Dual training in medicine (MD) and research (PhD) is one way to become a physician-scientist, someone who is trained as a clinician but also contributes a significant amount of time to research. These degrees can be done separately, but there are also combined MD/PhD programs that integrate the two degrees. See my post Why MD/PhD? where I finally address this question in detail.
What are MD/PhD programs like?
There are a variety of structures of MD/PhD programs to consider. See my post How do MD/PhD programs differ? for more information.
The day-to-day and year-to-year experiences of MD/PhD students vary considerably. For more on the daily and yearly experience as a MD/PhD student, see my posts A Day in the Life of a MD/PhD Student and My MD/PhD Timeline.
Who are other dual-degree trainees I can learn from?
The posts on this blog are based on my experiences, and as time goes on, based on my understanding of my friends’ experiences at other programs throughout the country. I also must recognize that my experience with my background is by no means representative of trainees with other backgrounds. I highly encourage you to find other people to learn from as well.
My favorite resource for finding other dual-degree trainee voices is on Twitter. First, give the American Physician Scientists Association a follow (@A_P_S_A). Then check out their lists, and in particular their MD/DO-PhD Students list to find trainees. Briana Ruíz Christophers (@BriChristophers) also has a Twitter moment where you can find mentors.
On instagram, Adrienne (ssg.to.mdphd) has a lot of comprehensive information. Check out her highlights and IGTV for more information. Scopes and Scrubs (@scopesandscrubs) also has a lot of educational content about MD/PhD programs.
On YouTube, Ayomide O has a new YouTube channel where she has a series titled “Spilling on the MD/PhD Admissions’ Tea” featuring voices of multiple MD/PhD students from different backgrounds.
On any social media, the hashtag #DoubleDocs will give you some posts about Doc Martens but also is commonly used by the physician-scientist/trainee community (a historical perspective on that hashtag here). Some people use the similar hashtag #DoubleDoc as well as #ImperfectDoubleDocs and #DiverseDoubleDocs. Other commonly used hashtags include #mdphd and #mdphdtobe (very exciting to see others use my hashtag!)
What other resources exist to help aspiring physician-scientists?
The American Physician Scientists Association! It is a national student-run organization that supports physician-scientist trainees. I’m a little biased as a former APSA leader (#APSAlutely!), but more importantly, I have been a member of APSA since my first year as a MD/PhD student. Over the years, I’ve seen how the resources provided by APSA continues to grow. For undergraduate students, check out the undergraduate resources page and in particular the APSA Applicant Interactive Series. There are many other useful interactive sessions also available on the site. For those applying to residency, check out the Research Residency Training Programs resource. There are many other useful resources on the site, but these are a few of my faves! If you find the information on their site helpful, please consider becoming a member of APSA or asking your program if they would consider getting an institutional membership.
MD/PhD National Student Conference is an annual meeting held in Colorado (or virtually) each summer that brings together MD/PhD students, alumni, and faculty from across the country.
American Association of Black Physician Scientists addresses the needs of current and future Black physician-scientists. Resources on the site include interviews of Black physician-scientists.
Medical Student Pride Alliance, while not only directed at physician-scientist trainees, is an organization founded in April 2018 to unite all LGBTQ+ medical students, promote recruitment of queer students into medicine, and advocate for the rights of LGBTQ individuals in healthcare.
How do I pick a research lab/advisor?
I’ve written extensively about my experience both rotating through labs and ultimately deciding to switch labs after a year in the program. Way more people switch labs than you might think and that’s totally fine! It is a delay not a dead end.
- How to pick a research lab
- Picking a thesis lab is a lot like dating
- The first rotation is the hardest
- Reflections from my second lab rotation
- My third and final rotation
- Why I switched thesis labs in graduate school
What are my chances of getting into med school?
Sorry, I can’t tell you that! But I can share my experiences to help you reflect on how you may want to prepare for your medical school application (granted I applied in 2012).
- Activities for medical school – which are important?
- Getting research experience as an undergraduate/post-bacc student
- How I prepared for the MCAT in only a month
- Study tips for the MCAT (more on how I prepared in a month)
More to come!