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Advantages of Completing an MD/PhD or Masters


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What are the advantages, disadvantages, and benefits to completing a PhD or masters in conjunction with your MD? Does it offer advantages in the future? I was considering doing the MD/PhD program but I don't really have a desire at this point to do lab work/research. Are there other things you can do with your MD/PhD?

 

I would be open to hearing advice from anyone who decided to do the program or the reasons people decided to not do it. 

 

Thanks everyone!

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Uhhhh don't do an MD/PhD if you don't want to do lab work/research. From what I understand, having an MD/PhD allows you to lead your own lab in the future. Most MD/PhDs do translational research, which is basic science that has potential clinical implications. Having an MD/PhD can make you a more competitive applicant for sough-after residencies and future jobs at academic centres. 

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If you wish to complete a masters or PhD, it’s much smarter to do it after residency during your fellowship. That way you’re sure that it will be applicable to your specialty and area of interest versus if you do it during medical school. The best part however is that you can get paid a pretty generous salary to do it. In some provinces you get a fellow’s income while completing your degree, which can be close to 100k, and have few or even no clinical responsibilities outside of call. You can also be sure wether you event want to pursue a graduate degree or not.

Doing a PhD to be more competitive for a certain residency is overkill imo. Just do well on your rotations, be likeable, try to make connections with staff and residents at your home program early (M1/M2 years, people forget how important this is, especially in small fields) and have a few publications.

 

 

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  • 1 month later...

I considered it, and I'm glad I didn't do it. For one thing, your medical training will be drawn out longer, which delays your earning potential (and I did 7 years of postgrad training so it was delayed enough as it is!). I had just finished my M.Sc. when I applied to med school and I wasn't loving bench research - that's a big clue. Having said that, I now do research (clinical, not lab) as part of my academic medicine career and I can apply for all the same grants as a PhD or MD/PhD can. 

If you are very keen to be a scientist though, a PhD might be worth the long haul. 

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On 3/12/2020 at 8:19 AM, -JAG- said:

If you wish to complete a masters or PhD, it’s much smarter to do it after residency during your fellowship. That way you’re sure that it will be applicable to your specialty and area of interest versus if you do it during medical school. The best part however is that you can get paid a pretty generous salary to do it. In some provinces you get a fellow’s income while completing your degree, which can be close to 100k, and have few or even no clinical responsibilities outside of call. You can also be sure wether you event want to pursue a graduate degree or not.

Doing a PhD to be more competitive for a certain residency is overkill imo. Just do well on your rotations, be likeable, try to make connections with staff and residents at your home program early (M1/M2 years, people forget how important this is, especially in small fields) and have a few publications.

 

 

Is it common for schools or fellowship programs to allow doing a PhD at the same time? If not, could you name a few so I can look up more information. Thanks a lot

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18 hours ago, 011235813 said:

Clinician Investigator Program- Allows you to do a graduate degree along with residency or fellowship. Usually an MSc, but I know a bunch who did a PhD instead. (It's my goal :))

Nearly every school has one.

Thanks very much for your reply. After researching a bit more about CIP, I feel I should not consider doing md-phd:D One question is did you know the difference between applying for CIP residency program directly and do CIP after matching to a regular residency (in terms of funding, length, leave of absence)? Are they equally competitive? Thanks.

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16 minutes ago, Mira said:

Thanks very much for your reply. After researching a bit more about CIP, I feel I should not consider doing md-phd:D One question is did you know the difference between applying for CIP residency program directly and do CIP after matching to a regular residency (in terms of funding, length, leave of absence)? Are they equally competitive? Thanks.

In terms of direct through CARMS CIP programs, I know of 4:

1. Plastic Surgery CIP (UBC)

2. Pediatrics CIP (Mac)

3. Anesthesia CIP (Toronto)

4. Psychiatry Research Track (CIP) (UBC)

There used to be a Radiology one but I cannot find it on CARMS anymore :(

These programs are hard to judge in terms of competitiveness. I'd imagine the pool is quite narrow, but I'd imagine substantial research productivity would be a serious element of an application if not a pre-requisite to even having a shot. 

For the Pediatrics CIP at Mac for example, the program says that "We work closely with the CIP program to allow you to complete both programs in a 5 year time period.", which is shorter than a regular CIP (usually tacks on AT LEAST 2 years to your program). 

The Anesthesia CIP at Toronto says you are expected to complete your training in 6 years, so this would be 1 year shorter than doing a regular CIP.

The UBC Psychiatry Program says this: "The resident may complete a Master’s degree by graduation, or may switch or enroll in a PhD program and continue research training as a PGY6 and PGY7 through the Royal College/UBC Clinician Investigator Program (CIP)." which seems to say if you wish to do a PhD, you may end up doing 7 years, which is standard for a CIP. However, an important note is that CIP residents frequently need 3-4 years to complete their PhD, so this may still save some time. 

UBC Plastics CIP: "The program is 5 years of clinical plastic surgery and 2 years of within Clinician Investigator Program (7 year program), with graduation from medical school the academic pre-requisite.  There are 2 cores years and 3 years of plastic surgery.  The CIP will be after the first 2 years." 

These appear to be the current direct entry CIP programs on CARMS for now. This could change in the next few years. 

