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Why is MD considered more prestigious than PhD?


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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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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 bigge

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

"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'd assume it's because getting into medical school, at least in Canada, is difficult, at least in terms of grades. While there are a few hoops to jump through, getting into a phD program isn't really very difficult as long as you have half decent grades.

 

Plus stereotypes help.

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Ok?

 

While I don't see where you're going with this, since when is a MD more "prestigeous" comapred to a PhD? And while we're on the topic, who cares which one is more prestigeous?

 

I don't see the reason to compare PhD with MD. The two are completely different. So great, a PhD is difficult - who says it isn't? Same with MD.

 

In the end, just do whatever floats your boat. For some, that might mean PhD, for others it's MD, and for most, there's a whole big world out there full of careers and opportunities that are just as fulfilling and rewarding and doesn't require a PhD or MD after your name.

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Ok?

 

While I don't see where you're going with this, since when is a MD more "prestigeous" comapred to a PhD? And while we're on the topic, who cares which one is more prestigeous?

 

I don't see the reason to compare PhD with MD. The two are completely different. So great, a PhD is difficult - who says it isn't? Same with MD.

 

In the end, just do whatever floats your boat. For some, that might mean PhD, for others it's MD, and for most, there's a whole big world out there full of careers and opportunities that are just as fulfilling and rewarding and doesn't require a PhD or MD after your name.

 

 

First off, its prestigious. Secondly, the point of the discussion was why MD's get a lot more respect from society despite the fact that they (MD vs. PhD) are both equally difficult to achieve. I am well aware of the fact that it doesn't matter what you choose to do with your life as long as you enjoy doing it (so you can save your patronizing cliches for your classmates).

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i think it all comes down to competitiveness, if its something that's more competitive, you're gonna have more respect for the individual who did it. and usually, money = competitiveness. You're gonna respect someone more who's gone to harvard vs. a Caribbean school, you're gonna respect an orthopedic surgeon more vs. a fp. Not saying that this should happen, nor that one is 'better' than the other, but the general respect society offers them. Same thing goes for nobel prize-winner vs. fp as said earlier. The harder it is to become that role, the more respect in general you'll get. When you discussed 'getting pHD vs getting an MD' as far as graduating, yes MD is more likely once you've entered the program, but the point is that is more competitive to 'enter' medicine.

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i think it all comes down to competitiveness, if its something that's more competitive, you're gonna have more respect for the individual who did it. and usually, money = competitiveness. You're gonna respect someone more who's gone to harvard vs. a Caribbean school, you're gonna respect an orthopedic surgeon more vs. a fp. Not saying that this should happen, nor that one is 'better' than the other, but the general respect society offers them. Same thing goes for nobel prize-winner vs. fp as said earlier. The harder it is to become that role, the more respect in general you'll get.

 

I think you've hit the nail on the head. Nobel prize winners, astronauts, olympic athletes, heck, even movie stars. People have a tendency to admire and respect those who have achieved things that are seen as very difficult to achieve. MD has a reputation (deservedly) for being a hard thing to get into,and thus a profession that only holds the best and brightest individuals. Kinda like getting into harvard law vs. a more run-of-the-mill law school. While grad school is easier to get into, it sounds to me like its very, very hard. I don't know if I could do it. (Of course, I'm not interested in research - big reason #1 not to pursue something.)

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It's a combo of money and exclusivity.

 

Money = MDs get paid more than PhDs, thus they are revered more.

 

Exclusivity = every university has grad school programs. Only certain ones have med school programs. Thus, med school, due to scarcity, is more competitive.

 

Just having one is not enough: I know guys working on the oil sands in Alberta who make as much if not more than some FPs. But its not an exclusive job, thus it doesn't hold much prestige.

 

Some art colleges are more exclusive than med school. But since most artists get paid nothing compared to a doctor, they are not held in as high regard.

 

 

Buffy pool is right too. Within medicine, the hardest-to-obtain fields are the ones with the highest pay-per-hour ratio: dermatology, ER, plastics, ENT, uro, radiology, eye. On the other end of the scale, any med grad with a pulse and reactive pupils can land an FP residency because FPs get paid FAR too little.

 

Hypothetically, how competitive do you think FP would become if they pay was increased to radiology levels? hmmmmm

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Hypothetically, how competitive do you think FP would become if they pay was increased to radiology levels? hmmmmm

 

I'd say it would make a big difference, definitely.

 

They have a tough and challenging job (you're gonna see some of everything, and be expected to know what it is) and the specialty can have decent hours and lifestyle, lots of patient contact with continuity of care... there's lots of great stuff there, and I agree that FP's are way underpaid, at least relative to the other specialties.

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i think it all comes down to competitiveness, if its something that's more competitive, you're gonna have more respect for the individual who did it. and usually, money = competitiveness. You're gonna respect someone more who's gone to harvard vs. a Caribbean school, you're gonna respect an orthopedic surgeon more vs. a fp. Not saying that this should happen, nor that one is 'better' than the other, but the general respect society offers them. Same thing goes for nobel prize-winner vs. fp as said earlier. The harder it is to become that role, the more respect in general you'll get. When you discussed 'getting pHD vs getting an MD' as far as graduating, yes MD is more likely once you've entered the program, but the point is that is more competitive to 'enter' medicine.

