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U.S. Physician–Scientist Workforce in the 21st Century: Recommendations to Attract and Sustain the Pipeline

Salata, Robert, A.; Geraci, Mark, W.; Rockey, Don, C.; Blanchard, Melvin; Brown, Nancy, J.; Cardinal, Lucien, J.; Garcia, Maria; Madaio, Michael, P.; Marsh, James, D.; Todd, Robert, F., III

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000001950
Perspective: PDF Only

The U.S. physician–scientist (PS) workforce is invaluable to the nation’s biomedical research effort. It is through biomedical research that certain diseases have been eliminated, cures for others have been discovered, and medical procedures and therapies that save lives have been developed. Yet, the U.S. PS workforce has both declined and aged over the last several years. The resulting decreased inflow and outflow to the PS pipeline renders the system vulnerable to collapsing suddenly as the senior workforce retires. In November 2015, the Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine hosted a consensus conference on the PS workforce to address issues impacting academic medical schools, with input from early-career PSs based on their individual experiences and concerns. One of the goals of the conference was to identify current impediments in attracting and supporting PSs and to develop a new set of recommendations for sustaining the PS workforce in 2016 and beyond. This Perspective reports on the opportunities and factors identified at the conference and presents five recommendations designed to increase entry into the PS pipeline and nine recommendations designed to decrease attrition from the PS workflow.

R.A. Salata is STERIS Endowed Chair of Excellence in Medicine, professor, and chair, Department of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University, University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, Cleveland, Ohio.

M.W. Geraci is John B. Hickam Professor of Medicine and chair, Department of Medicine, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, Indiana.

D.C. Rockey is professor and chair, Department of Internal Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina.

M. Blanchard is professor and chief of medical education, Department of Internal Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri.

N.J. Brown is professor and chair, Department of Medicine, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee.

L.J. Cardinal is assistant professor and program director, Internal Medicine Residency Program, Stony Brook University School of Medicine, Stony Brook, New York, and John T. Mather Memorial Hospital, Port Jefferson, New York.

M. Garcia is associate professor and associate director, Internal Medicine Residency Program, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, Massachusetts.

M.P. Madaio is professor and chair, Department of Medicine, Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, Georgia.

J.D. Marsh is professor and chair, Department of Medicine, University of Arkansas for Medical Science, Little Rock, Arkansas.

R.F. Todd III is professor emeritus, Department of Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas.

Funding/Support: Funding for this conference was made possible (in part) by National Institutes of Health grant #1R13TR001399-01 from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences.

Other disclosures: None reported.

Ethical approval: Reported as not applicable.

Disclaimers: The views expressed in this publication and related written conference materials or publications do not necessarily reflect the official policies of the Department of Health and Human Services; nor do mentions of trade names, commercial practices, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.

Correspondence should be addressed to Robert A. Salata, Department of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University, University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, 11100 Euclid Ave., Cleveland, OH 44106; telephone: (216) 844-3293; e-mail:

© 2018 by the Association of American Medical Colleges