Purpose: In 2000, faced with a national concern over the decreasing number of physician-scientists, Vanderbilt School of Medicine established the institutionally funded Vanderbilt Physician-Scientist Development (VPSD) program to provide centralized oversight and financial support for physician-scientist career development. In 2002, Vanderbilt developed the National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded Vanderbilt Clinical Research Scholars (VCRS) program using a similar model of centralized oversight. The authors evaluate the impact of the VPSD and VCRS programs on early career outcomes of physician-scientists.
Method: Physician-scientists who entered the VPSD or VCRS programs from 2000 through 2006 were compared with Vanderbilt physician-scientists who received NIH career development funding during the same period without participating in the VPSD or VCRS programs.
Results: Seventy-five percent of VPSD and 60% of VCRS participants achieved individual career award funding at a younger age than the comparison cohort. This shift to career development award funding at a younger age among VPSD and VCRS scholars was accompanied by a 2.6-fold increase in the number of new K awards funded and a rate of growth in K-award dollars at Vanderbilt that outpaced the national rate of growth in K-award funding.
Conclusions: Analysis of the early outcomes of the VPSD and VCRS programs suggests that centralized oversight can catalyze growth in the number of funded physician-scientists at an institution. Investment in this model of career development for physician-scientists may have had an additive effect on the recruitment and retention of talented trainees and junior faculty.