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medicine and research

mike1423mike1423 Posts: 35Registered User Junior Member
edited May 2011 in Careers in Medicine
I'm currently an undergraduate at Cornell, and I'm majoring in Nutritional Sciences. I'm premed and want to become a surgeon in the future. I'm also really interested in research though, and wish to participate in research related to medicine like pathologies. Does anyone know the best way or "path" to become a doctor but still be able to do research? Or will I only really be doing research in undergrad/grad school?
Post edited by mike1423 on

Replies to: medicine and research

  • mmmcdowemmmcdowe Posts: 2,347Registered User Senior Member
    Academic medicine is the best path. It is more of a life choice honestly. You have to want to do academia versus private practice or some other career style. You could also consider getting a combined MD/PhD.
  • mike1423mike1423 Posts: 35Registered User Junior Member
    What do you mean academic medicine? Like I still want to become a surgeon, I would just like to be able to some meaningful research as well. Thanks for replying btw.
  • BigredmedBigredmed Posts: 3,675Registered User Senior Member
    Academic medicine means that you'd work at medical center tied to a medical school.

    Academic physicians usually fall into one of two categories - clinician educators and clinician scientists. Each has clinical responsibilities and administrative tasks, and both will likely have educational and research duties. However the relative amount of time spent on those tasks will vary based on their track.

    While on clinical duties, academic physicians will typically supervise residents and students on their clinical service. For a true clinician scientist, this may be the extent of their teaching duties. If your specialty is something particular, say minimally invasive surgery, it's possible the medical center would have a fellowship program and you'd also be involved in specifically teaching the fellows the advanced techniques of minimally invasive surgery and mentoring them in their scholarly projects.
    The clinician educator will also supervise fellows/residents/students while on clinical services, but may also have greater teaching responsibilities either to the pre-clinical (1st and 2nd year medical students) or clinical (3rd/4th years) students via lectures/simulations/case conferences.

    As far as research goes, again, both types of academic physicians will have some research output, but it's just a matter of how much time they spend on it. Certainly there are no limitations on the type of research done, be it clinical, bench or translational research, for either group.

    That being said however, the onus on clinician scientists will be to garner grant awards and support the cost of their research through outside funding.

    The average clinician educator will split their time as roughly 50% clinical duties, 30% educational and 20% research/administrative, while the typical clinician scientists will spend 50% of time on research, 30% clinical duties and 20% educational/administrative. These are just rough guidelines though and through contract negotiations can be altered depending on what the department and physician deem as most important. Certainly doctors who are things like Residency or Fellowship Program Directors, Department Chairpersons, or Medical Directors of various parts of the hospital will see their administrative time increase at the expense of their other duties.


    Compare this to the general surgeon in some place like Charlotte, North Carolina, which is probably the largest city in the country without a medical school. A surgeon there likely works at a hospital with no affiliations to a medical school, never has residents or students follow them and simply sees patients referred to them from other providers in clinic, schedules them for surgery, operates, and manages them post-operatively. Depending on the surgery group they work with they may take overnight call (from home) every 5th or 7th night, with one full weekend of call done on a rotating schedule. During their time on call, nurses will call them with any problems encountered on patients that have been operated on by any surgeon in the group, and any emergencies will be that doctor's responsibility. Research is certainly a possibility for them, but they are more likely to be tangentially involved with a larger study run by academic physicians, or to work on smaller projects that much more likely to be clinical in nature. It would be exceedingly rare for a community physician to partake in bench research.
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