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Academic Medicine:
doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000000085
Commentaries

MD–PhD Training: Looking Back and Looking Forward

Bonham, Ann C. PhD

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Abstract

MD–PhD programs provide rigorous, integrated training for physician–scientists, enabling them to frame scientific questions in unique ways and to apply clinical insight to fundamental science. Few would question the influential contributions of MD–PhD physician–scientists in advancing medical science. In this issue of Academic Medicine, Jeffe et al affirm high levels of excellence in educational outcomes from MD–PhD training programs at U.S. MD-granting medical schools, especially programs that receive funding from the NIH Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP). The author of this commentary observes that, in the face of current economic pressures, comprehensive, longitudinal national outcomes data from MSTP- and non-MSTP-funded MD–PhD programs will help verify the value provided by MD–PhD physician–scientists. She proposes that MD–PhD programs should better prepare the next generation of physician–scientists for future research environments, which will provide new technologies, venues, and modalities. These research environments will be more closely integrated within health care delivery systems, extend into diverse communities and regions, and employ complex technologies. MD–PhD physician–scientists also will train and gain expertise in broadening areas of research, such as health policy, health economics, clinical epidemiology, and medical informatics. Program leaders are ideally situated to foster innovative learning environments and methodologies. By sharing their innovations, they can help ensure production of a diverse MD–PhD physician–scientist workforce, prepared to engage in myriad research opportunities to meet patient and population needs in a new environment.

© 2014 by the Association of American Medical Colleges

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