October 17, 1990

Educators Say MD-PhD Degree Programs Make Sense, But Prove It

Author Affiliations

and Andrew Skolnick

and Andrew Skolnick

JAMA. 1990;264(15):1919-1920. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03450150017003

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ORGANIZERS of the first national symposium on the education of physician-scholars have released preliminary recommendations that call for a study of the success of medical-scholar training programs in preparing the nation's future medical leaders.

The symposium held last November at the University of Illinois College of Medicine, Urbana-Champaign, included medical educators, MD-PhD-degree candidates, and government and corporate representatives. Among the issues discussed at the meeting, one especially nagging question remains unanswered: Are combined degree programs better than sequential degree programs in developing medical researchers, educators, and leaders?

While the participants concurred on the need for well-trained physician-scientists, many questioned whether sufficient data exist to evaluate these programs. Most of the existing data that favor the combined programs are anecdotal, they say.

James Blankenship, PhD, director of the MD-PhD program at the University of Texas Medical School, Galveston, however, says he has observed that concurrent-degree students become especially successful researchers. He