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Association of American Medical Colleges Tomorrow's Doctors, Tomorrow's Cures®

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Analysis in Brief

Analysis in Brief presents recent findings from the AAMC's data collection and research activities in a concise, easy-to-read report. Published several times a year, it addresses a wide range of topics and trends that affect medical schools and teaching hospitals.

How Long Does it Take to Proceed from an MD Degree to a Medical School Faculty Appointment?

Faculty in academic medicine serve a critical role in the nation’s health systems and many medical schools consider training future faculty as part of their mission. To evaluate performance relative to this mission, this Analysis in Brief (AIB) examines how the range of years from the time a person obtains a U.S. medical school degree until the time that person begins a first appointment as a faculty member. It examines how that range varies relative to types of career aspirations that medical school graduates declare upon graduation, as well as how this time to a faculty post changes across cohorts. Results show that the majority of U.S. medical school graduates who do eventually go on to become full-time faculty do so between their fifth and tenth year after completing their MD degree.  That said, results also suggest that those who did not declare a preference for a full-time faculty career in their graduating year of medical school were very unlikely to ever become full-time faculty. Those who did declare a preference for a full-time faculty position also were relatively unlikely to have ever achieved that goal, though the proportion was higher: by 15 years after receiving an MD degree, 36 percent of those who declared a preference for a full-time faculty position had become full-time faculty at a medical school. Finally, among those graduates with full-time faculty career aspirations, the pattern of transitioning into full-time faculty positions varied across cohorts. In sum, these data  show that most MD-degree recipients, including those with professed intentions of becoming faculty, do not become full-time faculty members. These results may have implications for mentoring and providing support for students interested in academic careers as well as for modeling factors that are associated with becoming a faculty member.

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