Academic Medicine Anyone?

Home Forums General Discussion Academic Medicine Anyone?

Viewing 6 posts - 1 through 6 (of 6 total)
  • Author
  • #19434

    Hi there!

    I am a woman (and mom-hopeful) considering a career in academic medicine (still working on prereqs, though!!). So I am hoping for some advice or info from those of you on a similar path. There isn’t a lot of info out there, and I want to start preparing early!

    Are you satisfied with your career decision, if you are already in academic med? Do you feel like there is a good balance between clinical and research? Is the pay comensurate with others in your area of specialty? Do you have enough time with your family? Did you have to have a PhD too, or can one get by with the MD? (I will be 33 when I enter med school, so time is an important issue.) So many questions, I’m sorry! But anything you could add here, long or short, would be really appreciated.



    Honestly, it’s tough to make this type of decision so early in your career path. It’s so hard to know what type of medicine you’ll want to practice…and even when you think you know, you very well may change your mind. I’d recommend waiting a bit before you make (or attempt to make) a decision. Changing your mind can cost you time.

    You can most definately do research (and *only* research) if you want to with an MD. Actually, I (personally) don’t see any advantage of obtaining an MD and a PhD. Usually I think the balance between clinical and research is determined by you. Also, let’s not forget there’s always *clinical research*. Usually academic pay is $50-$100,000/yr less than what can be earned working (less) in a private/community-type setting. And, you have the added responsibilites of teaching/lectures, research, meetings, etc., therefore I’d say the time commitment is probably more with academics. Also, you may find yourself working a second job to supplement income. But, if you like to teach (or do research) you may just decide to stay in academic medicine.

    Also, you have to consider the area of specialty you’re interested in…as this makes a difference.

    So you see…it’s may be a tiny bit early for you to worry because there are so many variables. And in your fourth year of med school…or even during your internship, you may make a different decision. After you have a baby, you may decide to work part time…

    Never know.


    I’ve done research in an acadmeic setting for more than 10 years and I’ve also decided to go the MD/PhD route.

    While the combined degree is not a prerequiste for clinical/academic research, it certainly helps in getting grants, getting into competitive residencies, ect. I also like to idea of “writing my own ticket” meaning that people with combined degrees’s seem to have many more opportunities than folks with either degree alone.

    While I agree that it is early to be thinking about a speciality, I don’t know if I think this is necessarily true for women with families/those who desire the MD/PhD. I think looking at the possibiliteis early through volunteering/shadowing different physicians can save you time and money when it comes time to apply to either medical school or the MD/PhD program.
    As my username indicates, I’ve decided that on a career as a molecular pathologist and started my PhD courses last Fall (I have an MS in Chemsitry as well). Fortunately, many of the classes I will take to fulfill requiiments for the PhD are taken with medical students so I get the “2 for 1” deal which in the end will save time.

    Speaking of time, I decided long ago to throw away the clock/calender and focus on meeting my academic goals. I’ll be 45 when I finish school which doesn’t concern me in the least. I couldn’t be happier in this decision, thanks in large part to my fiance’, my family, and advisors that support my dream.

    Good luck! PM if you want more info!


    I think academic medicine is very hard for momMDs, dads too. My husband is an academic neurologist. There is constant pressure to get grants to fund yourself, and it’s hard to get them especially on the first try. You need an excellent mentor. Then when you’re working on research, there is high pressure if you’re an MD to earn money for your department doing clinical work, but that keeps you from your research. It’s a tricky balance. The moms I know who do it have husbands who do the primary parenting, and they are very high energy people who need very little sleep (like consistently 4h/night). If you are one of those people, though, GO FOR IT! It would be very helpful to have more women in academic medicine.


    In part I think it depends on how “academic” you want to be. I completely echo the responses thus far of the typical University-based research drived academic career. However, there is such a thing as “mommy track” academics if research is not so much of a priority for you…these are not the kind of situations where you’ll publishing in the New England Journal, but if you really just want to be in an academic environment, teaching, maybe involved in some clinical trials, there are a couple of options I can think of. One is to be staff at a sister hospital to a major university, e.g. Bridgeport Hospital is to Yale. The other which works well for some people is the military; I’m an Air Force resident right now and in some ways the military is ideal for doing mommy track academics. For one thing, most physicians don’t stay in for an entire career, so there are lots of opportunities for junior staff to do amazing things if they want to stay at one of our teaching hospitals. I know an ID staff who, first year as staff, procured a VERY large grant (and the Dept of Defense has all this money set aside for research —according to him they were basically calling him asking, “can you think of any way we can spend this money on research?”) and now as something like third year staff is assistant program director. Anyway, just a thought.


    I also forgot to mention that academic medicine is very doable here at the NIH as evidenced by the numerous Mommies that are physicians and Scientists. Granted they don’t get tenure at the same rate as men, but I’d rather be happly in my profession/family without tenure than to get in the “rat race” of tenure track.

    There’s also NO worry of competing for grants which is the best positive for being a government Physician/Scientist.

Viewing 6 posts - 1 through 6 (of 6 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.