Is The Physician Scientist Career For Me?
You have to carefully consider whether you have the interest and motivation to fashion a physician scientist career which should fit your own intellectual, biomedical, social, cultural and research goals.
Training to be a physician scientist is long and at times difficult and thus requires careful planning. Mastering two careers in order to fashion one hybrid career as a physician scientist is particularly challenging. The successful physician scientist is generally an individual who is intelligent, very highly motivated, hard working, efficient, and an excellent problem solver, who likes to be challenged by difficult problems. Often numerous failures will precede the experiments that ultimately provide data that satisfies your curiosity and leads to a high impact well cited journal article. Thus instant gratification is not on the menu but a high tolerance for frustration and failure are. Once you accept this, the rewards are numerous. You are at the forefront of your field. You create the literature and are a consultant with unique knowledge. You are invited to share your expertise and knowledge with colleagues at scientific meetings and at universities and hospitals.
You are in the dynamic world of academic medicine where inquiring minds are constantly searching for scientific truths. Your work has an impact on clinical care, either directly or indirectly. You yourself have an interesting and comfortable lifestyle.
To make informed decisions about career choices, it is important to have exposure to active physician scientists. A good way to do this is to spend time in the laboratory of a physician scientist and participate actively in a project course, a summer student program or a work placement. Immerse yourself in the program so you get full value. If you work in a large laboratory, you may get to spend little time with the busy principle investigator physician scientist. More junior physician scientists with smaller laboratories may be able to offer a better first look at a physician scientist career. Discussing career choices with knowledgeable career counselors, current trainees, and junior and senior faculty is very helpful. Remember that in the final analysis it is your choice to make. Also no choice is irrevocable so if you start and you see you are not having fun, reassess your choice. But remember to give yourself a chance. Embarking on a new adventure can be stressful and may initially not live up to expectations. If you feel things are getting better after a poor start, you probably did make the correct decision in the first place.
Do not be concerned about expressing frustration and doubts. We all have them. Try to solve issues as they arise during your exploratory adventures into the world of the physician scientist. Don't only focus on the failures but identify the successes you have as you prepare to make your decision to follow the rewarding path of the physician scientist.