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The Future of the Orthopaedic Clinician-ScientistPart I: The Potential Role of MD-PhD Students Considering Orthopaedic Surgery
Jaimo Ahn, MD, PhD1; Li-Xing Man, MD, MSc2; Jonathan Wanderer, MS1; Joseph Bernstein, MD, MS3; Joseph P. Iannotti, MD, PhD4
1 Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, 424 Stemmler Hall, 36th and Hamilton Walk, Philadelphia, PA 19104. E-mail address for J. Ahn: jaimo_ahn@stanfordalumni.org
2 Department of Otolaryngology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, The Eye and Ear Institute, 200 Lothrop Street, Suite 500, Pittsburgh, PA 15213
3 Division of Orthopaedic Surgery, Veterans Administration Medical Center, 424 Stemmler Hall, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104
4 Department of Orthopaedic Surgery A-41, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, 9500 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44194
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Disclosure: The authors did not receive any outside funding or grants in support of their research for or preparation of this work. Neither they nor a member of their immediate families received payments or other benefits or a commitment or agreement to provide such benefits from a commercial entity. No commercial entity paid or directed, or agreed to pay or direct, any benefits to any research fund, foundation, division, center, clinical practice, or other charitable or nonprofit organization with which the authors, or a member of their immediate families, are affiliated or associated.

The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc.
J Bone Joint Surg Am, 2008 Aug 01;90(8):1794-1799. doi: 10.2106/JBJS.G.00460
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Background: There is currently a severe shortage of clinician-scientists, who fill a vital role in musculoskeletal care. One way to address this shortage is to recruit more MD-PhD students into orthopaedics. We analyzed data from a national survey of MD-PhD students to assess this potential.

Methods: A total of 868 students from thirteen MD-PhD training programs were requested to fill out a multiple-choice online survey concerning their education and future goals.

Results: We achieved a response rate of 56.7% (492 of 868). Seven (1.4%) of the 492 respondents listed orthopaedics as their primary clinical interest, and thirty (6.1%) listed it as one of their three strongest clinical interests. Among the thirty respondents, seven (23%) were senior students, five (17%) were women, and none were minorities. In comparison, 33% of the 462 respondents in the nonorthopaedic cohort were women and 12.1% were a member of a minority group (p < 0.05). Among twenty-three students who had a secondary orthopaedic interest, only one-third had a primary surgical interest. Both the thirty with a strong clinical interest in orthopaedics and the others without a strong interest in orthopaedics showed similar intent on becoming physician-scientists (a score of 2.73 and 3.30, respectively) and an interest in an academic career (90.0% and 90.3%, respectively) (p > 0.05 for both). The orthopaedic group showed significantly greater interest in clinical care as a primary activity than did the nonorthopaedic group (63.3% compared with 30.7%; p < 0.0005). Eighty-seven percent of those in the orthopaedic group reported research as their most likely primary or secondary activity.

Conclusions: This study suggests that there is a relatively strong interest in orthopaedic surgery (patient care and research) among MD-PhD students nationally, creating the potential to recruit approximately 100 new orthopaedic clinician-scientists every eight years (the average MD-PhD training period). Extrapolation indicates that there is the ability to double the number of orthopaedic clinician-scientists in the United States over the next fifty years. Therefore, efforts should be made to attract these students (especially women and those in underrepresented minority groups) to orthopaedic surgery. The study further suggests recruiting broadly—we should not be biased toward students late in training and just those with surgical interests.

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    These activities have been planned and implemented in accordance with the Essential Areas and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint sponsorship of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.
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