An MD/PhD is someone who has both a medical degree and a PhD (usually in a scientific discipline). Each year approximately 200 MD/PhDs graduate from medical colleges in the US with MD/PhD programs. MD/PhD programs are designed to prepare students for a career in academic medicine. Students who pursue MD/PhD degrees are primarily interested in biomedical research, although they may hope to teach and/or to have a limited clinical practice. Completion of both degrees generally takes 6 to 8 years. The most common format is: 2 years of medical school training; 3 years for Ph.D. research and dissertation; and, depending on the school, 1 or 2 years for completion of medical school requirements.
Students who are admitted to MD/PhD programs are generally awarded funding for medical school tuition and a stipend; some schools, however, offer support solely for the Ph.D. portion of the program. Many medical schools have combined MD/PhD programs. The NIGMS (the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, a division of the National Institutes of Health) sponsors MD/PhD programs known as Medical Scientist Training Programs (MSTP). While some universities sponsor MD/PhD students without NIH/NIGMS sponsorship, the most well-recognized programs are MSTPs.
Here is some background/info. on the MD/PhD option from the AAMC website:
MD-PhD programs provide training in both medicine and research. They are specifically designed for those who want to become research physicians, also known as physician-investigators or physician-scientists. Graduates of MD-PhD programs often go on to become faculty members at medical schools, universities and research institutes.
Regardless of where they eventually work, MD-PhD candidates are being prepared for careers in which they will spend most of their time doing research, in addition to caring for patients. The MD-PhD dual career is busy, challenging, rewarding, and offers opportunities to do good for many people by advancing knowledge, developing new treatments for diseases, and pushing back the boundaries of the unknown.
The AAMC GREAT Group (Group on Graduate Research, Education, and Training
The AAMC GREAT Group provides professional development to, and fosters the exchange of information and ideas among, the faculty and administrative leaders of biomedical PhD, MD-PhD, and postdoctoral programs. The Group functions as a national forum to help these programs achieve their goal of educating successful biomedical researchers.
Medical Science Training Program
In 1964 the National Institute of General Medical Science (NIGMS) established the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP). This program encourages and supports the training of students with outstanding credentials and potential who are motivated to undertake careers in biomedical research and academic medicine. MSTP students participate in an integrated program of graduate training in the biomedical sciences and clinical training offered through medical schools. Graduates receive the combined M.D.-Ph.D. degree, and the majority of them pursue careers in basic biomedical or clinical research.
The National Institutes of Health Intramural Research Program
The NIH Intramural Research Program allows MD/PhD students to obtain all or part of their research training in one of the more than one thousand biomedical research laboratories in the NIH intramural research program and maintain eligibility for medical school training at most of the MSTP-funded M.D./Ph.D. programs around the country. For most students in this program, the Ph.D. is obtained from one of the NIH's graduate partnership Ph.D. programs (http://gpp.nih.gov/).
ADDITIONAL MD/PhD RESOURCES:
The AAMC is an excellent resource...the following pages are part of their larger website.
Why Pursue an MD/PhD?
Directory of MD/PhD Programs in U.S. and Canada
Summary of MD/PhD Programs and Policies
Medical Science Track Programs (the application)
Summer Undergraduate Research Experiences
AAMC Frequently Asked Questions
OTHER MD/PhD FAQ SITES:
Perspective: Three Crucial Questions When Applying to MD/PhD Programs
MDPhDs.Org (check this out!)
Summary of MD/PhD Programs and Policies
Generic FAQ for MD-PhD Program Applicants (University of Pennsylvania)
FAQ's About the MD/PhD Program (University of Georgia)
Live Videocast at the 2012 National Institutes of Health Graduate & Professional Conference