Quantcast

Amc faculty positions: what's the appeal?

This forum made possible through the generous support of SDN members, donors, and sponsors. Thank you.

PsychMajorUndergrad18

Full Member
5+ Year Member
Joined
Jan 27, 2015
Messages
302
Reaction score
60
Don't AMC faculty teach primarily medical doctors? I think that may be appealing to some psychology professors who want to be able to mentor medical students and conduct research in this type of setting.
 

Pragma

Neuropsychologist
10+ Year Member
Joined
Dec 29, 2011
Messages
3,309
Reaction score
714
It never appealed to me, but I think the access to colleagues, resources, etc as well as prestige is a big selling point. If you are really good then the ceiling is high salary wise, although in most cases it would be hard to do anything else. I'm not in a role like that but those are my observations. Also depends if you are mostly clinical or research- different metrics for advancement.
 

Boston2k

Full Member
10+ Year Member
Joined
Feb 5, 2008
Messages
86
Reaction score
25
I agree with pragma on these points. A few elaborations:

Pay is higher for researchers at AMCs - you are compared to physician-level pay. Whether this pay level is worth it given the possibility of additional stress of living off of soft money (especially in this funding climate) is at personal discretion.

Closer connection to other departments (neuroscience, basic biology, biostatistics, etc.) - it can be different when they are down the hall compared to across campus or even at another university

Patient flow for research is often better - referrals flow into a hospital so easier to do patient-based research, also easier to get referrals from other departments (e.g., general medicine/pediatrics).

Also, I have found for scientist-practitioners that there can be great value for this training in an AMC - often physician scientists and medical residents are not skilled at the research process or in the management of data, and with scientist-practitioner training you know both patient care and how to do research.

If you want to be a clinician, you get a guaranteed referral source, and sometimes some higher prestige (which you can use to increase your rates if you want to have a private practice on the side or do some other kind of outside consulting). The comes at a cost of probably lower income than you could make if you worked hard at a full time private practice.
 

Ollie123

Full Member
10+ Year Member
Joined
Feb 19, 2007
Messages
5,248
Reaction score
2,652
Conveniently, I recently generated a pros/cons list on exactly this as I think about my own career moving forward.

A lot basically boils down to risk vs. reward. My former department extended an offer to a fresh-out-of-postdoc individual for an assistant professorship at 110k (moderate COL area, so not like its NYC). That is more than many full professors make in traditional psychology department settings. If you succeed, the salary numbers blow out of the water what you will see in nearly any other setting. Folks I'm working with now have gotten offers in the mid 200's and we're in a low COL area. Its not unreasonable for folks who make it to the admin level to earn 300+. That is 2-3x what the psych dept chair at my R1 grad institution was making. That said, you also get all the benefits that go along with salaried positions...typically very good insurance, retirement packages (here we get an additional ~10% of our salary dumped into a 403b....not as a match, just as a "bonus"), potential for sabbaticals, plus lots of intangibles.

One of the few jobs where you really do get to see the full spectrum of science-practitioner. You can go 100% research, 100% clinical or anything in between. There are always opportunities to dabble with the other, so even clinicians can have a hand in (actual serious grown-up) science if they want, which isn't possible in most other settings. I can see patients 1x/week if I want...or a half-day a week or not at all. I actually think there is even more flexibility to shape your career than in a psychology department since there are such a range of paths.

Intellectual atmosphere can be hit or miss. Some departments just run horse-race tx studies for big pharma all day and you won't find much in the way of theory or intellect. My current dept is by far the most intellectually stimulating place I've worked and we're well-integrated between the medical and university side (I have cross-appointments at university centers and regularly attend talks/events). Resources are also big. Things like research-dedicated MRI suites, cluster computing networks, etc. are not always easily accessible in other settings.

Main downside is risk. If I don't get an R01 (even in today's funding climate), I won't ever make it past assistant professor. I could pull in 3-4 R01s and still not receive tenure here - though unlike a psych department that isn't necessarily an automatic dismissal. I'm pretty risk averse so am still hesitant about my decision to go down this path, but I'm rolling with it for now. Politics can also be pretty intense in these places, though its mostly at the administrative level.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user

erg923

Regional Clinical Officer, Centene Corporation
10+ Year Member
Joined
Apr 6, 2007
Messages
10,437
Reaction score
4,921
Anyone care to explain? I just don't get it.

For clinical work or for research? I think for research, the appeal pretty obvious. I also think its an intllectual stimulating enviornment.

