The majority of today’s physician scientists do not have a PhD. A number of programs exist to become engaged in research while in medical school. This week, the NIH announces the 42 recipients of the Research Scholars Training Fellowship. This program provides full funding for 1 year of research with one of the 1200 faculty at the NIH in Bethesda, MD. The program has been in existence since 1986 and is a great opportunity to become immersed in research as a student.
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Though we are not tax experts, we’ve compiled some helpful information from around the web that should help you complete your taxes. Yes, MD-PhD students have to pay taxes, even if they don’t get a W2 form.
As an MD/PhD student interested in medical education, I’ve begun to read through the Journal of Academic Medicine from time to time. It’s an excellent resource for medical student leaders who frequently interact with the deans and administrators of the university.
It’s also worth a read for our visitors who still deciding on schools or whether or not to enter an MD/PhD program at all. This journal will give you a look at the issues facing MD/PhD programs across the country.
An article last month by the who’s who of MD/PhD program directors caught my eye. The article titled “Are MD-PhD Programs Meeting Their Goals?“ responds to a discussion about whether MD/PhD programs in their current structure are worth the investment. Are the programs turning out physician scientists?
This is the largest study ever performed of the career outcomes for MD/PhD program graduates. It identifies key trends over time in graduation times, specialty choices, and others. The authors raise the importance of vertically integrating programs and a look at reforming programs to ultimately increase the number of graduates who one day receive RO1 training grants. It’s a great article and worth a read.
The AAMC Graduate Education, Research, and Training (GREAT) Group and its MD-PhD Section have developed new informational websites for students considering biomedical science careers.
The site is new, so take a look and give them some feedback.
The Stanford School of Medicine has a great nickname for their 5-year masters in Medicine-PhD hybrid program: MOM. The program was spearheaded by Dr. Ben Bares, a great neuroscience researcher and allows basic science oriented students to get some medical training before heading into a research career. This should interest many readers of this blog.
Here’s a link to the article that a relative forwarded to me that’s well worth a read. Here’s an excerpt about the rationale.
There are fewer people now doing MD/PhDs than there were in 1980. “That’s because in the last 30 years, everything—in clinical medicine, as well as in research—has gotten more specialized,” said Barres. “So if you want to train in both, it just keeps taking longer and longer.” The MOM program is not meant to replace the MD/PhD programs, but to provide another path for students who have a clear focus on their research orientation…..
There’s a huge need, not only in the academic world but in the pharmaceutical world, for more scientists who know about disease, said Barres, who noted that the amount of money being spent by pharmaceutical companies on new drug development keeps going up. But the number of new drugs approved by the FDA each year has been going down. “The question is, why? I think our training systems are the problem.”
Link to the MOM program site.
What the Recession Means for MD/PhDsFriday, February 13th, 2009
A recession is a great time to be in school because you’re mostly sheltered from the economic downturn. But basic science labs at most institutions still have significant exposure to the stock market collapse. That’s because the endowments fund a great deal of the research at a University–and only the tip top universities can run a research department at a profit. Usually, the grants cover about 85% of a laboratory’s budget and the university hospital or endowment makes up the difference to complete the budget. Unless a researchers currently has 2 active grants, chances are they are relying on the university to subsidize their research–in excess of private and public grants.
(Aside, a nytimes.com blog by a Stephen Quake of Stanford got me started on this topic; he has an interesting discussion about funding a lab in his recent post)
In the downturn, endowments have suffered. Stanford and Harvard (which have been most prominently covered by the media) lost over 20% of their $15+ billion dollar funds. And university hospitals have seen downturns as well (Oregon Health & Science laid off 500 employees because they used to make a 5% profit on hospital procedures announced they were making a measly 1%). While NIH grants might not cover all the research interests, the basic science activities do provide value to the hospital and university in prestige, recruiting, and other ways that benefit medicine-MD/PhDs realize this.
So, what does this mean for you? It means that PIs who are not fully funded by NIH & private grants will be losing resources. It means that total spending on research will be further contract. It means that MD/PhDs may receive additional pressure to see patients to generate revenue. But in the end, it remains a good time to be in school and to receive training with the hope that he economy will be booming 4 years (MD) + 3 years (PhD) + 4 years (residency) = 11 years in the future.