Date of Award

12-2019

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)

Advisor(s)

Ross Shegog

Second Advisor

Jason Salemi

Abstract

Introduction: Many young and ambitious physicians purposefully seek out meaningful careers in academic medicine, yet there are no evidence-based findings to assist these individuals in how to succeed in advancing their careers in this unique work environment. For early and mid-career faculty, a growing number of trainings and opportunities are available but with little insight as to which choices may have the biggest impact. One common perception is the need for additional advanced training, such as a Master of Public Health. Aims and Method: This study sought to provide evidence-based information about additional training by quantifying the benefit of added degrees on promotion for primary care physicians. The project was conducted as a cross-sectional study in 2019 using publicly available online data of full-time academic faculty in primary care departments within schools of medicine across the United States. Two data sets were obtained, one with a nationally represented sample of family medicine physicians and the second being a multispecialty cohort from academic institutions across Texas. Analyses included descriptive statistics, unadjusted generalized linear regression models (i.e., logistic regression), and adjusted models per academic rank level (i.e., those associated with higher academic rank (Associate and Associate to Full Professors) amongst all academic clinicians and those associated with higher rank (Full Professors only) amongst mid and senior level academic clinicians). Results: Added degrees were held by approximately 14% of all academic family physicians and approximately 12% of all primary care physicians. Amongst all family physicians, all added degrees were associated with an increased likelihood of association of being in a higher academic rank (aORs between 2.05 – 3.20), whereas PhD, MPH, and MS were the only added degrees associated with higher academic rank amongst mid and senior level faculty (aOR 1.85 – 2.47). Amongst all primary care specialties, an added degree continued to be significantly associated with higher academic rank amongst all faculty (aOR = 2.97, p-value 0.03). Important other covariates were found to be gender, specialty, and time in practice. Discussion: While general perceptions and beliefs commonly portray added degrees as beneficial investments for physicians, this study is the first to demonstrate and quantify this correlation. While there are numerous confounders, this study adjusts for many demographic features as well as time in practice, all of which that are known or proven to be associated with promotion. However, it is still challenging to account for academic productivity and future studies are being designed to better clarify the context surrounding the motivations and outcomes associated with physicians who obtain added degrees.

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