If you have decided to make the medical profession your career, you can have a multitude of academic options to help you do that. The most commonly pursued degrees in medicine in the US and the Caribbean are MD and PhD degrees.
Both degrees have their own merits and suitable career pathways, which makes it quite difficult to choose between the two options. However, knowing more about each degree can help you make a choice.
Read ahead to understand the key differences between an MD and a PhD program and what factors to consider while you are choosing an appropriate program.
What is an MD program?
The term MD comes from Latin words ‘Medicinae Doctor’, which means a Doctor of Medicine. An MD degree allows you to pursue a clinical career and establish a practice in allopathic medicine.
An MD degree can also allow you to specialize in different branches of clinical medicine depending upon your interests and career goals. You need to complete a residency program after medical school to then become licensed and practice medicine.
What does PhD stand for?
The term PhD comes from the Latin word ‘Philosophiae Doctor’, which means a Doctor of Philosophy. You can earn a PhD degree in any field by carrying out original research which can be applied to human use.
A PhD in medicine would require you to conduct clinical or medical research, which can further the barriers of modern medicine. A PhD in medicine, however, doesn’t require you to complete a residency program.
What are the key differences between a PhD and an MD program?
Both PhD and MD degrees are graduate programs, and you would be referred as a doctor on completing either of the programs. However, there are major differences between the two academic programs.
- Course structure: The course of study for an MD degree lasts for four years and combines theoretical study with clinical practice. On the other hand, PhD degree in medicine involves about a year of course work combined with research work spanning two to three years.
- Career ambitions: An MD program is appropriate for a clinical career in the healthcare domain. MD degree holders use their specialist knowledge to diagnose and treat different patients. In contrast, a PhD is more suited for an academic or a research-based career. Choosing a PhD program in medicine can allow you to look for research or teaching positions in medical universities.
- Academic prestige: Both degrees are highly regarded in the medical field and have their own sets of audiences. However, a PhD can be more suited for you if you wish to pursue an academic career.
Ultimately, the decision to opt for either a PhD or MD program or doing an MD after a PhD depends on your priorities. However, you can opt for an MD-PhD dual degree which can help you combine both career paths.
Dual MD-PhD degrees can allow you to become a physician-scientist focusing on scientific discoveries and inventions in the field of medicine and healthcare. Most physician-scientists opt for a research-oriented career instead of a medical one.
However, most dual MD-PhD degrees take seven to eight years to complete and require an immense commitment towards an academic life for a long time. Additionally, these degrees have limited seats in the US and the Caribbean, making it intensely competitive to secure admission into a dual program.
What factors should you consider while choosing an MD/PhD program?
Choosing a good MD or a PhD program, or medical school can be daunting. However, careful consideration of the following factors can make it very easy to make the right choice.
- Preferred program size: Both MD and PhD programs have class sizes ranging from a single student to more than 100 students depending upon the medical university. You should opt for a smaller program size if you want more hands-on guidance.
- Location of the medical school: As is with any academic degree, the location of the university can define your educational experience. For instance, you should opt for a good medical school in the Caribbean if you want access to beautiful beaches and tropical surroundings.
- Program duration: The choice between an MD or a PhD also depends on how much time you are willing to commit for your degree completion. An MD program can be a good choice if you want to pursue a clinical career immediately after your graduation.
Other factors for consideration include the academic and clinical facilities offered by the medical college, qualifications of the faculty and the accreditations of the medical school.
If you are looking for a suitable MD program to enhance your medical career prospects, you should check out the MD program offered by Saba University School of Medicine, located on Saba Island in the Caribbean.
The key advantages of pursuing an MD at Saba include access to state-of-the-art medical lab facilities and small class sizes. Saba is also known for its academic excellence, which is reflected in its impressive first-time USMLE Step 1 pass rate of 99% between 2015 and 2020.
Click here to apply for the MD program at Saba today.
This article was written by Sweha Hazari.