I recently interviewed at my local AMC for a clinical faculty position and really liked the intellectual atmosphere and the security and academia and its benefits. The pay, for the primary clinical position (even there there were teaching and others service expectations), just seemed so limited to billable hours and the codcs I can use that i wasnt able to make any more than I would at my VA. The RVUs targets were also higher there, and given that I dont have much desire to increase my current clinical contact, it was ultimately not all that appealing. I also found it likely very difficult to "move up the ranks" there.
 

Therapist4Chnge

Neuropsych Ninja
Moderator Emeritus
15+ Year Member
Joined
Oct 7, 2006
Messages
21,977
Reaction score
3,344
1. Intellectual pursuits. I have regular clinical and research access to neurology, neurosurg, neuro-onc, basic sciences, etc. There are also seminars, grand rounds, etc.

2. Mentoring a wider range of ppl: fellows, residents, psych interns, psych practice students, med students, etc.

3. Greater access to niche referrals. In PP I can carve out a niche, but it is easier at an AMC.

4. Pay...in some circumstances. I can make more salary in PP, but at some (not all) AMCs you can also get nice retirement matches, a pension, great medical coverage, fringe benefits, etc. Jumping to the Administration side can yield $200k+.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user

PBCocce

Full Member
2+ Year Member
Joined
Aug 20, 2015
Messages
76
Reaction score
24
Folks I'm working with now have gotten offers in the mid 200's and we're in a low COL area. Its not unreasonable for folks who make it to the admin level to earn 300+. That is 2-3x what the psych dept chair at my R1 grad institution was making. That said, you also get all the benefits that go along with salaried positions...typically very good insurance, retirement packages (here we get an additional ~10% of our salary dumped into a 403b....not as a match, just as a "bonus"), potential for sabbaticals, plus lots of intangibles.

That is so much higher than numbers I have heard. Numbers I have heard being discussed are more like mid 100's for AMCs I'm familiar with.

What type of psychologist's are getting paid that kind of $?
 

Pragma

Neuropsychologist
10+ Year Member
Joined
Dec 29, 2011
Messages
3,309
Reaction score
714
I've seen clinical faculty start out at 80-90k post-fellowship at AMCs. I'd imagine you can get a little higher starting salary as research faculty, and that there is going to be some variability around that. I'm sure there are outliers.
 

WisNeuro

Board Certified Neuropsychologist
10+ Year Member
  • Joined
    Feb 15, 2009
    Messages
    14,302
    Reaction score
    16,510
    With a sample size of a handful, a few colleagues I know are pulling mid to high 100's in AMC. Although, their workweek is significantly longer than mine. They seem to hit the 50-60 range pretty consistently to my 40.
     

    Ollie123

    Full Member
    10+ Year Member
    Joined
    Feb 19, 2007
    Messages
    5,248
    Reaction score
    2,652
    That is so much higher than numbers I have heard. Numbers I have heard being discussed are more like mid 100's for AMCs I'm familiar with.

    What type of psychologist's are getting paid that kind of $?

    Mid 100's is probably more normative for associate-full professors in these type of settings. I was referring to folks who make it into administrative roles (division director, department chair, vice-chair of X or Y, etc.). The folks in the 200-300 range are all folks who were 100% research (or near enough anyways), were very, very successful (PI on multiple R01s at any given time) and are now in administrative positions. I can't say I know a lot about it, but the clinical path seems like more of a dead end at these places. You'll get a competitive salary relative to salaried positions in most other settings, but the opportunities for growth/tenure/etc. seem much less.

    As others have noted - its definitely not a 9-5 kind of gig. That said, I've had some great role models for folks who manage to do this and still keep a reasonable work-life balance - all have families, etc.
     
    Last edited:

    Therapist4Chnge

    Neuropsych Ninja
    Moderator Emeritus
    15+ Year Member
    Joined
    Oct 7, 2006
    Messages
    21,977
    Reaction score
    3,344
    After a couple years. My neuro friends seem to have a much easier time negotiating more money than my gen psych friends, though.

    100% agree with the above. It is much easier to negotiate when you can bill more on a daily basis. I utilize psychometricians, so while they are a cost, I get credit for their billing and they allow me to see many more patients in a given year.
     

    Pragma

    Neuropsychologist
    10+ Year Member
    Joined
    Dec 29, 2011
    Messages
    3,309
    Reaction score
    714
    Yeah I guess the 80-90 numbers I've heard come from my non-neuro friends. Low 100's seems reasonable as a starting point for neuro.

    I find the non-compete stuff to be interesting though. The AMCs I'm familiar with don't allow outside PP work. In my own situation I work at an R2 and do hospital work on a part time basis. The opportunity to do both makes my income ceiling go much higher. I suppose some folks might find other things to do outside of an AMC position (consulting, adjuncting?) but as others have said, it isn't usually a 40 hour per week job to begin with.
     

