First-generation physician-scientists are under-represented and need better support

Christophers et al. / Nature Medicine / May 2021

Physician-scientists occupy a unique and important space that bridges scientific research and medical practice, and many have expressed concern that physician-scientists are an endangered species, with a dwindling pool of interested future researchers. Indeed, the number of MD-PhD applicants in the USA has remained stagnant from 2012, when there were 1,853 applicants, to 2020, when there were 1,825. Meanwhile, applications to medical school have steadily increased during the same time period, from 45,266 to 53,030. Is this because the traditional pool of applicants—those who have adequate advising and probably do not come from minority identities—has reached saturation? If so, there is a pressing need to recruit students who do not fit the traditional mold into the physician-scientist career path.