Hey guys, I've been in a quandary for quite a while now and I thought I'd ask you, since there seem to be a fair number of PhDs (and MDs, too?) floating around about here. I would just like some advice. I'm going to lay out my situation and I hope some of you who have had experience with this stuff can help advise me. Ok, so I'm a sophomore in undergrad. I'm taking the MCAT this summer. I've been guaranteed a seat in Northwestern University Medical School, but I'm thinking about applying out to some other schools. I'd like to apply to Harvard, Duke, and Johns Hopkins. I doubt I'll get into any of them, because my grades need some work. My dream school would be Harvard, because they have the best med school in the country and the #2 neuroscience department in the country. And that brings me to my question. The NIH Medical Scientists Training MD/PhD Program. I've been debating doing both an MD and a PhD for a while and I'd likely only do it through MSTP, because it pays full tuition+$20k stipend. It's a sweet deal. But how will these degrees play into my life? I'm graduating from college in two years and I'll be 19. So I saved a couple years here and there. If I just do my MD, then I'll be 23 when I get out of med school. I want to do neurosurgery, so I'll be 28 when I'm done with everything. If I do an MD/PhD...Let's say I do neuroscience at Harvard (I'm not going to get into the program, or into med school period at harvard, but let's just set up a hypothetical). I spend two years doing the class part of med school. I'm 21. Then, I spend five years earning my PhD. I'm 26. I go back and finish my MD, and I'm 28. I do my residency, I'm at the ripe age of 33, ready to enter the workforce. But before I enter the workforce under either track, I want to do Doctors Without Borders for a couple of years. Now, under the MD track, that would be fine. I imagine I'll be married by the time I'm done with residency either way (so probably before the age of 28, just a guess), but under the MD track, I likely wouldn't have kids. So, especially if I married a similarly-inclined doctor, it would be easy to do Doctors Without Borders in Afghanistan or something. But under the MD/PhD program, I'd be 33. If I got married before 28, then I'd likely have kids at the age of 33. It would be hard to go do Doctors Without Borders for a couple of years. If I put off the whole starting a family thing until I'm back from Doctors Without Borders, I'll be around 34 or 35. That's quite old to marry someone and start a family, I imagine, especially since I would want to wait a little bit before having kids. So I'd be an old man sending my children off to college. Not exactly what I'd call ideal. So I'm not sure what I should do or if there's something I'm missing. I need to figure out whether I'm going to take the GRE and apply to this program soon, but I'm not even sure whether it's something that I would want. Professionally, I'd like to be on faculty at a university doing some research and teaching. However, and this is a big however, I still want to be involved deeply with patient care. I want to do surgeries and see patients, and so I'd like (maybe?) to have a private practice on the side or to make sure that I'm pretty heavy on the clinical rotations on the job. I know that if I want to be on faculty, research will be important, but I'd really ideally like to balance it out so I'm doing some of all three (practice, teaching, research). Is that even doable? Would a PhD help me? What are the real benefits of doing MD/PhD, anyway? Thanks for answering my questions and offering advice.