 

While I think this is a factor, I believe it to be a minor factor. I do not think the general public is well aware of just how difficult it is to get into medical school. Sure they know it's hard, but I don't think that it is the first thing that is on their mind regarding their perceptions of the career. I think Buffy pool hit it right on the head, but I also think that because of the nature of the job, doctors are directly impacting people in the community all of the time. People need doctors - they are their guide through many of the most difficult problems a person will face in his or her lifetime. This importance of the role that a physician has in his or her patients' lives helps to inflate peoples' perceptions of the career.

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Hey folks,

 

This is an interesting topic. I think that the reason MD's are so revered as Valentine previously mentioned is the capacity at which MD's are able to affect people. They are clinicians, teachers and researchers. They can directly affect the people in their care, right here and right now. Comparably, PhD's and their research has a great value to society. Lest we forget, medicine is evidence based and many of the protocols that MD's follow or medications they prescribe is and was a result from years of research of many Phd's and MD's alike. But ultimately, they only have an indirect effect to society (which in itself isn't a bad thing at all). Results from their research is only realized after a certain time passes. Personally, I think both are complimentary of each other and should both be revered for their own right. Also, regardless of what you pursue, MD or PhD, take solace in the fact that our work will go towards helping people; which of course is our ultimate goal in the end.

 

Just food for thought.

 

Kind regards,

 

Dr. E77

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I agree that the amount of competition for medical school is not that big a factor in determining the level of prestige associated with being an MD. Most people who are not applying for medical school don't understand the level of competition.

 

Also, look at graduate programs in clinical psychology-- the competition is usually even greater than it is for medical school. But is a psychologist considered more prestigious than a psychiatrist? Probably not-- the reverse is probably true.

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Something else to consider about MD prestige being greater than that of most PhD holders is that throughout life BEFORE university/college, the vast majority of people will interact with a medical doctor - many times on an annual basis. This is as opposed to someone with a PhD, or the stereotypical idea of someone who is conducting serious research.

 

Through visits to the doctor, it's also 100% clear that person X is the doctor, and in charge of what's going on, and person Y may be any given staff member (e.g. reception, nurse, attending etc.). Likewise through annual doctor's visits, youth build an idea of a doctor in their minds, what they do, and can ask them questions. There may be plenty of people with PhDs who don't point as much out unless asked, and how likely is that to come up in conversation with someone below age 14 (or even 17)?

 

Additionally, from birth to vaccinations to common disease to whatever has mom/dad/guardian worried - a doctor will at some point probably be approached as a cure provider, and that is going to stick in the minds of most youth. Even if the individual isn't 'cured' or helped significantly - the fact that his or her mom/dad/guardian relinquished the role of 'cure provider' (or whatever you want to call it) to someone, and the parent clearly treats that person with respect, that'll also stick in the youth's mind.

 

Really, I think being a medical practitioner is glamorized far more by mainstream media, which also adds a lot to the prestige of the position. House, ER, Grey's Anatomy, even Extreme Makeover - the medical doctors are consistent main characters.

 

As mentioned previously, the money factor is really really big. As much as I hope all physicians are NOT going into it for the money, all of those med school hopefuls looking to get in for the cash factor and who are rejected (often in amazement, go figure) then see other people doing something they have wanted to, and having a more than decent lifestyle supported by that - hello nice car, house and vacation destinations. How many people get rejected for a PhD program? Those that apply more likely than not KNOW that they won't be paid big bucks, or even if they want money, they probably realize the work required, and are getting into the program because of their drive.

 

Oh, and supply and demand! Dear physicians are an endangered species in Canada! Well, maybe not quite that, but physician shortage = newsworthy. The polar bear isn't just popular because it looks nice, think of how often polar bears are in the news (vs. one of any other number of endangered bears or other animals!). Of course people will treasure what there is only a small quantity of, ala gold, diamonds etc.

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While I think this is a factor, I believe it to be a minor factor. I do not think the general public is well aware of just how difficult it is to get into medical school. Sure they know it's hard, but I don't think that it is the first thing that is on their mind regarding their perceptions of the career. I think Buffy pool hit it right on the head, but I also think that because of the nature of the job, doctors are directly impacting people in the community all of the time. People need doctors - they are their guide through many of the most difficult problems a person will face in his or her lifetime. This importance of the role that a physician has in his or her patients' lives helps to inflate peoples' perceptions of the career.

