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Acad Med. 2017 Aug 8. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000001876. [Epub ahead of print]

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

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R.D. Ganetzky is an attending physician, Division of Human Genetics & Metabolic Diseases, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and assistant professor, Department of Pediatrics, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


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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