PURPOSE - Factors that influence hematology-oncology fellows' choice of academic medicine as a career are not well defined. We undertook a survey of hematology-oncology fellows training at cancer centers designated by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) to understand the factors fellows consider when making career decisions.
METHODS - Program directors at all NCI and NCCN cancer centers were invited to participate in the study. For the purpose of analysis, fellows were grouped into three groups on the basis of interest in an academic career. Demographic data were tested with the Kruskal-Wallis test and χ² test, and nondemographic data were tested by using the multiscale bootstrap method.
RESULTS - Twenty-eight of 56 eligible fellowship programs participated, and 236 fellows at participating institutions responded (62% response rate). Approximately 60% of fellows graduating from academic programs in the last 5 years chose academic career paths. Forty-nine percent of current fellows ranked an academic career as extremely important. Fellows choosing an academic career were more likely to have presented and published their research. Additional factors associated with choosing an academic career included factors related to mentorship, intellect, and practice type. Fellows selecting nonacademic careers prioritized lifestyle in their career decision.
CONCLUSION - Recruitment into academic medicine is essential for continued progress in the field. Our data suggest that fewer than half the current fellows training at academic centers believe a career in academic medicine is important. Efforts to improve retention in academics should include focusing on mentorship, research, and career development during fellowship training and improving the image of academic physicians.