 

I'ld say both are fairly major factors. Also note that 'ability to affect ppl' doesn't show why a nobel prize winner is more respected than an fp (assuming it wasn't the nobel prize for curing cancer). although Competitiveness obviously will only be respected if the person knows how competitive the field is. Which i think is another reason why say a MD is more respected than a PhD because i think a lot of people don't fully understand what it takes to get a PhD but everyone has some idea that its really competitive. If you look at fp vs. ortho surgeon, they probably have the same clincal ability to affect someone's life, altho ortho is more likely to be respected. At the same time, people don't always like someone who's too materialistic, so they might have less respect for a plastic surgeon (thinking they're doing it for the money, which may or may not be the case). Also it depends what demographic you're looking at. Science students and academics will probably have a lot of respect for watson and crick than say a lay person. I guess there's a number of factors that play a role here:

 

- competitiveness

- status in society

- money earned

- ability to save people's lives/affect them

- society's understanding of what you do/demographics

- media's portrayal of doctors

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I think it's job prospects. Only the best of people who receive Ph.D. get stable and "prestigious" jobs while almost everyone who has a M.D. in Canada will get a prestigious job. Which is also tied to money. Sad.

 

And also more variability among Ph.D. depending which university you get it from. Some of the big research universities have much stricter regulations, while others are more lax. That's why B.Sc. doesn't carry much weight either because no one knows which program is more prestigious/hard versus some lax Bachelors where people just study a bit, then party and still get by (yes this does exist contrary to popular belief).

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Everyone has given such excellent opinions to this thread. In my experience at university, it has just seemed like everyone i met wanted to be a physician and no one ever talked about grad school (which is why i started the thread). I just think that people who hold a PhD should be regarded as special people just like people who hold an MD (for %$#&'s sake some of my classmates call the profs by their first name).

 

ps.

i am a non-trad med hopeful who just found it kind of insulting how so many pre-meds took their profs for granted etc......

 

pss.

i do not hold any sort of graduate degree (BScN class of 2005)

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Some profs ask their students to call them by their first names though...

 

My old PI insisted I call him by his first name (but other students in the class still call him Dr.___). But some profs for large classes sign off their e-mails w/ first names lol. It depends on the person.

 

I think people do respect Ph.D's...at least outside of academia. There's just too many Ph.D's in academia lol.

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Everyone has given such excellent opinions to this thread. In my experience at university, it has just seemed like everyone i met wanted to be a physician and no one ever talked about grad school (which is why i started the thread). I just think that people who hold a PhD should be regarded as special people just like people who hold an MD (for %$#&'s sake some of my classmates call the profs by their first name).

 

ps.

i am a non-trad med hopeful who just found it kind of insulting how so many pre-meds took their profs for granted etc......

 

pss.

i do not hold any sort of graduate degree (BScN class of 2005)

 

I call all my profs by their first name, as do all the people at my school (with the noted exception of one prof., Professor Dunae). Other than that particular prof., everyone I have had has always insisted on the first day of classes that we call them by their first name (and thats through four years of classes, so probably at least 20 profs or so). But I go to a laid-back school like that!

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I actually call about half of my profs by their first name as well (only after they said that was ok), but i know a lot of my colleagues just assume that it is ok to call their profs by their first name. Do u mind if i ask which school u go too superking 25?

 

I am from Malaspina University-College in Nanaimo (most people would say "where?!", but it says you're from BC so perhaps you know. Perhaps you go here too!). We're actually right in the process of becoming Vancouver Island University (FULL UNIVERSITY STATUS!?).

 

My degree says "Malaspina University-College" though, so in ten years, people will think I got it from Bolivia (nothing against Bolivia. Man I love parentheses!).

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Malaspina is becoming Vancouver Island University?!? That's awesome! I remember when friends of mine went to plain old Malaspina College. Just one more step toward the Island becoming its own wonder-province. Oh, Island, how I miss you...

 

And in order to prevent from totally hijacking the thread, I think the general perception of PhD vs. MD prestige is intrinsically linked to money, but another major factor is notoriety/exposure as others have touched on. Many MDs are recognized figures in their communities but if you pass one on the street s/he just looks like any other plain person. But once it's revealed that they have an MD, people respect that because of the history and well-known contributions the members have made since ancient times.

 

Conversely, the PhD has only been around for about 1000 years (according to Wikipedia). This should seem like long enough, but there is not an inherent lumping of all people with a PhD into the same category, and in fact you can't since it varies between countries/schools/subjects. A good comparison of this is how much North American's respect foreign-trained MDs. Nonetheless, very successful researchers/PhDs are often well-recognized in society

 

That doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but it sounded okay in my head. Go Island!

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I think one of the big reasons why MDs are more respected than PhD is because of the burden of responsibility. How many PhDs do you know that have killed people they are responsible for? MDs graduate and are expected to take responsibility for the lives of others. They are expected to maintain the health of individuals who they really don't have any connection to other than that their your patient. I think that's the biggest reason why MDs are respected, you're responsible for human life and there really is no greater responsibility than that.

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I just think that people who hold a PhD should be regarded as special people just like people who hold an MD (for %$#&'s sake some of my classmates call the profs by their first name).

 

 

Well, I believe that it really is up to the prof. Most of the profs I know, like being called by their first name. Some MD's I call by their first name as well (I work in a hospital) and they don't mind.

 

ps. I'm starting my PhD this year and I wouldn't mind being called Dr. once in awhile. But I wouldn't mind being called my first name either.

 

kind regards,

 

Dr. E77

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