The Extra Degrees!!!

by Kenar Jhaveri, MD
Recommend to a Colleague/Friend

We spend four years in preparing to get to medical school. We spend another four years in medical school learning the human body to its utmost detail. Finally residency arrives…. and then perhaps fellowship of your choice. No one in this journey informs us about the different options and career pathways that are going to be available to us.
I wish someone talked to us about this towards of end of medical school. I wish someone told me that to be a researcher in this era, you need an extra degree: perhaps a degree of masters in clinical research or public health. I wish someone enlightened me about a path called clinician educator. If I knew these things, I would have done these extra degrees with medical school or prior to starting residency. Many of my friends are doing these extra degrees now to help write an NIH grant. Are these really necessary?? This could all have been prevented. Fellowship and Residency is a time to learn MEDICINE and learn about the process of disease and NOT in my opinion, getting an extra degree.

I wish someone had talked to me about MBA along with MD to be a better private practitioner. Some of my friends are doing this degree after being an attending for few years to obtain better rankings in hospitals. They also wish they had some of this training in medical school. Billing, administrative duties, scheduling all is part and parcel of medicine as well. Since we are in the service sector, not all of us might be as focused on these aspects of medicine.

I wish someone had talked to me about the role of a physician as a clinician educator. Perhaps obtaining an extra degree in education or a PhD in education can make you a better teacher. These are things that are told to you later by people in the field for many years. To be successful, get another degree!! Is the jargon lately!

I once was at an interview and I shared my research interests with the chief of the division. They told me, this is great but I suggest you also do an MPH while you are here. Great another degree!!!

Why can’t someone do something that comes to them naturally without spending more time in getting a degree. When I want to do some research, I will read up on the techniques and methods on how to do a project. Obviously, I am not going to blindly start a project. But do I really need a 3 year course for everything? We are life long learners, we learn as we see each patient and read about the disease. I believe that part of what you want to do comes from within you and the remainder from the opportunity provided to you.

A professor once told me, to go into academic medicine, you HAVE to have three years of fellowship or an extra degree. I don’t agree. It comes from within. You can have a 4-5 year fellowship or sometimes even a 7 year fellowship with extensive grants and research, but at the end, if the individual wants to do private practice, they WILL do private practice. You cannot fit a circle in a square. Making one size fits all doesn’t work in medicine.

As a physician, I still consider myself in training and I always will since it’s a field of constant learning. I would urge all who are in medical school to think of career paths early and go with your heart and choose what you like to do. I go to work and I love going to work. I enjoy what I do with utmost satisfaction. Seeing patients, teaching students, fellows and residents and working on projects with my friends at work. I enjoy being a clinician and an educator. Degrees are just in the name. Don’t go after them! Go after what you love doing the most!

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