Strategies for Supporting Physician–Scientists in Faculty Roles: A Narrative Review With Key Informant Consultations

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Abstract

Purpose

Physician–scientists are a population in decline globally. Solutions to reverse this decline often have focused on the training pipeline. Less attention has been paid to reducing attrition post training, when physician–scientists take up faculty roles. However, this period is a known time of vulnerability because of the pressures of clinical duties and the long timeline to securing independent research funding. This narrative review explored existing knowledge regarding how best to support physician–scientists for success in their faculty roles.

Method

The authors searched the Medline, Embase, ERIC, and Cochrane Library databases for articles published from 2000 to 2016 on this topic and interviewed key informants in 2015 to solicit their input on the review results.

Results

The authors reviewed 78 articles and interviewed 16 key informants. From the literature, they developed a framework of organizational (facilitate mentorship, foster community, value the physician–scientist role, minimize financial barriers) and individual (develop professional and research skills) strategies for supporting physician–scientists. They also outlined key knowledge gaps representing topics either rarely or never addressed in the reviewed articles (percent research time, structural hypocrisy, objective assessment, group metrics, professional identity). The key informants confirmed the identified strategies and discussed how the gaps were particularly important and impactful.

Conclusions

This framework offers a basis for assessing an organization’s existing support strategies, identifying outstanding needs, and developing targeted programming. The identified gaps require attention, as they threaten to undermine the benefits of existing support strategies.

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