In 2015, a nation-wide effort was launched to track the careers of over 10,000 MD-PhD program graduates. Data were obtained by surveys sent to alumni, inquiries sent to program directors, and searches in American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) databases. Here, we present an analysis of the data, focusing on the impact of sex, race, and ethnicity on career outcomes. The results show that diversity among trainees has increased since the earliest MD-PhD programs, although it still lags considerably behind the US population. Training duration, which includes time to graduation as well as time to first independent position, was similar for men and women and for minority and nonminority alumni, as were most choices of medical specialties. Regardless of minority status and sex, most survey responders reported that they are working in academia, research institutes, federal agencies, or industry. These similarities were, however, accompanied by several noteworthy differences: (a) Based on AAMC Faculty Roster data rather than survey responses, women were less likely than men to have had a full-time faculty appointment, (b) minorities who graduated after 1985 had a longer average time to degree than nonminorities, (c) fewer women and minorities have NIH grants, (d) fewer women reported success in moving from a mentored to an independent NIH award, and (e) women in the most recent graduation cohort reported spending less time on research than men. Collectively, these results suggest that additional efforts need to be made to recruit women and minorities into MD-PhD programs and, once recruited, to understand the drivers behind the differences that have emerged in their career paths.
Myles H. Akabas, Lawrence F. Brass