Becoming a Physician–Scientist: A View Looking Up From Base Camp

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Abstract

The process of becoming a physician–scientist is a long and often harrowing one. The author reflects on her own experience deciding to commit to a career as a physician–scientist and setting out on that career path. She identifies the largest challenges as the lack of clear direction to becoming a physician–scientist; the long lag time between the end of graduate medical education and becoming faculty, resulting in lower wages, less job security, and conflicts with personal goals; and a tension between traditional definitions of success and her own areas of interest. The author also reviews the advantages that led to her first faculty position as a physician–scientist: innovative educational programs that integrate medical and research training, financial support for physician investigators, a supportive educational milieu, and appropriately tailored promotion tracks. Advances on these three fronts could support increasing numbers of trainees pursuing careers as physician–scientists.

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