For regular CIP: you match to your program at whichever school, THEN you apply for CIP. It usually helps to make contact with the PD for CIP earlier, to discuss your goals and ensure that he/she knows you intend to apply to the program. Most people I know who completed CIP entered their grad degree between PGY2 and PGY3, took 2-4 years and did their MSc or PhD, then re-entered for PGY3. As you are enrolled in the CIP for direct entry programs and the regular CIP option, it appears that funding will be similar, although take this with a grain of salt as none of these specialties interested me in med school, so I didn't apply to any of these. 

In terms of competitiveness, this would probably depend on the year, pool of applicants, and other factors. None of these direct entry programs are in non-competitive fields, so entry into these programs is unlikely to be "easy" per se.

AFAIK, in order to officially join a CIP, you need to be in an RCPSC specialty. Family med has its own Clinician Scientist program from what I can tell, but I don't know much about this. I've been told it's not a popular option for most. See: Toronto CSP program.

So lots of options. Just gotta pick the one that's right for you. 

I should say, I completely understand your current choice of not doing MD/PhD as that's the choice I made. I'd advise you to speak to your mentors about this. They may have a very different take than I have (and my mentors at the time of my medical school application had-I chose not to apply MD/PhD and planned on doing CIP from day 1 of medical school. I still do)

:D

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1 hour ago, 011235813 said:

In terms of direct through CARMS CIP programs, I know of 4:

1. Plastic Surgery CIP (UBC)

2. Pediatrics CIP (Mac)

3. Anesthesia CIP (Toronto)

4. Psychiatry Research Track (CIP) (UBC)

There used to be a Radiology one but I cannot find it on CARMS anymore :(

These programs are hard to judge in terms of competitiveness. I'd imagine the pool is quite narrow, but I'd imagine substantial research productivity would be a serious element of an application if not a pre-requisite to even having a shot. 

For the Pediatrics CIP at Mac for example, the program says that "We work closely with the CIP program to allow you to complete both programs in a 5 year time period.", which is shorter than a regular CIP (usually tacks on AT LEAST 2 years to your program). 

The Anesthesia CIP at Toronto says you are expected to complete your training in 6 years, so this would be 1 year shorter than doing a regular CIP.

The UBC Psychiatry Program says this: "The resident may complete a Master’s degree by graduation, or may switch or enroll in a PhD program and continue research training as a PGY6 and PGY7 through the Royal College/UBC Clinician Investigator Program (CIP)." which seems to say if you wish to do a PhD, you may end up doing 7 years, which is standard for a CIP. However, an important note is that CIP residents frequently need 3-4 years to complete their PhD, so this may still save some time. 

UBC Plastics CIP: "The program is 5 years of clinical plastic surgery and 2 years of within Clinician Investigator Program (7 year program), with graduation from medical school the academic pre-requisite.  There are 2 cores years and 3 years of plastic surgery.  The CIP will be after the first 2 years." 

These appear to be the current direct entry CIP programs on CARMS for now. This could change in the next few years. 

For regular CIP: you match to your program at whichever school, THEN you apply for CIP. It usually helps to make contact with the PD for CIP earlier, to discuss your goals and ensure that he/she knows you intend to apply to the program. Most people I know who completed CIP entered their grad degree between PGY2 and PGY3, took 2-4 years and did their MSc or PhD, then re-entered for PGY3. As you are enrolled in the CIP for direct entry programs and the regular CIP option, it appears that funding will be similar, although take this with a grain of salt as none of these specialties interested me in med school, so I didn't apply to any of these. 

In terms of competitiveness, this would probably depend on the year, pool of applicants, and other factors. None of these direct entry programs are in non-competitive fields, so entry into these programs is unlikely to be "easy" per se.

AFAIK, in order to officially join a CIP, you need to be in an RCPSC specialty. Family med has its own Clinician Scientist program from what I can tell, but I don't know much about this. I've been told it's not a popular option for most. See: Toronto CSP program.

So lots of options. Just gotta pick the one that's right for you. 

I should say, I completely understand your current choice of not doing MD/PhD as that's the choice I made. I'd advise you to speak to your mentors about this. They may have a very different take than I have (and my mentors at the time of my medical school application had-I chose not to apply MD/PhD and planned on doing CIP from day 1 of medical school. I still do)

:D

Your information helped a lot. As a premed waiting for admission decisions, I don't have a mentor but I hope to figure things out early and start doing research from day 1 of medical school.:D

Actually Pediatrics CIP and Psychiatry CIP are on my list of interest. I imagine we should do as much research as we can, preferably at the schools we are shooting for residency? From my understanding, applying to 2 or 3 competitive and backup specialties would increase the chance of successful residency match. Does that mean I should aim to be productive in these 2 to 3 research areas to support my CIP applications (direct or regular)? I appreciate you advice.

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On 4/21/2020 at 7:30 PM, Mira said:

Is it common for schools or fellowship programs to allow doing a PhD at the same time? If not, could you name a few so I can look up more information. Thanks a lot

Experimental Surgery at Mcgill is the program I’m most familiar with. It can lead to either a Masters or PhD. Other universities in Quebec also offer it, sometimes under the surgeon scientist name. It’s usually done during residency, but I’ve heard of fellows doing it as well in some circumstances. CIP is another alternative, but that’s already been explained in detail here.

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