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November 2002

Research Training in Otolaryngology: An Impending Crisis?

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2002;128(11):1239-1241. doi:10.1001/archotol.128.11.1239

THE RECRUITMENT, training, and career support of clinician scientists is an increasingly challenging problem facing academic medicine. For the past 30 years, the declining role of physicians engaged in basic and translational research in the United States has been a growing national concern. This unfortunate circumstance was clearly documented more than 20 years ago1-6 and was emphatically reiterated 10 years ago by the Task Force for the National Strategic Plan of the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD). In all reviews and updates of this strategic plan, concern regarding research training and subsequent research career success for physicians in otolaryngology and communication disorders has been strongly expressed. It is important to note that national funding for research training as a percentage of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) budget has decreased over the past 20 years largely because the research training budget has remained flat in constant dollars. In the past 10 years, the number of successful individual NIH competing applications for doctor of medicine research training fellowship positions has decreased 32%, while doctor of philosophy fellowships have increased 10%.7 As a specialty, otolaryngology appears less well-funded than other surgical specialties, and the trend in funding appears to have decreased over the past 10 years.8