MD/PhD: Becoming a Doctor-Doctor

This column explores the MD/PhD career track from a current trainee’s perspective, including the benefits and challenges of pursuing two doctoral degrees simultaneously, time management and life balance, and post-graduation training and career opportunities.

Emilia Calvaresi (6 Posts)

Columnist

University of Illinois College of Medicine


Emilia Calvaresi grew up in Chicago, IL, and in 2009 completed a BS in biochemistry and cell biology and a BA in English from Rice University in Houston, TX. Then, deciding to delay the onset of entering the "real world" indefinitely, she chose to pursue the MD/PhD career track, matriculating to the UIUC Medical Scholars Program (MSP) in 2009. She is currently pursuing both an MD and a PhD in biochemistry.

MD/PhD: Becoming a Doctor-Doctor

This column explores the MD/PhD career track from a current trainee’s perspective, including the benefits and challenges of pursuing two doctoral degrees simultaneously, time management and life balance, and post-graduation training and career opportunities.




Figuring Out What I Want to Be “When I Grow Up”

As a newly-minted third-year medical student, I’m now reaching the point where I finally have to decide what I want to be “when I grow up.” (I use that term very loosely since I’m in my late 20s, have spent 23 years of my life in school, and already have one doctorate degree). Which areas of medicine should I pursue? Do I want my future practice to be clinically-oriented, research-oriented, academically-oriented or all of the above?

The Research-to-Medicine Culture Shock

Now that I have finished my PhD and moved on to the rest of my medical training, the last few months have been an interesting change of pace. Since I took first-year medical school classes piecemeal while spending the majority of my time working on my doctoral research, being a full-time medical student now is a new experience (and a culture shock in some ways) for me! I’ve had to reevaluate the utility of my …

Life after the Ph.D. (with the M.D. Still to Go)

As an MD/PhD student, I’ve always understood that the training process would be neither easy nor brief. After five years as a biochemistry graduate student, I successfully defended my doctoral dissertation and earned a PhD in July. In August, I’ll be a full-time medical student, with three more years of medical school to go. As I’ve wrapped up the graduate school era of my life, I’ve thought a fair deal about what I’ll miss, what I won’t …

Reflections on Applying to MD/PhD Programs

I recently sat in on a luncheon with a few other current MD/PhD students as we chatted with, and fielded questions from, half a dozen applicants to our program. This brought back a multitude of memories from my own admissions season five years ago. I’ve also had plenty of experiences in the past few years interacting with talented undergraduates who are considering applying to MD/PhD programs, so I’d like to share some reflections on my process, …

Life Management as a Medical (and Graduate) Student

As a member of the Medical Scholars Program at UIUC for the last 4.5 years, I have been pursuing a doctorate in the hard sciences while simultaneously completing the first-year medical school curriculum. This may seem like a daunting task (and the majority of the time, it is!) and pursuing a career in medicine under any circumstances is very challenging. In addition to the demands of medical coursework, there are always familial and personal relationships, hobbies, …

Choosing the MD/PhD Journey

It’s hard to say what motivates my fellow MD/PhD trainees to pursue the physician-scientist career track.  In some ways, we’re a masochistic group, voluntarily choosing to spend seven to 10 years in the prime of our lives completing two doctoral degrees instead of one, then spending another four to eight years or more in residency, research residency, postdoctoral and possibly fellowship training before seeking a “real” job.  Even for those of us who started our …

Emilia Calvaresi (6 Posts)

Columnist

University of Illinois College of Medicine


Emilia Calvaresi grew up in Chicago, IL, and in 2009 completed a BS in biochemistry and cell biology and a BA in English from Rice University in Houston, TX. Then, deciding to delay the onset of entering the "real world" indefinitely, she chose to pursue the MD/PhD career track, matriculating to the UIUC Medical Scholars Program (MSP) in 2009. She is currently pursuing both an MD and a PhD in biochemistry.

MD/PhD: Becoming a Doctor-Doctor

This column explores the MD/PhD career track from a current trainee’s perspective, including the benefits and challenges of pursuing two doctoral degrees simultaneously, time management and life balance, and post-graduation training and career opportunities.