specialflava

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Hey everyone, I'm actually still a pre-med right now, but I was hoping that some of you closer to the field could give me some input. I know it's a bit early for me to be seriously contemplating a specialty, but I have a tendency to try planning things far in advance. At any rate, I would definitely like to go into academics, combining research with medicine, but the common "80/20" split is what kind of scares me (I don't want to be scientist who does a gig as a part-time physician on the side). I read somewhere about academic surgeons having 60% of their time devoted to patient care, with the other 40% spread between research/teaching. Is this possible? Moreover, if I have an interest in cancer research, would it be feasible to be a surgical oncologist or neurosurgeon specializing in neuro-oncology running a lab that conducts basic cancer research (as opposed to clinical research)? I suppose it may just be wistful thinking, but I'm imagining a job where I can do a few surgeries a week, spend some time in clinic/doing consults, while running a major lab investigating targeted cancer therapeutics or something of the like. So is this sort of balance possible? Or is committing to academics pretty much committing yourself fully to your research?
 

BozoSparky

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I think your scenario is possible. However, on my interviews, I had the same question, and many physicians said it was impossible. One told me it was extremely difficult, while another said, "You can come get your kicks in the clinic on Thursday afternoons." I wasn't happy with that! Now that I am a medical student, I see quite few good examples of people who split their time evenly. It's hard, but can be done.

Like you, I'd love to hear from others...
 

RxnMan

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BozoSparky said:
I think your scenario is possible. However, on my interviews, I had the same question, and many physicians said it was impossible. One told me it was extremely difficult, while another said, "You can come get your kicks in the clinic on Thursday afternoons." I wasn't happy with that! Now that I am a medical student, I see quite few good examples of people who split their time evenly. It's hard, but can be done.

Like you, I'd love to hear from others...
I worked for a guy who split his time into clinic, ressearch/teaching, and administration (he was a hospital admin guy). He was a pulmonologist, and he would staff the ICU (be on clinical rotation) for a 1.5-2.0 months at a time, then go back to research for a few months, maybe teach a med school class block, and lather, rinse, repeat.

These sort of divisions are easier when you staff a department as opposed to participating in a practice. That is, the difference between short-term emergent care and shift-work, or long-term perioperative care.
 
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Pemberley

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BozoSparky said:
Like you, I'd love to hear from others...
Me too! The ID specialists I've been shadowing say that absolutely ANY mix of the three (clinical, teaching, research) is possible... but their very most clinically-oriented guy spends 25% of his time on the clinical side of the job. Most spend ~8%.

It's occurred to me that clinical research might be more flexible than laboratory research. It kind of makes sense that you can't run a lab without actually spending quite a lot of time there. Am I out to lunch? I don't really know what I'm talking about here.
 

needinformation

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Out here in the West, at a major academic institution, most of the academic folks have their research labs that run year round, and they are the attending on the service a few times a year, and they attend a clinic once a week or so. Remember, to be an academic person, your salary is mostly made up by your research grant, as the university only hands out a small stipend. So, it serves one better to be generating results in the lab.

I have heard that at the above institution, they offered a friend of mine $60,000 a year, and that the rest of his income would come from research grants. Needless to say, my friend chose a job that is bringing in close to $300,000. He works about 50 hours a week.

To be in academics is really saying you are willing to give your life away. Sure, you can accomplish a great deal and change the world, but which child says to their dying parent, "oh Mum, I am so glad you solved xyz, and that's okay that I never saw you..." Clearly, I have my mind made up about what is more important to me. The same rule doesn't apply to everyone, (THANKFULLY! Or where am I going to come up with treatment plans for my patients?!) But it is a huge undertaking...
 

SoCuteMD

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Pemberley said:
Me too! The ID specialists I've been shadowing say that absolutely ANY mix of the three (clinical, teaching, research) is possible... but their very most clinically-oriented guy spends 25% of his time on the clinical side of the job. Most spend ~8%.

It's occurred to me that clinical research might be more flexible than laboratory research. It kind of makes sense that you can't run a lab without actually spending quite a lot of time there. Am I out to lunch? I don't really know what I'm talking about here.
I will second that in my experience (secondhand), ID is one field in which combining the two is VERY possible. I saw a lot of GI docs do the same as well.

Most schools will make you do lots of clinic while you get your research projects up, running, and FUNDED, but after that it's really dependent upon your research funding.
 

Brainsucker

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Dr. Jeffrey Bruce, a neurosurgeon at Columbia, is a PI for the Bartoli brain tumor lab that does a lot of basic science (rat models, cultured human cells and maybe some other stuff). He operates quite a bit (tumors and skull base mostly, I think) and works his ass off. He's also the residency director for neurosurgery. So, there's clinic/science/teaching for you. One of the nice things for the PIs about becoming that successful is that you don't actually have to run your own experiments.
 

UCSFnerd

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I also knew a physician who ran a major lab and did clinicals few times a week. He's divorced now and failed to get custody of his kids.
 

oldbearprofessor

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needinformation said:
To be in academics is really saying you are willing to give your life away. Sure, you can accomplish a great deal and change the world, but which child says to their dying parent, "oh Mum, I am so glad you solved xyz, and that's okay that I never saw you..."
I am an academic physician as are most of my colleagues. My time split is about 70% research, 20% clinical, and 10% teaching. Some academic physicians do more research, some do more clinical time. I don't believe that the vast majority of my academic colleagues are giving their life away. I would encourage you to talk to my children or the children of my colleagues before you imply that our children will be angry at us (or worse) on our deathbed for not paying them enough attention in pursuit of academic medicine.


Academic physicians who ignore their SO and their children are bad partners and bad parents. It is not necessary to do this to be a good academic physician.

Now time to go back to snooping on my kids myspace pages and IMing them to see what's new in their lives. :laugh:

Regards

OBP
 
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