Residents’ perspectives on careers in academic medicine: Obstacles and opportunities

Steven Lin, Cathina Nguyen, Emily Walters, Paul Gordon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Worsening faculty shortages in medical schools and residency programs are threatening the US medical education infrastructure. Little is known about the factors that influence the decision of family medicine residents to choose or not choose academic careers. Our study objective was to answer the following question among family medicine residents: “What is your greatest concern or fear about pursuing a career in academic family medicine?” METHODS: Participants were family medicine residents who attended the Faculty for Tomorrow Workshop at the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine Annual Spring Conference in 2016 and 2017. Free responses to the aforementioned prompt were analyzed using a constant comparative method and grounded theory approach. RESULTS: A total of 156 participants registered for the workshops and 95 (61%) answered the free response question. Eight distinct themes emerged from the analysis. The most frequently recurring theme was “lack of readiness or mentorship,” which accounted for nearly one-third (31%) of the codes. Other themes included work-life balance and burnout (17%), job availability and logistics (15%), lack of autonomy or flexibility (11%), competing pressures/ roles (10%), lower financial rewards (4%), politics and bureaucracy (4%), and research (3%). CONCLUSIONS: To our knowledge, this is the first study to identify barriers and disincentives to pursuing a career in academic medicine from the perspective of family medicine residents. There may be at least eight major obstacles, for which we summarize and consider potential interventions. More research is needed to understand why residents choose, or don’t choose, academic careers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)204-211
Number of pages8
JournalFamily medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Family Practice


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