“MD/PhD programs are designed to prepare individuals for careers as physician-scientists. The physician-scientist is an individual who possesses the clinical skills and knowledge of medicine combined with the expert mastery of an area of science and the scientific method… By the dual nature of their training, they are individuals with unique perspective: their MD/PhD training has provided them with experiences and instincts to observe clinical syndromes, to reflect on those symptoms in the light of fundamental biological science, and to pursue the study of those diseases through hypothesis-driven research.” – Robert Ulane, NYU School Of Medicine
The MD/PhD degree is one unlike any other. It is for people who aren’t content with the clinical aspect of medicine; they aren’t satisfied with only diagnosing the patient and prescribing medications. They dig deeper, into the science and molecular aspect of the diseases that manifest in their clinic.
The relationship between the biological science and medicine is incredibly strong, and each are vital to the other’s success. Biological mysteries are solved to give patients suffering terrible diseases a chance to recover, and medical advancements are made from biological discoveries applied to the understanding of human anatomy. Medicine and research coexist in a symbiotic relationship, each supporting the other and fueling innovation. They might be able to exist on their own, but will never be nearly as successful as they could be together.
This middle ground between a physician and a scientist is hard to acheive, and takes longer than a typical MD degree. The average length to attain an MD/PhD degree is eight years. However, the MD/PhD program has one benefit that MD progrms don’t have. Students who get accepted into these programs usually get their medical school paid for, AND a stipend during their years conducting research for their PhD! Definitely makes the long haul worthwhile, for the most part!
The road to become a physician-scientist is long, and filled with many challenges. However, it is highly rewarding. Here are some other articles to help you in your decision: