unfortunately. You gotta show results ASAP which is dumb

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2 minutes ago, dooogs said:

It's because if you don't publish = you don't get paid

It's the way the system works. Long-term tough projects are not too appreciated unfortunately. You gotta show results ASAP which is dumb

that isn't much different than many other people in other industries. It isn't something localized to solely academia. 

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