a physician deciding between clinical and academic practice
a physician deciding between clinical and academic practice

What to consider about clinical vs. academic medicine

Read PracticeLink articles by Drew Terry
Drew Terry

Table of Contents

There are a lot of factors to consider when deciding the next step in your career.

Compensation often stands out. Others might be the organization’s culture, how much opportunity there is to grow your career, and whether it’s a place you think you can happily live and practice, which includes several aspects of its own.

As you consider those details, there’s another one that might help you refocus your search: Are you set on a clinical practice, or is academic medicine potentially a good fit for you?

Both clinical and academic medicine involve physicians seeing, diagnosing and treating patients. However, physicians practicing academic medicine are also in a position to conduct research and train new and future doctors.

Because academic medicine heavily involves training other physicians, patient treatment has more of a team appearance. That team may include the supervising physician and a mix of:

  • Fellows who are getting more focused training following residency
  • Residents undergoing training after completing medical school
  • Medical school students studying to become physicians

Are you considering a career in clinical vs. academic medicine? Here are five aspects of academic medicine that may help you compare the two.

1. You may have more variety in your role.

With the opportunity to balance responsibilities in seeing patients, conducting research and training other providers, academic medicine may be a good fit for those who prefer an assortment of tasks.

2. You might enjoy a more flexible schedule.

Being in an institution like a teaching hospital may mean assistance with some of the workload, whether it involves seeing patients or handling duties that don’t involve patient care.

3. There may be assistance with call duties.

Practicing medicine can require a lot of hours at work no matter what the setting is. In academic medicine, though, your call schedule may benefit from having residents and fellows who can handle the more routine needs.

4. You might expect less pay.

Physicians in academic medicine may have a higher base salary, but private practice may offer an ability to earn more income based on bonus structures. Still, there can be other financial advantages to practicing in an academic setting.

5. It’s a different way to make a difference in medicine.

In addition to seeing patients, you’ll have the opportunity to conduct research that may lead to advances and breakthroughs in medicine and train future generations of physicians, helping your impact in health care reach far beyond the patients you treat directly.

Read PracticeLink articles by Drew Terry

Drew Terry

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