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Acad Med. 2012 May;87(5):662-7. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e31824d47e8.

Physician-scientists in Japan: attrition, retention, and implications for the future.

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Department of Planning, Information and Management, University of Tokyo Hospital, Japan.



To investigate career trends for physician-scientists in Japan.


The authors analyzed 1996-2008 biennial census survey data from Japan's national physician registry to examine trends over time in the numbers and proportion of physician-scientists by sex and years since registration. They also analyzed the transition of registered physicians into and out of the physician-scientist field across two sets of two consecutive surveys (1996-1998 and 2006-2008).


The number of physician-scientists between 1996 and 2008 was stable, with a low of 4,893 and a high of 5,325. The number of younger physician-scientists (those registered 0-4 years at the time of the surveys) declined sharply, however, from 828 in 1996 to 253 in 2008. The number of female physician-scientists increased from 528 in 1996 to 746 in 2008. Across the two survey periods, about 30% of physician-scientists left the career path, but this attrition was offset by about the same number of new individuals entering the field.


Although the total number of physician-scientists was relatively unchanged during the period studied, it is essential that educators and policy makers develop approaches to address underlying demographic changes to ensure an adequate age- and gender-balanced supply of physician-scientists in the future.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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