Academic Medicine Career Path

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Academic Medicine Career Path

In today’s world, there are many different paths to choose from when it comes to career choices. One of these is the academic medicine route. This type of field can be both rewarding and challenging, depending on what level you work at. If you are considering this path, here are some things that may help you decide if it would be a good choice for your future career. This blog post is going to be discussing the basics of what academic medicine is, the difference between a position in a medical school and a community clinic, and information on how much you can expect to earn depending on your level.

1. What Is Academic Medicine?

Academic medicine, also called academic health science centers, are medical institutions that are located on a university campus. They usually have both an affiliated medical school or college as well as different types of hospitals or clinics attached to them. The main focus of this career path is teaching and research. There may be various levels within the institution, such as basic science, clinical medicine, public health, medical humanities, or school of pharmacy.

There are many different specialties that you can have with this type of career path. Some examples are internal medicine, psychiatry, pediatrics, surgery, neurology, obstetrics and gynecology, anesthesiology, emergency medicine, family practice, ophthalmology, dermatology, orthopedics, otolaryngology, urology, cardiology, neurology, pathology, radiology, geriatrics, gynecology, and oncology.

2. What Is the Difference Between a Medical School and a Community Clinic?

There are many differences that separate these two means of employment. The first is the requirement for obtaining the position. The majority of positions in medical schools are tenured or tenure track, which means that you are required to be full-time and need a Ph.D. or MD degree, depending on your level within the institution. Positions at community clinics are usually not required to have this much education, but it is still preferred if you have some type of experience.

Another difference is the pay rate for each position. It is well known that positions within medical schools are much more lucrative than those in community clinic settings. The reason being is that the position held at a medical school or college will have you teaching students or supervising residents and fellows. This helps to increase your status within the community and shows dedication to your students. It also demonstrates how much you know about certain areas of medicine, which helps you to be known as an expert in that area. And since these positions are often based on research, they may allow you to publish articles, something that is beneficial for professional development.

The last major difference is the amount of work that is expected from you. Medical schools have stricter guidelines as to how many hours you are allowed to work. If the position is at a community clinic, it may be up to forty hours or more per week which can sometimes lead to burnout. Those in medical school positions only have a set number of hours that they are required to work, usually around thirty hours which is more manageable.

3. How Much Can I Earn?

This is a common question that people have when considering this career path. It is true that academic medicine positions tend to pay more than community clinics, but just how much you can anticipate depends on what level and where you apply for your position. For example, if you choose to work at a medical school as an adjunct clinical faculty member, the salary will be around $30,000 to $50,000 per year.

Statistics show that the average salary for community clinic members is about $132,870, whereas if you work at a medical school as an attending physician, it will increase to about $150,494. This does not include bonuses that may also come with your position. If you are doing research, your salary will vary depending on the institution that is doing the research. If it’s a private clinic or pharmaceutical company, then the pay will be much higher than if you are working at a public medical school.

4. What Are the Job Options Available in This Career?

Some of the job options available in this career include:

Clinical faculty- This position is considered the most common if you are working at a medical school. This means that you will hold clinical appointments and teach on campus at least two days per week, but more time may be required depending on your rank within the institutional.

Administrators- These positions tend to offer higher salaries than faculty members or other staff, but they require many years of experience, usually at a university.

Resident supervisors- If you work as a resident supervisor, you will be responsible for teaching and training medical students or residents on how to practice medicine correctly. You will also oversee their performance, which can really help increase your status within the institution if they excel.

Research positions- These positions require a Ph.D., but they will allow you to oversee research that may benefit your career in ways that can’t be achieved doing clinical work. This is great if you want to stay within the field of medicine because it demonstrates your commitment and dedication to furthering medical knowledge.

5. What Should I Expect?

Expect to work long hours. The amount of time you will have at home will depend on the type of position that you choose, but in general, working within medical schools is much busier than working in a community clinic. You may also need to go to work when even assigned by your supervisor. For example, if there is an emergency and they need help at the hospital or clinic, you will be required to work. This is not so different from any other career, but it’s still something worth considering when making your decision.

Another thing to consider is that this job does require a great deal of educational experience in most cases, which means that sometimes running experiments, analyzing data, and teaching can take up a lot of your time.

6. What Are the Possible Drawbacks?

The main drawback that you may face is burnout. Once again, this is not an unusual occurrence with any career, but it does tend to be more common if you work within medical schools. This is because, like most jobs, there will always be emergency situations, and sometimes they arrive suddenly. If you are not prepared, then working 12-hour shifts can be very draining on your mind and body.

Another drawback that is especially true for attending physicians is the amount of responsibility they must carry when accepting a position within an institution. For example, if anything goes wrong while under their watch, it falls onto them to take the blame. This can be very stressful because you feel like you are constantly under the microscope, but that is the nature of the job.

