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I was going through a list of information online about the advantages/ disadvantages of pursuing a PhD if you are dead certain about entering the field of academic neurosurgery.

A curious trend I observed is that, it is possible to receive a PhD in neurosurgery while doing your residency. One of the big examples I can think of is Dr Michael G. Fehlings who is the Krembil Chair in Neural Repair & Regeneration at U of T.  More info: http://neurosurgery.utoronto.ca/faculty/list/fehlings.htm

How would one compare/ contrast this with the more traditional MD/PhD curriculum in terms of duration of the program? I ask this because I am wondering if a post-doctral fellowship ensues after a residency or if one has substantial research experience during both med, residency, and fellowship the post-doc is not mandatory? 

 

(Note: I made a similar post in the U of T med forum, but I was not sure where was most appropriate to make the post. I apologize in advance for any inconveniences.)

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Not speaking from personal experience but do know someone who did a PhD during their neurosurgery residency (at UofT). They finished their PhD in less than 3 years, and then went back to finish their neurosurgery residency.

UofT neurosurgery encourages their residents to get involved in research / pursue a PhD. It's highly valuable to a neurosurgeon as the field is rapidly progressing with new technology and a better understanding of the brain.  I can't remember if a year of their PhD counted towards their training or not. 

The advantage to doing a PhD during residency is that you've already accumulated substantial knowledge (foundational and clinical) as an MD to ask targeted research questions. As a MD/PhD student, you're probably still exploring different specialties and haven't seen many medical cases of the disease you're working on. IMO if you're not passionate about research, leave the PhD to residency. Some might argue though that a MD/PhD is more competitive than MD when applying to neurosurgery residency programs. Just my two cents.

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MD/PhDs tend to have more rigorous or "legitimate" PhD training whereas doing it in residency you often get cut some slack in terms of project quality or coursework (for right or wrong, but mostly for wrong). That is why PhDs in residency are sometimes 2-3 years without even having a previous MSc. Not saying this is always the case, as there are obviously many who legitimately want to do research and put in the time honing those skills in a proper PhD. But if the PhD is just to meet minimum qualifications for a job as opposed to legitimate interest in pursuing a research career (i.e. many in neurosurgery), you can see why maybe residents and PDs are not so worried about skimming by on a PhD to get it out of the way as fast as possible as opposed to as good as possible.

Similar to the surgery resident on their IM rotation - they will get through it, but you can be certain they won't be using their electives to gain more experience in it than the bare bone minimum. 

If you know you want research, no matter what specialty you end up in, then do a MD/PhD. If it's dependent and conditional on what specialty you do, then do it in residency. 

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On 6/26/2017 at 4:52 PM, ZBL said:

MD/PhDs tend to have more rigorous or "legitimate" PhD training whereas doing it in residency you often get cut some slack in terms of project quality or coursework (for right or wrong, but mostly for wrong). That is why PhDs in residency are sometimes 2-3 years without even having a previous MSc. Not saying this is always the case, as there are obviously many who legitimately want to do research and put in the time honing those skills in a proper PhD. But if the PhD is just to meet minimum qualifications for a job as opposed to legitimate interest in pursuing a research career (i.e. many in neurosurgery), you can see why maybe residents and PDs are not so worried about skimming by on a PhD to get it out of the way as fast as possible as opposed to as good as possible.

Similar to the surgery resident on their IM rotation - they will get through it, but you can be certain they won't be using their electives to gain more experience in it than the bare bone minimum. 

If you know you want research, no matter what specialty you end up in, then do a MD/PhD. If it's dependent and conditional on what specialty you do, then do it in residency. 

This was simply brilliant. Thank you very much. 

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I'd go even further and say if you are planning on being more clinically focused in practice, I'd wait and do it during residency. I'd only consider an MD/phd if I was planning to be doing a lot more research work than clinical work. 

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I would also say that there are always opportunities throughout training to do research, no one will say no if you wanted to take time off to do research. If you decided that you wanted a basic science lab career, you could very easily do a PhD during residency and if you felt you needed more training, you could do a research fellowship. I find in real life, the problem is more the opposite, most people end up wanting to get through their training faster rather than slower as they get older. 

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