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When to do a PhD?

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I'm Oli and I'm from the UK. I had a question about when people think it would be worth doing a PhD, particularly because my current plan means I'll be a student for another 9 or so years (which isn't necessarily a bad thing!). Currently, I'm a third-year medical school student at Sussex university (medicine is an undergraduate degree in the UK, 5/6-years long) and will be doing an extra year for a BSc in developmental biology at Edinburgh University (so I'll be 25 when I graduate with a UK MBBS and BSc).


Developmental biology is a topic I love, and I've investigated it through summer projects, etc. etc (I currently don't want to be a medical doctor, but a biological researcher). At the moment I plan on doing a PhD in the topic and have identified some courses in the UK/America that I really like the look of. However (and assuming I get offers!), if I go on to do a PhD in America then I will be 31/32 by the time I graduate (assuming it takes the average 6 years to complete). In the UK I could do the courses and graduate at 29 or 28, but even this seems quite a long slop.


My questions are simply: do people think I am taking too long to get into research (i.e. graduating at 31), and do people think it's more advantageous to graduate younger so you can spend longer researching as a career? The difference in the time it would take me to graduate is a considerable 3 years (although I come more and more to realise that age isn't that important in the long run, at least I think so?!?). I am looking at this as if I would be doing my best research when I am younger and also in terms of competing for post-docs and so on (which would take longer to reach if I graduate later etc etc.).


If anyone can offer any advice (or just get through this essay!) then I really appreciate it!



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In the UK you can do Md/Phd, but only at UCL, and the people I really want to work with are elsewhere (plus I don't really fancy being in London). The reason I am thinking of doing a PhD is to gain skills and experiences my MBBS/BSc won't give me enough of, namely lab experience and techniques, publishing developmental biology articles, and generally the ability to do high-level research (which I don't think I could get through my MBBS/BSc course). Thanks for your advice though!

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