"Rheumatology fellows' perception on training and careers in academia: the American College of Rheumatology Fellow Research and Academic Training Survey

FitzGerald, J., et al. (2009). "Rheumatology fellows' perception on training and careers in academia: the American College of Rheumatology Fellow Research and Academic Training Survey." Arthritis & Rheumatism-Arthritis Care & Research 61(2): 266-273.

Objective. To examine the perceptions of rheumatology fellows regarding their research training, mentoring, and interest in a career in academia. Methods. We solicited by e-mail 386 fellows in the American College of Rheumatology 2005-2006 fellow database to take an anonymous Internet-based survey addressing the topics of research training, mentoring, and interest in an academic career. Results. We received 176 responses (50% response rate after excluding invalid contacts) to the survey. During their training, 58% of fellows reported an interest in academia and 21% in research. There was great satisfaction with mentoring. However, there were concerns about academic salaries, with 50% of respondents stating a preference for a higher paying community position. Furthermore, there were substantial concerns about the difficulty of generating funds to cover salaries. In addition, several respondents viewed an academic career as incompatible with starting a family. Compared with male fellows, female fellows were more likely to want a career in academics, were less concerned about academic salaries, and were more concerned about funding and family life. Conclusion. Despite an interest in academia and satisfaction with current mentoring, several barriers to academia were identified among rheumatology fellows. The concern that academia and family life are incompatible needs further attention. University deans should consider reevaluating promotion programs to make allowances for family and parenting demands. Rheumatology division chairs should better promote the nonfinancial rewards of a career in academia. Programs such as the National Institutes of Health Loan Repayment Program should be strongly advertised to interested applicants with financial concerns.

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