thanks, "basic science" and small colleges

Deb Britt Deborah_Britt at
Tue Nov 19 14:10:13 EST 1996

In article <a-schmi-1711962208480001 at>,
a-schmi at (aloisia schmid) wrote:

> I just wanted to add two things.  So many women in science that I know are
> now saying that they plan to go to medical school because that is the easy
> way out.  And in a way it is.  It's more secure.  And what's interesting
> is that these women--and men, for that matter-- who go to medical school
> after all of this time and sweat in academic research, will probably be
> better doctors than their non-PhD counterparts. 
> I had to have surgery a few years ago and was absolutely appalled at how
> my orthopedic surgeons and GPs knew absolutely NOTHING about basic
> neuroscience and cell biology. (snip)

(Oops-I noticed that I accidentially posted a message that I started
yesterday, but didn't complete-my apologies, and here is the correct
post).  As far as going from PhD to medical school, I would caution that
with the changing climate of health care, an MD is no longer necessarily a
ticket to the good life.  Personally I would have no desire to add four
years of med schood on top of my graduate training, but I have known
people who have done it.  As far as most MD's knowing little about basic
science, I have to agree.  The training paths for MD's and PhD's are very
different, and I should think that there is only so much knowledge you can
cram into one head, so it is unrealistic to expect someone trained as a
physician to know as much basic science as someone trained as a
researcher.  I do know some MD's who have very excellent and productive
research programs.  I have also met some that think they can just start up
a project, without ever bothering to learn basic research skills.  

It's great to see all the new posts, and learn a bit about people's
backgrounds.  I never realized what a varied group we have here.  For my
part, I earned a BS in Microbiology from Oregon State University, then 
jumped across the country to get a PhD at the University of Rhode Island,
also in micro. I had no plans to stay after I was done, but in grad school
I met my husband-to-be and had to find a post-doc locally until he was
done.  I ended up at a local hospital, in the molecular biology lab,
working on mapping human chromosome 9 as part of the human genome
project.  I spent four years there, and had two children during that time
(talk about a productive postdoc!).  A position opened up in medical
oncology, and I jumped at the opportunity, and have been doing cancer
research (cloning tumor antigens, developing a targeted retroviral
vector)  for the past 18 months.  I suppose my career has really followed
opportunities that opened up to me, rather than sticking with one
particular resesarch track. I certainly enjoy what I am doing now, and
working at the hospital is a unique experience.  I have a faculty
appointment (Asst. Prof-research) at Brown University, but actually work
at the hospital, and my teaching is primarily on the one-on-one level,
with students coming to my lab to do honors research projects.  Like
anyone else, I suppose, sometimes I find being a working mom/scientist
fantastic, and sometimes difficult and discouraging.

Looking forward to hearing other people's stories-

Deb Britt

Deborah Britt, Ph.D.
Department of Medical Oncology
Rhode Island Hospital

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