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Ask the Program Director:

What is the best way to pursue a combined academic/clinical career in IM and its subspecialties, especially if one's pre-medical education does not include a PhD? Should one pursue research or a PhD?

Program Director 1 Response
A chief resident year can be a stepping stone to an academic career. One should also look into general internal medicine fellowships.

Program Director 2 Response
It is not enough to simply state this interest during the interview or on a personal statement. There should be some evidence through special rotations, evidence of scholarly work, etc. A strong letter from a professor or mentor with whom the student has worked or published and who can vouch for their sincere interest in an academic career can be especially helpful.

Program Director 3 Response
One should consider clinical investigator tracks in residencies and the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) research pathway that allows combining significant research activity and clinical training during residency training.

Program Director 4 Response
Academic careers may have a variable amount of research needed and a PhD is not necessary unless one wants to be involved in research which involves basic science. Clinical investigator tracks are good options. There are academic medicine fellowships as well as chief residency that can help people on their journey to academic medicine careers in the clinical educator tract.

Program Director 5 Response
A PhD is, of course, excellent training if one is interested in pursuing an academic career, but many medical students will not have the time or resources to complete the requirements for a PhD. Students should definitely get involved in research and take any opportunities available for training in research design, research ethics/human subjects training, academic writing, etc.

Program Director 6 Response
It depends on what type of academic career you want. Most medical schools are recognizing at least two tracks: physician scientist or clinician educator. A PhD or an MPH degree can be very helpful in becoming a physician scientist. Fellowship training, either in a subspecialty or in a general internal medicine fellowship program is also a good method for pursuing either track. An MPH degree is often incorporated into fellowship programs interested in turning out academicians. A chief resident year is a very good way to pursue a clinician educator career. Either way, the student need best have an interest in writing since they will have to publish in either career path. Getting started as soon as possible and always having a publishable project you are working on is a good habit to get into.

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Ask the Program Director is a new feature that focuses on providing medical students practical advice to help them navigate the process of obtaining a residency position in internal medicine. Issues covered include: CV development, writing a personal statement, the Match process, residency program interviews, and more.

Back to February 2012 Issue of IMpact

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