I don’t get MD/PhDs

When mud-phuds do a PhD in a scientific field completely unrelated to the clinical field they enter. Or rather, to be temporally accurate, when they enter a specialty that is completely unrelated to the science in their PhD, even when they had lots of success in said PhD. I have to wonder, is it a waste of time? On one hand, grad school is about learning how to do science and the fundamental skills and mindset required for doing science is applicable to all fields. Further, basic science is well-respected and having a track record of basic science experience will look good when applying to residencies and perhaps grants during residency/post-doctoral years. Plus, it’s common for science people (non-clinical) to switch fields after their PhD. It’s your post-doc that really determines the field that your career falls in. Finally, you get a free med school education. On the other hand, if you’re going to get clinical training (residency) and you want to be a true physician-scientist, your future career’s research field will likely be related to your clinical field. Then all the specific knowledge from your PhD would be irrelevant and, if not irrelevant, obsolete by the time you finish clinical training. You could have instead devoted those 4-6 years doing a relevant post-doc that sets a firm foundation for your first independent grants.

I was reminded of this thought recently when I read of this recently graduated MD/PhD student from WashU who had seemingly amazing success: in 8 years, got her dual degrees and published TWO first/co-first-author papers in Nature, a first-author paper in J Exp Med, and middle author papers in Nature, Nat Immunol, J Exp Med, and Mol Cell, plus a review. These are in the field of immunology and I guess, since they deal with DNA damage and repair, heme/onc. What is one field that has nothing to do with lymphocytes? She matched to general surgery at Vandy. I’m sure she has a good reason; I am very curious.


NY Med

The makers of ABC documentary series Boston Med (at MGH, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Children’s Hospital) and Hopkins (at Hopkins) are finished with their newest awesome show NY Med (at NewYork-Presbyterian).

Viewers have always loved these shows because they take months of filming and distill it to the 500 most dramatic minutes. Naturally, this means a heavy emphasis on surgeons (YES), emergency physicians, and emotional patient stories. The show also always manages to get a really diverse set of characters.

NY Med is no exception, at least from what I can tell from the press releases.

The most famous star of the show is Mehmet Oz, better known as Dr. Oz, better known as Oprah’s go-to doc for lending credibility to alternative medicine practices and peddling nutritional advice. (T’s first impression of him was on Oprah, telling people about the virtues of broccoli.) I was surprised to learn that he has a legit position as a cardiothoracic surgeon at Columbia and a vice chairman of the department of surgery. What’s more, he was a Harvard undergrad and got his MD/MBA from Penn/Wharton.

Given his support for quackery ranging from Reiki, hypnosis, homeopathy, to transcendental meditation, I am very curious as to how he practices surgery. To what extent does he value evidence-based practices? Is he authoritarian or open-minded? Does he seem like a salesman toward patients? How does he balance his surgical practice with his celebrity media life? Continue reading