Physician Scientist Training in the United States: A Survey of the Current Literature

R. O. Kosik, D. T. Tran, Angela Pei Chen Fan*, G. A. Mandell, Der-Cherng Tarng, H. S. Hsu, Y. S. Chen, T. P. Su, S. J. Wang, A. W. Chiu, C. H. Lee, M. C. Hou, F. Y. Lee, W. S. Chen, Q. Chen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


The declining number of physician scientists is an alarming issue. A systematic review of all existing programs described in the literature was performed, so as to highlight which programs may serve as the best models for the training of successful physician scientists. Multiple databases were searched, and 1,294 articles related to physician scientist training were identified. Preference was given to studies that looked at number of confirmed publications and/or research grants as primary outcomes. Thirteen programs were identified in nine studies. Eighty-three percent of Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) graduates, 77% of Clinician Investigator Training Program (CI) graduates, and only 16% of Medical Fellows Program graduates entered a career in academics. Seventy-eight percent of MSTP graduates succeeded in obtaining National Institute of Health (NIH) grants, while only 15% of Mayo Clinic National Research Service Award-T32 graduates obtained NIH grants. MSTP physician scientists who graduated in 1990 had 13.5 ± 12.5 publications, while MSTP physician scientists who graduated in 1975 had 51.2 ± 38.3 publications. Additionally, graduates from the Mayo Clinic’s MD-PhD Program, the CI Program, and the NSRA Program had 18.2 ± 20.1, 26.5 ± 24.5, and 17.9 ± 26.3 publications, respectively. MSTP is a successful model for the training of physician scientists in the United States, but training at the postgraduate level also shows promising outcomes. An increase in the number of positions available for training at the postgraduate level should be considered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-20
Number of pages18
JournalEvaluation and the Health Professions
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2016


  • Clinician Investigator Training Program (CI)
  • MD-PhD
  • Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP)
  • physician scientist


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