Research degree

MD

Career stage:ST3+

MDs usually involve a 2 year ‘clinical fellowship’, with protected research time combined with some clinical duties oriented around the research.  MDs often involve the set up and management of clinical studies.  To successfully complete a MD a candidate is required to submit a thesis involving original research.  They are funded in a wide variety of ways, such as programme grants to institutions or charity funding.  Positions are usually allocated locally, with applications made to individual centres.  Because of their significant clinical component, MDs are usually taken during specialist training.

PhD

Career stage: Any

PhDs take 3-4 years and like MDs involve formal research training.  PhDs are usually more focused on scientific questions than the clinical management of studies although there is a highly variable spectrum.  For those considering a career as a clinician scientist, a MD or PhD is considered mandatory.  PhDs are most often undertaken as OOPE during specialist training, but can be taken at any time during medical training.

There are well-established national schemes that fund clinicians to undertake PhDs, secured through a competitive grant application process.  For these you will have to have identified a project and a supervisor well in advance, to allow adequate time for the application.  Similarly there are a number of national charitable schemes.  Often there will be local opportunities available funded through hospitals, academic institutions and charities.

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