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Still reasonable to pursue a medical science PhD?

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Re: Still reasonable to pursue a medical science PhD?

Postby Nate J » Thu Dec 13, 2012 7:50 pm

MSR wrote:Okay, here is an analogous situation...

What are the chances of me doing some self-teaching and going to consult for Ernst and Young? If they don't want to work with me, then I'll just say that they're not open-minded. After all, a CPA is merely a credential. I can learn everything I need to know on the internet. They should find me credible simply based on my own assertions and my ability to reference the tax code.

Make sense now?


Science and accounting aren't very analogous. There are a lot of high level positions an accountant can reach without a CPA. The designation is more required in public accounting, such as E&Y, because of the laws requiring it in the nature of public acct. work; but aside from it an accountant can indeed reach high positions without a CPA in industry and elsewhere. A similar example that comes to mind in my experience is my professor of a higher level accounting course this fall. Although a PhD is usually the requirement to teach in accounting instead of a CPA, the most this professor has is a masters degree, and the guy is arguably the most astute, precise, and generally most intelligent professor in the department with regard to the complexity of accounting laws and concepts.

So it's good you brought that up. My experience at least in accounting and academic accounting has shown that licenses and designations only absolutely exclude the non-licensed where there are laws requiring the license in order to perform a role, such as in public accounting where CPAs are required after a certain level. Outside of public accounting, CPAs certainly make one more marketable, but they aren't absolutely necessary if you have ways to compensate.

This is why I find it reasonable to be published if I have thoroughly done my homework on the matter in nearly equivalent scope and detail I would have done in pursuit of a PhD. If two papers are exactly identical except that the author of one has a PhD and the other does not, I'm curious if the former has a better paper than the latter? To my knowledge from what I've read, a PhD is not required to be accepted in a journal, and there are also no laws requiring it.
Last edited by Nate J on Thu Dec 13, 2012 8:04 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Still reasonable to pursue a medical science PhD?

Postby Nate J » Thu Dec 13, 2012 8:02 pm

V wrote:Nate, I think you can do double major in your current studies, second one would be mathematics. Do part time MA mathematics, in/after 2014. With a degree in mathematics, you could apply for part time PhD in neurology, and do your research on depression/whatever (while continuing you money making job).


That's an interesting idea especially since not long ago I had considered double majoring in math. It's a subject I enjoy, although I don't feel talented at it, but I didn't know it lead well to the sciences. Does it only lead well to neurology or other sciences too? And although my interests seem to sometimes be associated with or on the periphery of neurology, I'm not sure that would be the best fitting discipline (but it could be). I'm just afraid of pigeonholing myself.
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Re: Still reasonable to pursue a medical science PhD?

Postby Andy Spencer » Fri Dec 14, 2012 1:22 am

Image

See Bureau of Labor Statistics for additional information (http://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_chart_001.htm), including average weekly salary. Average weekly salary for Ph.D. holders trails that only of people holding professional degrees.

Bottom line: Going to grad school makes sense IF YOU WANT TO GO TO GRAD SCHOOL. It's far from just a financial decision, but you will do better on average financially if you get a graduate degree.

Good luck to all,

Andy
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Re: Still reasonable to pursue a medical science PhD?

Postby Mark L. » Fri Dec 14, 2012 8:06 am

Perhaps a crazy idea, but...Have you considered working as an accountant until you are 50 and then starting a PhD? The interesting work with low salary and near zero prospect of career advancement would make a nice semi-retirement. Here your goal would be to do the longest PhD possible and stretch out your entire training until you are actually ready to retire.
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Re: Still reasonable to pursue a medical science PhD?

Postby Nate J » Fri Dec 14, 2012 11:41 am

Mark L. wrote:Perhaps a crazy idea, but...Have you considered working as an accountant until you are 50 and then starting a PhD? The interesting work with low salary and near zero prospect of career advancement would make a nice semi-retirement. Here your goal would be to do the longest PhD possible and stretch out your entire training until you are actually ready to retire.


I thought about this last night. I aim to be financially independent by mid-30's, so I could theoretically enroll in a PhD program by say, 36, if in the meantime I took prereq classes part time before that. Then I'd have a second career by 40.

But you say to do a long PhD? Why long?
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Re: Still reasonable to pursue a medical science PhD?

Postby P.C. » Fri Dec 14, 2012 12:23 pm

I think what he is suggesting is get financially situated with your accounting career, then do a long part time PhD while still working full or part time as an accountant.
As for Andy Spenser's data on employment rates, I want to remind him of a quip popularized by Mark Twain: "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics".
I would suggest that the method of that the data is gathered highly squews the figures. It counts self-reporting persons, and discounts all those that quietly leave the profession of science, and report themselves under some other profession.
Last edited by P.C. on Tue Dec 18, 2012 8:51 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Still reasonable to pursue a medical science PhD?

Postby E.K.L. » Fri Dec 14, 2012 1:14 pm

[quote="Nate J"][quote="V"]Nate, I think you can do double major in your current studies, second one would be mathematics. Do part time MA mathematics, in/after 2014. With a degree in mathematics, you could apply for part time PhD in neurology, and do your research on depression/whatever (while continuing you money making job).[/quote]

That's an interesting idea especially since not long ago I had considered double majoring in math. It's a subject I enjoy, although I don't feel talented at it, but I didn't know it lead well to the sciences. Does it only lead well to neurology or other sciences too? And although my interests seem to sometimes be associated with or on the periphery of neurology, I'm not sure that would be the best fitting discipline (but it could be). I'm just afraid of pigeonholing myself.[/quote]

Plenty of medical/biological research needs mathematicians. Epidemiology for example relies heavily on statistics, so you could try looking for people working on epidemiology of neurological or psychological disorders, if that interests you. Contact them and ask; the worst thing that can happen is that they don't write you back.
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Re: Still reasonable to pursue a medical science PhD?

Postby Mark L. » Fri Dec 14, 2012 5:15 pm

Sorry if I was unclear. A PhD followed by post doc is an extremely rewarding experience. The only problem is that you will likely not have a career after your training. If, however, you were to work in another field until you were of age 50, then the whole problem of finding a career after your training would be removed. What I am proposing is that you should work in your financially stable career until you are 50, then do a 6-year PhD (age 56), then do 2 post docs, and you essentially arrive at retirement age.
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Re: Still reasonable to pursue a medical science PhD?

Postby Nate J » Fri Dec 14, 2012 6:07 pm

Mark L. wrote:Sorry if I was unclear. A PhD followed by post doc is an extremely rewarding experience. The only problem is that you will likely not have a career after your training. If, however, you were to work in another field until you were of age 50, then the whole problem of finding a career after your training would be removed. What I am proposing is that you should work in your financially stable career until you are 50, then do a 6-year PhD (age 56), then do 2 post docs, and you essentially arrive at retirement age.


Thanks, but when you say I likely won't have a career after it, is it because of the age? My foremost goal is to have some impact, however small, on the science I'm interested in, rather than just the designation of PhD.
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Re: Still reasonable to pursue a medical science PhD?

Postby P.C. » Fri Dec 14, 2012 10:35 pm

Getting a PhD at 50 in all probablility means that you would not be able to get paid for doing the science. You might be able to do it as a volunteer, but who knows, someone might hire you as a post-doc.
But the chances of getting a regular position seem a very long shot.
There may be some age discrimination.
My high school friend got a PhD in astrophysics at 55. But he is independantly wealthy, and has a thriving professional photography buisiness. He is a figure in the Maine Amateur Astronomy Association.
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