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An Overlooked Source of Physician-Scientists
  1. Livia Puljak
  1. From the Department of Internal Medicine, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, Dallas, TX; postdoctoral fellow and inaugural president of the Postdoctoral Association.
  1. Address correspondence to: Dr. Livia Puljak, Department of Anatomy, Histology and Embryology, University of Split Medical School, Soltanska 2, 21 000 Split, Croatia; e-mail: livia{at}


A shortage of physician-scientists in the United States is an ongoing problem. Various recommendations have been made to address this issue; however, none of them have ameliorated the situation. Foreign medical school graduates with postdoctoral training in the United States are an overlooked and untapped resource for combating the dearth of physician-scientists. Evaluation of the scientific staff at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center revealed that 11% of all postdoctoral fellows were international medical graduates. Interestingly, a survey taken by these individuals revealed a lack of institutional and/or mentor support for career development and preparation for becoming physician-scientists. Foreign postdoctoral fellows with medical degrees are not even eligible for physician-scientist grants and awards since they are not US citizens. Although physicians educated in the United States usually matriculate from medical school with high educational debt that prevents most of them from entering into scientific careers, doctors trained outside the United States generally have minimal, if any, debt. Furthermore, many of them have a keen interest in remaining in the United States once they complete their postdoctoral training. Thus, foreign-trained medical professionals who have pursued scientific training in the United States can be one of the solutions for the current dearth of physician-scientists.

Key words
  • physician-scientists
  • training
  • postdoctoral fellows
  • international medical school graduates
  • visa
  • grant
  • educational debt

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