Other Career Pathways
Many college students who enjoy research become focused on the MD-PhD program and the only door into a rewarding career as a physician scientist, translational research, or the medical field in general. It is not. The MD-PhD program is a rigorous, long program that is not right for everyone. We are strong advocates of this path and much of our site discusses the advantages of the MD-PhD degree. Still, many excellent physician scientists and translational science researchers combine a single degree, often a Ph.d or MD, with work experience. Although the MD-PhD program's stipend and scholarship lessens the burden of medical school tuition, it is not always the clear financial winner.
Research Training as a Medical Resident
This path offers the opportunity to combine clinical training with advanced research training to complete a PhD degree during or upon completion of residency or clinical fellowship. The program begins with one or more years of postgraduate clinical training, followed by research training in a graduate program. Residents/clinical fellows admitted to the program complete clinical training toward board certification in internal medicine, its subspecialties (cardiovascular medicine, hematology, immunology and rheumatology, infectious diseases, nephrology, oncology, pulmonary and critical care medicine), surgical disciplines (neurosurgery, obstetrics and gynecology, surgery and urology), or non-surgical disciplines (neurology, pediatrics, psychiatry, radiation oncology and radiology). Examples of this program can be found at Stanford's Advanced Residency Training Program
, the Yale Investigative Medicine Program
or the UCLA STAR program
. These programs are specically designed from MD's and are structured differently from Physician Scientist Residency programs (which encourage MD-PhD's and MD with lots of research to enroll in).
Masters in Medicine + PhD
If you're a research scientist at heart, why not get a Masters degree in Medicine, as opposed to a 4 year doctorate. Do you really need to know how to delivery babies or treat older people with lower back pain? A Master in Medicine program is offered at a number of Universities and provide PhD candidates serious exposure to clinical medicine with a view to fostering translational research. The incredible pace of basic science discovery today stands in dramatic contrast to the slow rate of development of useful medical advances. There is urgent need for a more efficient mechanism to generate a larger pool of scientists knowledgeable about human biology and disease. The goal of the Masters program is to train a new generation of PhD students about human biology and disease, and thus more able to translate new scientific discoveries into useful medical advances.
Basic Science PhD
Great medical advances are made by large groups of scientists and physicians working together. Great collaborators and partners make all the difference. Joining an institution with a track record of strong collaborations is a great idea. And translational science has become a disipline in itself. The Translational Science PhD program at Mayo Clinic
trains students for a career working together with scientist and physicians to bring basic science discoveries to the clinic.