Fewer surgeons perform research today, as compared with numbers from a decade or so ago. According to the American Association of Medical Colleges, although 45% of graduating medical students aspire to work in an academic setting, only about 16% will do so. Of those who do work in academic settings, up to 38% will leave academia within 10 years.
There are many reasons for this, but lack of funding topping the list. “Funding to surgeons has been steadily decreasing,” said Sundeep Keswani, MD, surgical director of basic science research at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston and a co-author of an Annals of Surgery article that identified barriers to success for surgeon scientists. “The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has had a stagnant budget for the last 15 years, and surgeons have had a significant reduction in overall funding from the NIH, which has been disproportionately decreased compared with their medical colleagues,” he added.
- Fewer surgeons perform research today than several decades ago.
- Funding to surgeons has been steadily decreasing, and rejection rates for grants are higher.
- Many surgeons lack the necessary mentorship to help successfully secure funding.
- The lack of research in surgery means that the practice of surgery could become relatively stagnant.
Allan M. Goldstein, MD, professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School, chief of pediatric surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital, and a co-author of the Annals of Surgery article, believes that the NIH and other funding agencies may look less favorably upon surgeons because they assume that surgeons commit less time to science than non-surgeons.