The Career Doctor™
by Dr. Jacqueline Hornor Plumez
Looking for a first job? Thinking of changing careers?
Facing a lay-off? The Career Doctor™ is a Larchmont psychologist
specializing in career counseling. If you'd like to ask a question of
your own, use our anonymous form, and she
might answer you here. Read more about the Career Doctor here.
Contact information is here.
M.D. OR SHORTER DEGREE?
Dear Career Doctor:
I am twenty eight years old and I am about to begin a Physical Therapy
program in July. It is a three year degree -- two years of coursework
and one of clinical rotations. However, I am feeling that I may actually
want to go for an M.D./PhD combination - degree instead.
Physical Therapy is a wonderful career, but I feel that earning a combination
degree will afford me greater opportunities to make ground breaking
contributions to the medical field. I want to travel to other countries
where medical care is insufficient and make a difference. I want to
not only have patient contact but also to conduct research. I want to
be in Bangladesh performing surgery on children's cleft palates one
week and the next week complete routine physicals in an outpatient clinic
in America. I LOVE LEARNING and plan to be in school for the rest of
my life. I am well aware of what it would take to get into and complete
med school, and the financial burden.
I just don't want to go to Physical Therapy school because I am older.
When I have the Physical Therapy degree, I will go right into a research
oriented Ph.D. anyway. I could just graduate, make my $100,000 and help
people, but will I be upset at myself later?
The big difference between the work life of someone with an M.D. versus
a degree in Physical Therapy is the responsibility -- people with lower
level degrees usually have to work under the direction or guidance of
those with higher degrees, and their range of training/ability is usually
more narrow. You seem to want to be in charge and have a broad range
of experiences, so it sounds like medical school is the best choice
for you. However, since it will take awhile for you to apply to medical
school, why not see how you like Physical Therapy? If you do well, it
will probably improve your chances of getting into medical school.
You seem concerned about the financial burden of medical school, so
research the fact that some of the joint M.D./Ph.D. programs offer free
tuition. Since you seem interested in working with the poor, also research
government programs that pay for medical school for physicians who are
willing to join the armed services or work in rural or impoverished
Most doctors find it impossible to do what you want: "globe hop", conduct
significant research and make $100,000 a year. But some high energy,
altruistic physicians do all those things, especially those who volunteer
time with organizations like Doctors Without Borders.
The Career Doctor
The Career Doctor cannot answer every question here, and she does not
respond to personal emails. Please use this form to ask your question.
The Career Doctor™ is Larchmont
psychologist and career counselor, Dr. Jacqueline Hornor Plumez.
Her office is at 90 Beechtree Drive in Larchmont, 914-834-1982.