The more people I talk to, the more I become thrilled yet scared at the same time. Being a clinician scientist is exciting, very exciting. You can develop a very deep appreciation of human health at the most basic, cellular level. At the same time you can gear the research that you do so that it is directly applicable to the needs of society and will in some way impact your patients. You’re basically a pioneer of medicine who is working on understanding various diseases or developing drugs to treat others. It’s a highly rewarding career, that’s what every MD/PhD I’ve talked to says at least. I think it’s an amazing career option for a workaholic like me :P
What’s the downside? Umm… you starting your career when you’re like 35. So I’m 21 right now and the MD/PhD program is 9 years. Then I would still have to do residency and potentially some post-doc fellowships. What does that mean? Well first off, when do you MAKE the time to have a family? Also, you’re pretty much earning below minimum wage until you’re 35 so how do you even afford to have a family? How do you even afford to cloth and feed yourself or really just have a social life?
There’re sacrifices that must be made for sure. You’re BUSY ALL THE TIME so you must MAKE time to do anything. You can’t hang out with your friends as much as you’d want to but then I guess you just spend more quality time together. You need to give up on some of your hobbies, just think about how much harder it would be to train for a marathon if you’re working 80 hours a week… I’m not 100% sure of what would happen to my blog if I was to pursue my career ambitions. Maybe I would just convert into a more sciency blog and post less frequently. I don’t know…
The other thing is that you’re always the new kid. You start medical school and you’re a new kid. Then after one year you start the PhD portion and you’re the new kid gain. Then once you’re done the PhD program you return back to medical school where everyone you’ve met when you just started has already graduated and is your boss. From what I’ve heard that’s a really shitty feeling.
I know I haven’t gotten in yet or anything (please don’t say I will because you really don’t know) but it’s something worth thinking about. It’s not a smooth course and is filled with scary twists& turns. However, I think it’ll be worth it in the end. Plus doing a combined MD/PhD program isn’t the only way to get to my ultimate goal and there’re many different ways to get to where I need to be. That's what I've realized talking with so many clinician scientists.
My present thoughts can somewhat be summarized by the “Just around the riverband” song from Pocahontas but with respect to carrier not marriage :P
What’s the hardest career decision you’d had to make?