    AcronymAllergy

    Neuropsychologist
    Volunteer Staff
    10+ Year Member
  • Joined
    Jan 7, 2010
    Messages
    8,405
    Reaction score
    3,594
    Yeah I guess the 80-90 numbers I've heard come from my non-neuro friends. Low 100's seems reasonable as a starting point for neuro.

    I find the non-compete stuff to be interesting though. The AMCs I'm familiar with don't allow outside PP work. In my own situation I work at an R2 and do hospital work on a part time basis. The opportunity to do both makes my income ceiling go much higher. I suppose some folks might find other things to do outside of an AMC position (consulting, adjuncting?) but as others have said, it isn't usually a 40 hour per week job to begin with.

    I've at least looked at AMC positions while at the VA, but the bolded is one of the major reservations I have. Given my paltry locality adjustment, I'd probably get paid more at an AMC...but with a 40-hour VA work week and no non-compete, I could theoretically supplement my current income with 10-20 hours/week at a private practice or some type of consulting and possibly meet or exceed the AMC numbers.

    Doesn't address the increased access to research resources at an AMC, though, nor the (theoretically) greater flexibility for a clinical-research mix. And VA vs. AMC administrative positions...yeah, I'd very likely opt for the latter.
     

    WisNeuro

    Board Certified Neuropsychologist
    10+ Year Member
  • Joined
    Feb 15, 2009
    Messages
    14,302
    Reaction score
    16,510
    AA, was that a non-compete for any type of work for the AMC's you looked at? Even IME's or forensic evals?

    Oh, and as far as taking an admin position in the VA vs an AMC, yeah, I have a hard time thinking of how much you'd have to pay me to take an admin position in a VA. I can't think of a more maddening job position.
     

    AcronymAllergy

    Neuropsychologist
    Volunteer Staff
    10+ Year Member
  • Joined
    Jan 7, 2010
    Messages
    8,405
    Reaction score
    3,594
    AA, was that a non-compete for any type of work for the AMC's you looked at? Even IME's or forensic evals?

    Oh, and as far as taking an admin position in the VA vs an AMC, yeah, I have a hard time thinking of how much you'd have to pay me to take an admin position in a VA. I can't think of a more maddening job position.

    I didn't get to the point of actually reviewing specific contracts; mostly just assumptions (I know, I know) made based on experiences relayed here and by friends in the field.

    I think it mostly applied to private practice clinical work. Not sure if it would somehow also apply to forensic evals and/or IMEs, although I do know of AMC clinicians who somehow funnel those types of evals (for additional compensation) through their AMC clinic.
     

    Therapist4Chnge

    Neuropsych Ninja
    Moderator Emeritus
    15+ Year Member
    Joined
    Oct 7, 2006
    Messages
    21,977
    Reaction score
    3,344
    I think it really depends on the contract. Our current contract is pretty restrictive and any clinically-related work is expected to go through our hospital-based practice. I'm considering some outside consulting work, but it needs to be outside of my clinical work to avoid any hassle.
     

    MamaPhD

    Psychologist, Academic Medical Center
    10+ Year Member
    Joined
    Aug 2, 2010
    Messages
    2,355
    Reaction score
    2,634
    Anyone care to explain? I just don't get it.

    In my experience, the advantages are:

    (1) Excellent pay, benefits, and bonuses
    (2) Stimulating clinical work environment (ie, interesting patients, cases I'd never see in private practice)
    (3) Substantial admin/support resources (depending on the institution)
    (4) Numerous opportunities to collaborate and/or teach across disciplines
    (5) In my experience, more emphasis on real-world impact of scholarly work than in university settings

    AMC faculty jobs are definitely not for everyone, though. Some of the downsides are:

    (1) Longer hours (generally speaking)
    (2) Harder to get promoted/tenured in many institutions/departments
    (3) Second-class citizen status relative to physicians (depending on the institution)
    (4) External funding expectations are increasingly difficult to meet
     

    MamaPhD

    Psychologist, Academic Medical Center
    10+ Year Member
    Joined
    Aug 2, 2010
    Messages
    2,355
    Reaction score
    2,634
    I think it really depends on the contract. Our current contract is pretty restrictive and any clinically-related work is expected to go through our hospital-based practice. I'm considering some outside consulting work, but it needs to be outside of my clinical work to avoid any hassle.

    I'm in a similar arrangement with my contract. Not that I have time to maintain an outside practice anyway. I do a little non-clinical consulting and even that is tough to schedule around my "day job."
     
    Top