Fostering a diverse regional community of physician-scientist trainees

J Natl Med Assoc. 2022 Jun;114(3):251-257. doi: 10.1016/j.jnma.2022.01.010. Epub 2022 Feb 27.


Among the many academic challenges faced by dual-degree MD-PhD students is access to professional support networks designed to overcome the unique academic and personal barriers to physician-scientist training. In the current study, we hypothesized that regional access to a student MD-PhD conference, termed the Southeastern Medical Scientist Symposium (SEMSS), would enhance medical and/or graduate training by fostering such relationships between physician-scientist trainees, doing so by discussing both the challenges of physician-scientist training and effective strategies to overcome them. In the current study, we used a mixed-methods approach to evaluate the overall usefulness of SEMSS over a ten-year period (2010-2020) to identify key areas of particular benefit to trainees. The authors used conference registration data to compile self-reported demographic and regional attendance, followed by a post-conference survey to gauge attendee satisfaction. Over the reporting period, SEMSS was attended by equivalent proportions of MD-PhD and undergraduate students, among which were a high-percentage of students from underrepresented minority (URM) groups relative to the national MD-PhD applicant pool; nearly one-third of URM students attendees later matriculated into MD-PhD programs, far exceeding the national MD-PhD matriculation rate. Among the benefits reported by students were "opportunities to network with peers" and opportunities to learn about the physician-scientist career track. Therefore, we therefore propose regional MD-PhD conferences as an effective model to promote diversity within the physician-scientist training pipeline.

Keywords: Career development; Physician scientist; Underrepresented in medicine.

MeSH terms

  • Biomedical Research*
  • Career Choice
  • Education, Medical, Graduate / methods
  • Humans
  • Minority Groups
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Physicians*