What is more work? A regular MD or the complete path to a PhD?

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by Friendlyman, Jun 28, 2004.

  1. lchemist

    lchemist New Member

    Once again the schooling time is:

    Bachelor's: 4 years
    Medical school: 4 years

    That's it you got your MD, if after that you decide to become an actor, you still hold an MD degree.

    For a pHD you get:

    Bachekor's: 4 years
    Graduate School: 4 to 7 years

    Then you have the Post doctoral work 2 to 5 years.

    What residency (and fellowship) is to an MD, the post doc work is to a PHD.

  2. Scott Henley

    Scott Henley New Member

    To get into medical school, one does not necessarily require a bachelor's degree in a cognate discipline. If one holds a BA in History with very high standing, this may be enough academically-speaking.

    All the medical training comes from the MD degree. Again, drawing a comparison to a PhD in Electrical Engineering, the PhD builds on the BEng and MEng that came before.

    A PhD holder in Electrical Engineering has over 7 years of coursework in Electrcial Engineering, plus all the projects and theses along the way.

    An MD has a maximum of 4 years of coursework which includes the basic life sciences in the first year that may have never been learned before in a, say, BA in History program.

    A PhD in Electrical Engineering is a true "doctor" (i.e. expert) in the field.
  3. Anthony Pina

    Anthony Pina Active Member

    Actually, the order tends to be chronological. the last degree earned is the last listed (which also tends to be the highest). I have known several MD, PhDs. In every case the PhD was earned after the MD. These professionals started as practitioners and later wished to become researchers as well. All of them went straight into their PhD programs, bypassing the masters altogether.

    In hiring college faculty, most universities treat JD and MD degrees as "doctoral" degrees--equivalent to the PhD, EdD, etc., rather than undergraduate or masters-equivalent.

    Tony Pina
    Faculty, Cal State U. San Bernardino
  4. Michael Lloyd

    Michael Lloyd New Member

    Luis, you may want to go back and re-read my original post. Note carefully the part where I talk about the number of years to earn the final credential and thus enter the workforce. That is the salient point to my post.

    I suspect it is not even possible anymore for a US-trained physician to be fully licensed as a physician and begin work right after completing four years of medical school.

    Just as a MD probably is unable to begin work right out of med school, a Ph.D. is probably not able to begin work right out of grad school without additional training, such as the post-doc. I suspect this depends upon what one does with the PhD; you may be able to find work in industry right out of grad school, but not in academics, I think.
  5. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    What needs to be clear in this discussion is that the KIND of work for a graduate degree is DIFFERENT than the KIND of work for a JD or (I imagine) an MD.

    The JD requires a mountain of reading and analysis, but the JD student is not being trained to extend legal theory, only to apply legal theory to fact situations. Make no mistake; a JD is a major intellectual undertaking, but it is NOT comparable to a graduate degree.

    I don't know which kind of work is harder; I think it probably varies with the individual. With the JD, there are "right" and "wrong" analyses but with the master's degree there are only competing theories.
  6. zvavda

    zvavda New Member

    I'm not familiar with US system but I have some question to ask you.

    If MD = JD = Professional doctorate,
    Why MD can use title "Dr" bur JD cannot if it on doctoral degree together?
  7. BillDayson

    BillDayson New Member

    It's just tradition. There isn't any 'system' to it.

    There's no formal regulation that says that J.D.s can't use the title "doctor". But there's an informal tradition that says that attorneys don't, at least in a legal setting.

    That raises a question for our attorneys:

    Suppose that an attorney has earned a Ph.D. as well as a J.D. Would it be acceptable for that attorney to be referred to as "doctor" in the courtroom, thus assuming implied rank over opposing counsel, or would the court admonish him to stop it?
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 6, 2004
  8. colmustard

    colmustard New Member


    I have a PhD and a law degree and work as a CEO in health administration (hospitals). Three years of law courses is more prestigious than three years of masters work in a PhD program. Both require an examination of learning (bar and comprehensives)The licensing exam adds to the rigor of the law degree. But to say a PhD (most require 5 more years of study) degree is no more advanced from standpoint of rigor than a law degree is absurd. The MD degree is a much more rigorous process than the other two since it is followed by an internship, licensing, and probably 4-5 years of residency before closure begins in the formal educational regimen. By the way, doctor in latin means "to teach." A professor PhD is usually called doctor.
  9. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    Actually, there WAS a time when the ABA issued an ethics advisory opinion forbidding the use of the title "Doctor" by J.D. holders.

    The reasoning was interesting. The American J.D. is exactly the same degree as an American LL.B. The J.D. holder who used the title "Doctor", which the LL.B. could not, thereby would imply that his educational background was somehow more extensive than the LL.B. This was deemed to be misleading and therefore unethical advertising.

    The ABA has withdrawn its official objection in light of the curious fact that virtually all American law schools offered to award J.D. degrees to their existing LL.B. graduates.

    I have learned from postings on this forum that J.D. holders in academia DO use the title "Doctor". Lawyers in general, however, follow the older useage.
  10. Anthony Pina

    Anthony Pina Active Member

    It is pretty common practice for college teaching faculty who hold a JD to be called "doctor". Interestingly enough, I typically do not hear law school faculty use the title doctor, but those with JDs who are not teaching in a school of law regularly use the title doctor. This is especially true of community college faculty.

