MD vs. PhD vs. MD/PhD : what's best for research?

Marc Wiles wilesm at
Fri Dec 17 14:36:13 EST 1993

First, I'd like to thank all those who have commented very kindly on my
comments about PhD vs MD researchers in my original very long post.  I
expected to be flamed, but have received only positive responses.

I would also add that I very much agree with the post preceding this one
relative to payscales for MD's vs PhD's.  As a PhD in a medical school
that difference is very apparent...MD's receive renumeration to a greater
degree than comparably qualified PhD's.  I've often wondered about the
relative valuation placed on the MD vs the PhD.  Both degrees require very
bright and energetic individuals to complete them.  However, there is an
intrinsic value placed on an MD that is not afforded a PhD.  I've often
heard, as I'm sure many other PhD's have, the comment "Oh, so you're not a
*real* doctor....", when they learn you have a PhD.  Well, frankly, I am a
real doctor, I earned that title every bit as much as an MD.  That is
something I've noted MD's as well tend to belittle......why, I have no
idea.  After all, if it weren't for us PhD types who provide the essential
core for a medical education, there would be no MD's around.  Something to
think about.

As a last comment relative to renumeration, I've also experienced the
commentary that "well, you receive what we do for research activities...."
(this from an MD).  That may well be the case.  However, there are
substantial differences, notably committee obligations, teaching
responsibilities, etc., which many MD's are not expected to participate in
as a matter of course.  And per the pay differentials....well, all of the
MD's I know who are salaried through universities or med schools also have
supplementary income augmentation from seeing patients.......something a
PhD does not have.  Again, something to think about when comparing "raw
salary numbers".

Thanks again for the kind comments regarding my earlier post.

Best wishes for the holidays.

Dr. Marc Wiles
George Washington University Medical School

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