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Clinical vs research experience?

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I am applying for MD/PhD programs. Is it more important that I get more research experience after I graduate or clinical experience? #premed #medicine #clinical-research #research

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Thomas’s Answer


Depends on what area of Research you select. MD/PhD programs are a combination and as a simplified explanation can lead to a position in academic medicine (more clinical) or in industry (more research).

The MD/PhD programs have time for your required clinical work and PhD studies. You will receive an education in research (determining a research question to be answered, how to set up a research plan, how to statistically evaluate research and how to scientifically present your research in print and in person etc). The field of medicine you select will have a major determination of your clinical commitment. Medical research can be clinically based - what is best care for patients now or it may be bench/laboratory based as you determine whether some medications or procedures could be a real potential breakthrough in the future. (For example a Surgeon/PhD would be interested in a study just published that discussed whether acute appendicitis should be operated on immediately as is present practice or should be treated with antibiotics and not surgery vs an Oncologist/PhD who is looking for cellular level cancer care.)

Thomas recommends the following next steps:

  • Look at many MD/PHd programs and see how they set up their research programs. Is the program individualized for you or more predetermined? Do they have mentors in only a few selected fields or more areas from which to select? And what may seem as to not be an answer to your question but is important. Where is the program? Would you live there if you were not in the program? Is there time to do more than study? You will be living there for 4-10 years and ought not to hate the place!