Otolaryngologists with a desire to broaden their careers beyond traditional medical practice have several options. Programs exist that can open doors into medical leadership, health policy work, clinical and outcomes research and public office. Opportunities are available at all stages of a physician’s career. Here’s a look at a handful of programs that aim to provide physicians with the tools they need to take their careers in a new direction.
Explore this issue:November 2011
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars
Gordon Sun, MD, knew he wanted not only to impact individual patients’ lives as a doctor but also to have an effect on a whole neighborhood, city or population. A research rotation at the beginning of his third year of residency showed him that he had an aptitude for research and medical writing. So he set out to marry his interest in population health with research. His mentors pointed him to Jay F. Piccirillo, MD, the first otolaryngologist to go through the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Clinical Scholars program. After hearing about the program from Dr. Piccirillo, director of Washington University’s Clinical Outcomes Research Office in the department of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery, Dr. Sun applied in his fourth year of residency, was accepted and entered the program in July 2011.
“Training with the RWJF Clinical Scholars program will be useful in the future if I am approached with a systematic problem that needs to be solved, an issue that will impact public health and public safety,” Dr. Sun said. “With the right leadership training and research background, I will be able to both address the problem and disseminate the results accurately.”
The program offers graduate-level study and research in a university-based, post-residency training program. It generally involves two years of study, with protected time for research.
On average, 24 scholars are selected annually. They train at the University of California, Los Angeles; University of Michigan; University of Pennsylvania or Yale University. Scholars receive stipends comparable to those for similar research training positions. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) covers the stipends for half of the scholars, and local VA affiliates provide in-kind research and faculty support to all scholars.
Participants conduct research projects in an area of their interest. The program includes leadership training and education about community-based participatory research. Dr. Sun, conducting his training at the University of Michigan, is researching outcomes among veterans with head and neck cancer. His position is supported jointly by the VA and RWJF.