Objective: To identify early personal and scholastic factors that predict academic career choice and long-term career achievement among academic physicians.
Design: A longitudinal cohort study.
Participants: Nine hundred forty-four male physicians who graduated from The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, from 1948 through 1964.
Outcome measures: Career achievement outcomes included attained faculty rank in 1990 and the number of citations (20 to 24 years after graduation) to published work.
Results: Of the 944 physicians, 424 (45%) had chosen academic careers. Scholastic performance and research experience in medical school were independently associated with having chosen an academic career (P less than .001). Among academicians, higher attained rank in 1990 was independently associated with the following: (1) membership in Alpha Omega Alpha (relative risk [RR] = 4.94, P = .0001); (2) rank in the top third of the graduating class (RR = 2.68, P = .01); and (3) research experience in medical school (RR = 3.11, P = .0001). These three factors were also independently associated with more citations to participants' published work (P less than .05).
Conclusion: These data suggest that scholastic performance and research experience during medical school predict career achievement in academic medicine over 20 years in the future.