What after MBBS – MD or MS?

As an aspiring doctor, you know you got to do an MBBS. But are you sure about choosing between MD or MS? If not, you are not alone. But now you can put those nagging doubts to rest as shiksha.com brings you some professional advice from those who’ve been there, done that! Our correspondent Madiha Jawed got in touch with a couple of established doctors in the country and we hope the feedback helps you make the right choice.

What is the difference between MS and MD?

MS is postgraduate degree in general surgery while MD is the postgraduate degree in general medicine. Both are pursued only after MBBS.

Delving deeper, dermatologist Dr Santosh Shinde says, “MS is for some fields where more of surgical expertise and skills are required. Whereas, MD is mostly non-surgical, but there are some branches where surgery can be part of MD. There are various branches where a MBBS graduate can pursue MS or MD. The decision should be taken depending on one’s choice of subject. But because of growing competition this may not be possible all the time. After MD or MS, one can join a medical college as teaching faculty, start own practice, can apply for job in government health sector or corporate hospitals”.

What are the future prospects of MS and MD?

“The prospects of MS and MD are generally the same. A person who completes MS becomes a surgeon while the one who takes up MD is a physician. A physician cannot be a surgeon, while surgeon can work in place of a physician with more study of medicine. Financially, a surgeon can earn a lot more money that a physician, if he or she is good and skilled,” informs Dr KP Haridas (MS), chairman and managing director, Lords Hospital, Trivandrum, Kerala.

Dr Manjiri Patankar Puranik (MD) too shares similar thoughts and says, “Both fields have good future prospects. It is what the person is interested in and what her or his aptitude is. Some like to do surgeries while others like it without it.”

However, Dr Roy (MD) feels, ”The prospects of both the fields are equally good, but financially surgical specialties are more rewarding, although the incubation period is longer in the surgical fields”.

Can a person who has done MD also pursue MS?

“There is no need because each is a separate field; the choice should be between surgery and medicine. However, not everyone should take up the field of surgery as it is an art blended with science. It is a creative discipline, and requires lots of skill, talent and passion to excel,” says Dr Haridas.

“Theoretically speaking, a person who has done MD can do MS too. But practically, no one does it. Nowadays, people take up super-speciality like Cardiology, Eurology & Neurology because medical science is very advanced and treatment of each organ is very complicated,” informs Dr Puranik.

According to Dr Roy, One can if one wishes to, but there is no point as MD and MS are different approaches and time to cover both of them will be too long to gain any relevant experience in one field.”

Popular specializations in MD & MS

Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Orthopaedics, Neurology and Anaesthesiology, Cardiology, Endocrinology, Gynaecology, Internal medicine, Paediatric, Psychiatry, Dermatology, Radio-Diagnosis, Pathology Paediatric surgery, Plastic surgery, Cardio-thoracic surgery, Urology, Cardiac surgery, Cosmetic surgery, ENT, Ophthalmology, Gynaecology, Obstetrics, Orthopaedics

Years of study needed for both?

Generally, it takes three years to complete MD or MS “but for a super specialisation, a student needs to spend two years more after MD or MS,” informs Dr Puranik.

What’s the initial salary with MD/ MS?

Dr Puranik explains, “After pursuing post-graduation and super-speciality, there are two choices. Either work in a hospital as a lecturer to gain more experience or start own private practice attaching oneself to a private hospital. In the teaching profession, one can earn upto Rs 30,000-50,000 per month, whereas in private, it completely depends on amount of practice done.”

“The salary that a surgeon can get depends a lot on the skill and talent of the person. On an average, a surgeon can expect to get a salary of Rs 75,000 to one lakh per month after MS. Skilled surgeons can earn more,” says Dr Haridas.

The kind of city, clinic or hospital set-up and medical specialisation of the doctor too make a difference in the earning potential. Dr Roy adds, “The initial salary after MD or MS may vary from city to city; in Delhi it is around Rs 50,000 - 60,000/ month.” Dr Shinde observes, “Initial salary after PG can be 1 to 1.5 lakh per month. But then it depends on set-up and specialisation”.

What exams to prepare for after MBBS?

Aspirants need to take the Common Entrance Test - NEET PG (National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test for Medical Postgraduate Courses – MD/MS/Diploma) after completing their MBBS. Dr Puranik says, “CET papers include syllabus of all three years of medical (1st, 2nd & 3rd year). The branch is chosen during counselling.”

However, “Students have to know their choice and interest, so it will be easy for them to choose the stream, as it’s a life time career.

If interested, students can also go for medical exams conducted by private medical universities in India,” says Dr Shinde.

What’s a more popular choice in India – MD or MS?

The choice between MS and MD should be made carefully by a student as per individual aptitude. Dr Haridas shares some advice: “The choice between surgery and medicine is entirely up to the candidate. For a candidate who gets fearful at the sight of blood, surgery is not an option. Surgery is best recommended for those with a passion for it. In my case, I would choose surgery several times over. Surgery takes the right mix of knowledge, artistic skill, hard work, commitment and above all, passion. Surgery is an art blended with science.”

Dr Puranik observes, Students in India are opting for MD & MS more or less in equal ratio. Moreover, now people have come up with different types of employment under medical science. Sometimes after MBBS, people take up MBA in hospital administration, HR, etc for placements in pharma companies, corporate hospitals, etc. Some do IAS and then get into governance of health & medical services.”

Best institutes to study MD/ MS

According to doctors, listed below are some of the best institutes (in no particular order) from where a student can pursue MS or MD:

Pointing to the gaps in the selection system, Dr Haridas suggests: “Presently, admission to MS and MD is regulated by a common entrance test. This is borne out of short-sighted policy, which fails to bring out the right talent. A person wanting to become a surgeon and with the skill and passion of a surgeon might end up becoming a physician for want of a sufficient rank in the entrance test. Most often, many candidates end up studying the specialty they get without bothering to go through the strain of repeating the entrance test the next year. To circumvent this and to ensure that right people get into the right specialties, there is a need for separate entrance tests for medicine and surgery. This will enable the creation of a quality pool of physicians and surgeons across the country.”

He adds, “There is also the need for strengthening the Diplomate of National Board and elevating it to the stature of FRCS or MRCP. Since private hospitals boast of more advanced medical technologies when compared to the public sector, students should be given the opportunity to take up training also from recognised private hospitals.”