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Med Educ. 2009 Apr;43(4):335-41. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2923.2008.03270.x.

Becoming an academic doctor: perceptions of scholarly careers.

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Office of Medical Education, School of Medicine, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, California 94143-0410, USA.



Despite a recognised need to prepare future faculty members, little research has been conducted on how best to accomplish this task, especially among learners and faculty members within research-intensive medical schools.


We interviewed 40 medical students, residents and faculty members from a single institution in the USA and asked questions about which careers the school does and should prepare individuals for, and the strengths of the institution for doing so. Interviews were conducted in person at a location chosen by the participant. All interviews were transcribed and coded using qualitative methods and software. The coding and themes were reviewed and discussed among members of the research team and verified by external reviewers.


We identified five themes related to becoming an academic doctor: early exposure to research; role models and mentoring; career pathways; interplay of personal and social factors, and career support for junior faculty members.


Results suggest that opportunities should be structured within undergraduate and graduate medical education to stimulate interest in careers as academic doctors and to aid junior faculty members to act as role models who can encourage learners to pursue careers in academic medicine.

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