    Tony Pina
    Faculty, Cal State U. San Bernardino
  11. zvavda

    zvavda New Member

    MD, JD, MBA and PhD
    What degree is the highest earning?
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 6, 2004
  12. lchemist

    lchemist New Member

    Re: MD/JD/PhD

    My point is that the MD degree in itself is not more rigorous than the PhD, as you say the residency/internship, follows the MD.
    It can be argue that the internship/residency is mandatory in order to be able to exercise the profession, but to obtain the MD degree you just need the 4 years of medical school.

    Another issue is that the PhD is a specialized research degree, a person chooses a field and within that field a usually very narrow topic of research in which to put all the effort; while the MD is a general degree where the student is expected to learn about the whole field of medicine. Specialization is left for the internship/residency period.

  13. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    Which degree earns the most money?

    Well, that depends. On the whole, I suppose that MDs earn on average significantly more than JDs or PhDs. However, it is not at all unusual for a very hard working and skillful JD to become a millionaire whereas I suspect that the opportunities for great wealth are more restricted in the medical field.

    A PhD in business might pay very very well indeed but it is hard to see how a PhD in, say, ancient languages will ever do more than get by...
  14. Gregory Gulick DO

    Gregory Gulick DO New Member

    Hey gang, just your luck... a physician has joined this group! ;) So I'd like to chime in on the whole MD and PhD issue... although, if you don't mind, I'm going to expand the discussion to be MD/DO and PhD. If you don't know what a DO is, visit www.am-osteo-assn.org or the AMA website. But this discussion pertains to all medical doctorates (or their equivalents), MD/DO/DM/MBBS (e.g., anyone that can practice as a fully licensed physician in any medical specialty in the United States).

    The question originally was "what is harder." Lets face it, you have to have brains to get into a doctorate of any sort and your own strengths and weaknesses are going to determine how hard the program is. I was apparently smart enough to survive medical school and pass all three parts of my medical licensing boards... but could I get a PhD in physics? Not a chance.

    Anyways, medical education is best described as INTENSE. But the intensity is not only intellectual, it is physically and emotionally intensive. In my field, Internal Medicine, we commonly work 30 hour shifts, at least one or two per week. We spend a great deal of time in the Intensive Care Unit taking care of people who already have one foot in the grave. The other night, for example, I had three patients going into septic shock and they were spread out over two floors. I was at the bedside of patient A dealing with his issues, while issuing orders to a nurse on the telephone for patient B. And all of this was done without any sleep for at least 23 hours. This is pretty common. The next day I went home at 1pm, slept 12 hours, and woke up the next morning to do it all over again. Because I do this doesn't make me better or smarter than a PhD. I'm just doing the job that my doctoral degree trained me to do.

    So basically, the medical doctorate (MD or DO, or equivalent) and the PhD are quite different, though I wouldn't label one or the other to be lesser. In fact, I feel, they are so different that you cannot really compare them. As far as who is a "real" doctor? There is no such thing. There are different types of "doctors" and I wouldn't describe any as "real" or "unreal".

    To put it another way, the world needs both to go around. I'm a better doctor because of PhDs that formulate amazing medications for me to use. And when the PhDs come down with disease, hopefully I'll be there to help them out. :)
  15. bullet

    bullet New Member

    md by far

    md is much harder to obtain.
  16. RFValve

    RFValve Well-Known Member

    In order to get a PhD in Electrical Engineering is not necessary to get M.Eng or B.Eng in Electrical Engineering. I had few professors with undergraduates and master's in Math, physics or computer science that had a PhD in EE. Can you get into an MD program with BA in history? It is possible but you stand the same chances that someone with a M.Sc in Economics trying to get in into a PhD in computer science.
  17. Tom Head

    Tom Head New Member

    Speaking as someone who has a nephew in medical school (beginning his fourth year): the MD is harder. Period. It isn't even close. The Ph.D. track is a little more time-consuming, but most Ph.D. programs don't require you to pull 36-hour shifts, watch people die, stick your hand in certain orifices when you'd rather not, and so forth.

  18. mrw142

    mrw142 New Member

    This all depends on the PhD pursued. I'll take a person with a PhD in the hard sciences, dissertation completed, and a couple years of post doc over most MDs. Who is to say that a PhD in Molecular Biology or Organic Chemistry who has advanced the field of science through their dissertation and then followed up with a couple years of late nights in post doc research is not the equal or better of one who has jumped through the hoops to get their MD, even if the hoops were surrounded in flames and set very high?

    As for the JD, I'll wager it's the toughest in terms of stress, but doesn't compare in terms of work. I finished top half of class (barely) at a top tier (barely) and I mailed it in the first two months of each semester--and if you all haven't noticed, I is not exactly some prodigious genius. It just wasn't THAT hard--stressful, not hard.
  19. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member


    The J.D. program is stressful partly because it is deliberately designed to be confrontational. Most people hate being confronted, even more having to confront others. Law school is designed in part to equip the student with the tools and confidence he will absolutely need in Court.

    I kinda liked it...
  20. mrw142

    mrw142 New Member

    Me too. The confrontation could induce stress, but for me the testing and the mandatory curve were the real stressful parts: you'd go for a semester or a year with no input into your progress, then--bam!--a 2, 3, 4 or 5 hour exam, your whole grade in the balance. The whole thing carefully creafted to prepare you for the Bar and the stress of litigation.

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