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A doctor then a physicist!

  1. Nov 27, 2007 #1
    Hello all,

    I'm hoping that I can get some honest answers here. I'm a premed student at RCSI-MUB. Although I'm going to study medicine, I'm fond of physics specially theoretical physics. In addition, my high school grades in physics were very high. I want to ask you here, what are your opinions about studying medicine and then studying physics? Will this work?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 27, 2007 #2


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    As long as you apply yourself you shouldn't have a problem doing it in any order. However, it seems intuitive to me that you would do the physics degree as your undergraduate first, then persue the MD.
  4. Nov 27, 2007 #3


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    I agree with stewart's suggestion that you do your undergrad major in physics if that is your long-term plan. As long as you supplement it with the required pre-med courses in biology and chemistry, you'll be properly prepared for medical school, and also adequately prepared for an advanced degree in physics later. And, it's important to take those advanced undergraduate physics courses rather than basing your decisions for your future based only on a high school physics experience.

    It also gives you two very good options should either one of them fall through. Not everyone gets an acceptance to medical school or graduate school, so having two subjects interest you gives you a lot more opportunity and safety should one of them not work out.
  5. Nov 27, 2007 #4


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    Give some thought to the investment in time this requires. Don't know about your country, but in the US it's six to eight years for the MD (including internship and residency), then another six or more for the PHD and you'll be an old (and broke) man before your first job! One solution is to pick up just a masters in physics. Another is to look into the combined MD-PhD programs offered at many top US universities (assume there is something similar near you).
  6. Nov 27, 2007 #5

    Chris Hillman

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    TWIAVBP ("The World Is a Very Big Place")

    The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland – Medical University of Bahrain (RCSI-MUB) campus in Muharraq, Bahrain?

    Anyway, earning an M.D. and then a Ph.D. in medical research is a fairly common career path in the USA, so I don't see why you can't pursue this in Bahrain. At least in the USA, the extra money paid to researchers who are also M.D.s is supposed to make it worth the bother in the long run. I'm assuming obviously that you would be happy to pursue a career in medical biophysics, which I think would afford you plenty of opportunity to theorize, just about :wink: stuff that matters.
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2007
  7. Nov 27, 2007 #6


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    It's 4 years for the MD degree, then another 2 of residency, but residents are paid, so it's only 4 years of "poverty." There are more residency/fellowship requirements if you want a subspecialty, but not everyone needs to go through that. I don't know how flexible physics PhD programs are, but I would suspect that a degree in theoretical physics would have more flexibility than one in experimental physics in terms of being able to do part-time studies while practicing medicine to pay the bills. I guess it depends which field he wants to make his primary career path, and which is a pursuit out of academic interest. If he doesn't plan to work as a physicist, but just wants to study it for his own growth, then what does it matter if it takes a long time to complete the degree?

    The MD/PhD degree usually is limited to those pursuing a PhD in a biomedical field of research. The reason is that in order to condense everything into a 6 year program (usually more like 7 in reality), the first two years of medical school courses count toward the majority of your Ph.D. coursework, so you only pick up one or two more courses along the way specific to your discipline, then do your two-three years of research, complete your dissertation and return to 2 more years of clinical work. If you're doing a Ph.D. in something other than biomedical research, the M.D. coursework will not be at all adequate for the Ph.D. requirements, so can't save you any time.
  8. Nov 28, 2007 #7
    Thanks! I got a lot from your replays :)

    In fact, my studying at RCSI-MUB is a scholarship from the Ministry of Education (in Bahrain). So I don't want to keep this chance to go away!

    I love the idea to do part-time studies in physics while practising medicine to pay the bills. I hope that I can do this.

    Thanks again for your advice ;)
  9. Jun 1, 2010 #8

    Oh My God!
    I have exactly the same problem- I love Physics,(and I got excellent grades in high school physics too) but due to certain events I might have to end up doing medicine. I wouldn't mind becoming an ER doctor but it is very difficult to let go of physics. Is there a possibility for anyone to become a doctor and at the same time study physics? Besides I have a problem with financing my studies. but I do love physics...
    I haven't met anyone else who understands me.
    Aldurazi, did it work for you?
  10. Jun 1, 2010 #9
  11. Jun 1, 2010 #10

    Andy Resnick

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    I think this is the first time I have seen a degree in physics referred to as a 'fall-back option'...
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