Characteristics and outcomes of Canadian MD/PhD program graduates: a cross-sectional survey Journal Articles uri icon

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  • BACKGROUND: Combined MD/PhD programs provide a structured path for physician-scientist training, but assessment of their success within Canada is limited by a lack of quantitative data. We collected outcomes data for graduates of Canadian MD/PhD programs. METHODS: We developed and implemented a Web-based survey consisting of 41 questions designed to collect outcomes data for Canadian MD/PhD program alumni from 8 Canadian universities who had graduated before September 2015. Respondents were categorized into 2 groups according to whether they had or had not completed all training. RESULTS: Of the 186 eligible alumni of MD/PhD programs, 139 (74.7%) completed the survey. A total of 136/138 respondents (98.6%) had completed or were currently completing residency training, and 66/80 (82%) had completed at least 1 postgraduate fellowship. Most (58 [83%]) of the 70 respondents who had completed all training were appointed as faculty at academic institutions, and 37 (53%) had been principal investigators on at least 1 recent funded project. Among the 58 respondents appointed at academic institutions, 44/57 (77%) dedicated at least 20% of their time to research, and 25/57 (44%) dedicated at least 50% to research. During their combined degree, 102/136 respondents (75.0%) published 3 or more first-author papers, and 133/136 (97.8%) matched with their first choice of specialty. The median length of physician-scientist training was 13.5 years. Most respondents graduated with debt despite having been supported by Canadian Institutes of Health Research MD/PhD studentships. INTERPRETATION: Most Canadian MD/PhD program alumni pursued careers consistent with their physician-scientist training, which indicates that these programs are meeting their primary objective. Nevertheless, our findings highlight that a minority of these positions are research intensive; this finding warrants further study. Our data provide a baseline for future monitoring of the output of Canadian MD/PhD programs.


  • Skinnider, Michael A
  • Squair, Jordan W
  • Twa, David DW
  • Ji, Jennifer X
  • Kuzyk, Alexandra
  • Wang, Xin
  • Steadman, Patrick E
  • Zaslavsky, Kirill
  • Dey, Ayan K
  • Eisenberg, Mark J
  • Gagné, Ève-Reine
  • HayGlass, Kent T
  • Lewis, James F
  • Margetts, Peter
  • Underhill, D Alan
  • Rosenblum, Norman D
  • Raymond, Lynn A

publication date

  • April 2017