Future Directions of Training Physician-Scientists Reimagining and Remeasuring the Workforce


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.

Academic Medicine
Wyatt P. Bensken, PhD
Research Investigator & Adjunct Assistant Professor of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences

My research interests include health disparities, health inequities, social determinants of health, and complex chronic conditions.