7. What Skills Should I Have?

The basic skills needed to work within medical schools include:

Great communication and listening skills: Working in a school is very much like working as part of a team, and this means that you will be required to work with other individuals. When doing so, it’s important to be able to communicate clearly and concisely, which can become challenging during emergencies

Critical thinking: This is especially true when you are working on new research projects.

Good problem-solving skills: There will always be times when people within the school need help, which means that you may end up having to solve an issue that has not occurred before. It’s important to be able to do this efficiently and professionally.

Patience: Sometimes, students and residents may not be as skilled as you or each other, which means that you will need to guide them politely.

Empathy: Similar to patience, empathy can help when interacting with people who are going through a situation. This is especially important if they are very emotional.

8. What Career Paths Are Possible?

Some of the career paths that you can take if working within medical schools include:

Anesthesiologist: If you choose to become an anesthesiologist, then you will be responsible for supplying pain relief and putting patients at ease during the surgery.

Obstetrician/Gynecologist: This is a very common job and offers a good salary for the amount of responsibility that it requires.

Pediatrician: Pediatricians work with children and often treat illnesses, but they may also give developmental advice to families.

Psychiatrist: As a psychiatrist, your duties can include anything from diagnosing mental disorders to giving medication.

Surgeons: As a surgeon, you will be responsible for the diagnosis and treatment of patients. You may even need to perform procedures on them.

Psychologists: This career path is particularly useful if you want to pursue research in some manner.

Research Assistant: A research position can provide an excellent way to stay abreast of relevant medical information and techniques.

Toxicologist: Toxicologists are responsible for determining whether a substance is safe or not, which can take place in a variety of settings, including medical schools.

9. What Is the Typical Workday Like?

Depending on the responsibilities that you are given when working within medical schools, your workday can vary quite a bit. A lot of this will depend upon where in the school you choose to work and if you are an attending physician or not. Here is what someone working in a lab may experience:

  • Their day begins by meeting with colleagues to discuss projects.
  • Afterward, they may research using computerized journals and books, but they can also travel to a library or other facilities to gather information.
  • They then analyze their findings and prepare a report that outlines the results of their research for future reference.
  • If necessary, they may continue performing experiments on lab samples.
  • They can be required to teach students or other individuals about their research in order to help them learn more.
  • Finally, they may spend time writing proposal applications for future projects.

10. What Are Some Common Misconceptions About the Profession?

One of the main misconceptions involving this career path is that you do not actually have to go through medical school in order to work in a medical school. Medical assistants are professionals who have completed training before being hired, and most employers will want proof of this education when hiring new staff members. This is especially true if you plan on teaching students because it shows that you are knowledgeable in your field of expertise.

Another common misconception is that a medical assistant can only work for a physician. While this assumption does have some truth to it, there are many career paths that you can take within a medical school beyond being a secretary or filing records.

11. What Is the Work Environment?

The work environment that you partake in a while working within a medical school can vary quite a bit. It will depend upon what type of job you end up taking and if it requires an office or lab setting, etc. In general, though, the environment is usually very professional.

Typically, working in a medical school can be very rewarding because you will get to see new research and techniques before they are released to the public. However, there are times when you may need to work along with students who are just learning the ropes. It is important to put yourself in their shoes and remember that if it were not for them, you would never have a job either.

12. What Advice Would You Give Someone Who Wants to Pursue This Career Path?

A great way to prepare yourself for entering this line of work is by taking classes in biology and chemistry while attending high school. These courses will provide the foundation knowledge necessary to continue your education further down the line. You may also want to consider becoming CPR certified so that you can easily find a job as a medical assistant.

To become a medical assistant, you will first need to earn an associate degree from an accredited community college or technical school. You can then begin your career by working in a medical school or an office setting while gaining experience. It is also possible to work as a phlebotomist prior to becoming a medical assistant. If you are interested, you can find schools that offer programs in this field here.

13. What Are the Best Schools to Study Academic Medicine?

Columbia University- Located in New York, Columbia University is a private research institution that offers undergraduate and graduate programs.

Harvard University- Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard University is a private school offering undergraduate and graduate degrees.

Johns Hopkins University- Baltimore, Maryland is home to Johns Hopkins University, which offers undergraduate and postgraduate degrees.

University of California- San Francisco- This public research institution located in downtown San Francisco offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees in academic medicine.

University of Chicago- The main campus for this prestigious institution can be found in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago. It is made up of both an undergraduate program as well as postgraduate studies for students interested in pursuing careers within academic medicine.


If you are looking for a challenging and rewarding career path within the medical field, then consider studying academic medicine. This area of medicine focuses on research and teaching students who will one day become physicians. There are many different schools that offer undergraduate and graduate programs in this field, so it is important to do your research before making a decision.

Once you have obtained your degree, you can begin working as a medical assistant in a variety of settings such as hospitals or research labs. You may also want to consider becoming CPR certified so that finding a job will be easier. The best way to further your education and knowledge within academic medicine is by continuing to take classes and attending workshops throughout your career.

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