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Future Directions of Training Physician–Scientists

Reimagining and Remeasuring the Workforce

Bensken, Wyatt P.; Nath, Avindra, MD; Heiss, John D., MD; Khan, Omar I., MD

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000002581
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In academic medicine, the attrition of the physician–scientist workforce has been significantly discussed for the past three decades, with substantial attention and funding targeted to stop this attrition and attempt to reinvigorate the workforce. Despite these concerns and efforts, the attrition has not been stopped or even significantly slowed, and thus a further understanding of the physician–scientist workforce is needed with a closer look at how this workforce is measured and quantified. Through reviewing three methods by which physician–scientists are identified and understood, limitations in these definitions arise, leading to the basic question: Who qualifies to be a physician–scientist? Answering this question may lead to developing more comprehensive and less restrictive approaches when qualifying and measuring the physician–scientist workforce and appreciating the varying contributions physicians make to research. Through suggesting an expanded appreciation of these research contributions, recognition of collaboration, and funding models that support both of these aspects, the authors hope to add to the conversation by challenging traditional approaches and encouraging movement toward forward-looking definitions that encourage and promote all physicians to engage with research. This reimagining of physician–scientists will result not just in a remeasuring of the workforce but, subsequently, in strengthening the clinical and translational research continuum as well.

W.P. Bensken is a postbaccalaureate fellow, Medical Education Unit, Office of the Clinical Director, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.

A. Nath is clinical director and senior investigator, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.

J.D. Heiss is chair and residency program director, Surgical Neurology Branch, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.

O.I. Khan is director, Medical Education Unit, and fellowship program director, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.

Funding/Support: This research was supported by the Intramural Research Program of the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Other disclosures: None reported.

Ethical approval: Reported as not applicable.

Correspondence should be addressed to Omar I. Khan, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, 9000 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD 20892; telephone: (301) 594-4669; e-mail: omar.khan@nih.gov.

Written work prepared by employees of the Federal Government as part of their official duties is, under the U.S. Copyright Act, a “work of the United States Government” for which copyright protection under Title 17 of the United States Code is not available. As such, copyright does not extend to the contributions of employees of the Federal Government.

© 2019 by the Association of American Medical Colleges