I am about to finish my Bachelor Degree in Computer Engineering and Computational Biology, and planning to apply for a MD-PhD with focus on oncology. After talking to my academic advisers, I had very bad impressions about MD-PhD Program ("such a waste of time", "please just focus on one thing at the time"). However, it seems that such critiques are targeting the general approach of MD-PhD programs, and I still think that for the case of cancer research, it would benefit me a lot to gain the experiences in both.

To that extent, I have one question with two sides: Does earning an MD help improve my research as a PhD (for example, identify more significant and meaningful problems), and does earning a PhD side help me become a more skilled practicing oncologist?

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    This is a good question. A certain extended family member of mine earned a MD-PhD from one of the ivy league medical schools. Apparently, it was a good way to get a MD while being funded. Most become medical research professors. – Shion Jul 31 '13 at 17:59
  • possible duplicate of MD-Phd (MSTP): What are the benefits? – StrongBad Aug 2 '13 at 9:11
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    @Daniel. I'm aware of that post. My question is focusing on cancer research. – Silentio Aug 10 '13 at 15:16
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    If you are aware of a previous question that is similar and might be considered a duplicate, it is best to include a link in your question and explain why your new question is not a duplicate. – StrongBad Aug 10 '13 at 15:33

Since you indicated that you are focusing on oncology, it seems likely that a PhD will enhance your oncology practice. This thread on The Student Doctor Network explores the pros and cons of an MD-PhD in Radiation Oncology. The general consensus is that it is worthwhile if you plan to be active in research as an MD, otherwise it may be a waste of time, money, and energy.

As Shion mentioned in a comment, most MD-PhD's become medical research professors, while it sounds as though you will be in active medical practice. There is a possibility that having a PhD may exclude you from consideration by the hiring boards at non-research-focused institutions. At research-intensive insitutions, the PhD will probably help your case, and certainly can't hurt. It appears that many practicing physicians at top US cancer centers are MD-PhD's. See here, here, and here.

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