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Academic Medicine: How difficult is it to enter?


Senior Member
7+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Jan 13, 2004
This is directed toward anyone. My fiancee is an allopathic(MD) allergy fellow. She wants to get into academic medicine. How challenging is it to enter academia? She didn't attend a prestigious medical school. However, she did attain a competitive fellowship like allergy/immunology. She seems to be under the impression that it is rather easy to get involved with academic medicine since most specialts opt for private practice due to higher salaries.

I was quite suprised by this notion because in other fields, academia is harder to attain due to the prestige, work hours and competitive (but not great) salary. Becoming a law school professor is much more difficult than becoming an associate at a prestigious firm for example.

Also, if she were to attain an academic position, where would it be? I wouldn't be suprised if she could land a position in a university in small to mid-level city that needed one. However, I can't see how it would be easy getting a position in a program in a large metropolitan city that is somewhat popular like Miami, Chicago, San Francisco or Los Angelas.

What is your take?


Senior Member
15+ Year Member
Jun 7, 2000
  1. Attending Physician
My first thoughts are: did she do her IM residency and/or fellowship at an academic medical center, and does she have research experience and possibly any publications from research or clinical work? I imagine these things are very important in attaining a faculty position in academia.


7+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Dec 3, 2002
Couldn't really answer that question... but has she thought of approaching her attendings and/or fellowship director with these questions? Seems like they'd know more than the majority of interns, residents and medical students who frequent this forum...
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Membership Revoked
15+ Year Member
Feb 1, 2004
My impression that it is fairly easy getting academic positions at hospitals as long as you are qualified (ie have done residency and fellowship at academic centers). While the pay differential has been decreasing, it's still pretty significant. And the environment (politics) drives a lot of good people from academics too. Allergy is kind of an exception though, because many academic centers do not have allergists or allergy departments simply because allergists are mainly out-patient physicians, and there is overlap between the pulmonary and ENT department out-patient work with allergy. Ultimately, I think that because there are so few allergist out there because so few are being trained, that your fiance will not have any trouble getting a job at an academic center. She must either have some research experience or be very smart/sociable to have gotten into an allergy fellowship to begin with, so these same things will more then qualify her to do academic medicine. You guys may just have to look for academic medical centers with allergy departments (which should exist at those major cities that you listed), the faculty at her fellowship should know of which ones may be looking to hire some new faculty. Congratulate your fiance on getting an allergy fellowship for us, they are challenging to get!


Senior Member
10+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Nov 28, 2003
  1. Attending Physician
Academic positions are rather easy to come by especially in fields like radiology and surgical subspecialties. I can't speak specifically for Allergy, but in general academic medicine is not like other fields of academia. Hospitals are under enormous financial pressures. Academic doctors are expected to do clinical work. The workload for many specialties has been increasing.

Most of the academic docs I know that leave to go to private practice is mostly because the increasing pressure to do clinical work without time set aside to do what you thought academics was all about: research and teach. The added fact that you are being paid half of what private practice docs often makes it an easy choice to jump ship. Also many find that academics is incredibly political. While private practice is as well, generally you will be working with a smaller group of people or even by yourself if you have your own practice.
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