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Becoming a scientist/physician

  1. Dec 26, 2009 #1
    I saw on a few documentaries people with titles like "Physician and biochemist" or "Physician and neuroscientist". I've been planning on becoming some kind of scientist but I wont be able to get government funding for all my projects so it would be nice to have a steady income like that of a physician. Is it hard to become both a doctor and a research scientist?
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  3. Dec 26, 2009 #2
    Depends on what you mean by "hard." Being admitted to medical school in general is extremely competitive. There are MD/PhD programs that specialize in training physcian/scientists. Many of these graduates go on to practice at an academic hospital where they can also run a research lab. I've known MD/PhD's who do 90% research, 10% patient contact and I've also known some who don't do any research. (And many in between...)

    Ultimately I think it depends on what you want to do research. If you want to study in the basic sciences, like biochemistry, then you can certainly get a MD/PhD and earn a higher salary than someone who has only the PhD. However, you do have to put in the time. Most people who get a MD/PhD spend 7 years earning the degrees, and then spend between 3 and 7 years in medical residency, depending on the specialty.

    Hope this helps!
  4. Dec 26, 2009 #3


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    You might also want to keep in mind that a lot of MDs participate in and even direct research without the PhD. In general it ends up being clinically oriented research.
  5. Dec 30, 2009 #4
    Thanks a lot for the info. The course I'm in right now is a joint chemistry/pharmacology B.Sc course. In Ireland people go straight into medical school without doing a 4 year bachelor degree first so I'm not sure what I will have to do if I want to get an MD/PhD. I suppose the course I'm doing now can only benefit worst comes to worst I'll have to start medical school from scratch but by then I'll already have a good knowledge base in chemistry and pharmacology so I should tear through medical school.
  6. Dec 30, 2009 #5
    In regards to medical school, it's the same in Slovenia (and as far as I know all across Europe), and I've heard of a lot of people who have multiple bachelors with one of them being medicine. So I guess if you want to combine that you'll have to go study medicine, but I bet the studies you're engaged in now are going to be of significant help.
  7. Dec 30, 2009 #6
    From what I've heard, having a degree in chemistry and pharmacology won't help you in medical school. Academic medicine also pays a fraction of what a non-academic physician makes.
  8. Jan 2, 2010 #7
    The material they cover in medical school must encompass some chemistry and pharmacology. I don't mean having a degree will help me get into medical school I mean I'll already have a lot of useful knowledge.
  9. Jan 2, 2010 #8
    Thats pretty cool. Would multiple bachelors require 4 years for each degree or could you skip a year or two depending on the level of knowledge you already have? In my college the first year courses for lots of different courses (chemistry, genetics, biotechnology etc.) are identical so I assume if I wanted to get a second bachelors degree after I'm done with this one I could at least skip the first year.
  10. Jan 2, 2010 #9
    I'm pretty sure that if you were to transfer from Chemistry or Pharmacology to Medicine you wouldn't be able to skip a year or two, but could perhaps get some courses recognized as some of them do cover a similar topic. Since I'm not studying Medicine, it's hard to say what the number of such courses would be, but if I were to take an educated guess, I'd say no more than 5, probably only one or two. But even though you wouldn't get formal recognition, the stuff you'd learn would be helpful in understanding courses taught in Medicine. So you'd still have to go through 6 years of med school, but would at least have a somewhat easier time learning the stuff.
  11. Jan 2, 2010 #10
    Depending on where you do medical school, in all likelihood you wouldn't get to skip ANY classes. Not because you wouldn't know info, but because most schools want you to take everything there.

    But some do let you skip courses, so lets talk about those...

    Of the basic sciences, there is one Biochemistry course, and one pharmacology course. So if, you could skip those, that is only 2 classes. But, you likely wouldn't be able to skip pharmacology as the pharm in medical school is extremely specific to what you will need to know to be a doctor.

    Hope this helps!
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