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Introduction to Hematology The Educational Path of a Hematologist in the U.S. Careers in Hematology: The Private Practice of Hematology
Careers in Hematology: Hematology-Oncology: Do Two Halves Make a Whole? Careers in Hematology: How to Find an Academic Job After Fellowship

Careers in Hematology:
How to Find an Academic Job After Fellowship

Robert F. Todd, III, M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Todd is Professor of Internal Medicine and Division Chief of the Department of Hematology/Oncology at the University of Michigan.

Types of Academic Positions

In the disciplines of adult and pediatric hematology/oncology, there are three basic types of academic positions. The Physician Scientist has a dominant focus in basic or translational laboratory research (generally 75-80 percent effort) with limited clinical care and teaching activities. The Clinician Investigator performs patient-oriented clinical investigation (clinical trials, prevention, or health services/outcomes research) combined with patient care that is complementary to the focus of research interests. The Clinician Educator has a dominant focus on clinical care coupled with medical education. Academic titles and tracks vary among institutions, but starting academic positions often carry the titles Instructor or Assistant Professor. Junior faculty in the tenure track generally have six to 10 years to achieve the level of productivity to warrant promotion and tenure, with a guarantee of a longer-term financial commitment. Faculty working in non-tenure tracks often have renewable employment contracts, but generally without the longer-term commitment of "tenure."

Applying/Interviewing for an Academic Position

Academic employment opportunities can be identified from journal advertisements, the employment Web sites of professional societies, including ASH, and personal contacts (generally with the help of a mentor). On the basis of a review of submitted CVs and personal references, selected candidates are invited for a one- to two-day interview. The academic interview provides an opportunity for the applicant to meet with unit leadership and prospective colleagues, including potential collaborators. The applicant is generally expected to deliver a 50-minute seminar which highlights his/her research or clinical experience. Since considerable weight is given to the quality of the seminar (both its content and delivery), applicants are advised to prepare carefully, with particular attention given to clarity and the effective use of visual aids.

The Academic Offer Letter: What to Expect and How to Evaluate

The preferred candidate for an academic position is given a written offer letter which outlines the terms and expectations of the appointment. For the laboratory-oriented Physician Scientist, institutional commitments should include independent laboratory and office space, access to core resources, shared secretarial and grants management support, and laboratory start-up funding (for equipment, consumable supplies, recharges for shared core facilities, and technical support) sufficient to run a small laboratory operation for two to three years pending receipt of extramural support. The letter should also document the availability of "protected time" (generally 75-80 percent professional effort) to pursue research activities and a senior mentor to assist in career development. The letter should describe the salary and benefits with criteria for merit raises/bonuses and other factors that may influence the salary, as well as the terms of employment with criteria for achieving promotion/tenure/reappointment. For the patient-oriented Clinician Investigator, the terms of the offer letter are similar but with other elements that include the availability of patients (with relevant diseases) to serve as potential human volunteers in clinical research studies. A significant proportion of the expected clinical effort should complement the focus of clinical research. Other factors of importance to the clinical investigator are the availability of relevant laboratory collaborators, ancillary services critical to clinical research, and support personnel which may include data management, biostatical, and physician extender support. The time that is protected for clinical research should be clearly indicated. To avoid future misunderstandings, "get it in writing."


Looking for $$$? Postdoctoral Fellow Funding Opportunities

Mona D. Shah, MD

Dr. Shah is a Postdoctoral Clinical Fellow in the Department of Pediatrics, Division of Hematology/Oncology at Texas Children€™s Hospital, Baylor College of Medicine.

In recent years, reduced trends in the funding of young biomedical research scientists have raised serious questions about the future of life sciences research. As federal funding sources have become more competitive, young investigators must constantly seek new opportunities. Unfortunately, navigating the alphabet soup of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and nonprofit-funding resources is a challenge for the uninitiated.

Briefly, there are three main categories of NIH grants for young investigators: 1) The National Research Service Awards (NRSA) €” €œT€ grants, 2) €œF€ grants, and 3) €œK€ awards. The €œT€ (training) grants are generally awarded to institutions that train residents and postdoctoral fellows. These grants are primarily used to promote the education of our future researchers. The €œF€ (fellowship) grants are typically awarded to individuals, either predoctoral or particularly promising postdoctoral fellows, to promote diversity in health-related research. Many of these awards are granted to those who demonstrate the potential to become independent investigators. The €œK€ (career development) awards are granted to individuals during the mentored phase of their career. These awards focus on enhancing career development while providing protected time to selected investigators.

The American Society of Hematology (ASH„) has always recognized the need to foster young trainees €” offering numerous resources to hematologists interested in advancing their careers. In an effort to de-mystify this application process, the ASH Trainee Council recently revised their educational Trainee Career Center Web page. A key feature has been the addition of the recently unveiled Grants Clearinghouse a comprehensive list of research grants for hematology trainees in various stages of training (both MDs and PhDs). The Grants Clearinghouse provides a multitude of hematology-related research grant opportunities available through ASH, NIH, and other federal agencies, as well as award opportunities from selected patient groups. Each grant entry included in the Grants Clearinghouse (available to all ASH members as a downloadable Excel file) provides a brief description of the grant award, the sponsoring organization, eligibility and citizenship requirements, award amounts and duration, and the most recent deadline and Web link information.

The newly revised Training section of the ASH Web site also contains other valuable features for young investigators. These features include: an article titled €œMaking Sense of NIH Funding Opportunities,€ a primer on various NIH-funded grant opportunities; a PowerPoint presentation on €œPreparation for Life After Fellowship,€ which includes suggestions to guide fellows in preparation for life after training; and a €œCareer Development Timeline for Trainees,€ a generalized framework for the career development of trainees at various stages. We invite you to explore these newly added features as well as take advantage of the numerous opportunities afforded through ASH membership on the ASH Web site.

Introduction to Hematology The Educational Path of a Hematologist in the U.S. Careers in Hematology: The Private Practice of Hematology
Careers in Hematology: Hematology-Oncology: Do Two Halves Make a Whole? Careers in Hematology: How to Find an Academic Job After Fellowship
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