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What Is Academic Medicine?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 20 November 2016
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Academic medicine is the scholarly pursuit of medical topics by doctors and other health care providers. They perform research to advance treatment and control of disease and educate the next generation of care providers at facilities like teaching hospitals. Medical professionals involved in this area of medicine may provide direct patient care in clinical settings in addition to participating in research trials and administrative activities, like supervising people in medical training. This field can be extremely competitive, and the pay is often not as high as those entering private practice, depending on medical specialty and economic climate.

One aspect of academic medicine involves medical instruction. People in training to become doctors, nurses, and other care providers need instruction from experienced professionals in both classroom and clinical environments. Instructors need to keep pace with the latest developments in the field to provide the best education to their students. Many work in state of the art facilities that provide very high level patient care and numerous opportunities for learning.

Medical educators may participate in clinical practice and research in addition to training students. Some encourage students to get involved in research, and may make spots available on the teams supervising clinical trials for promising students in their programs. At training institutions with strong reputations, there may be an expectation to engage in continuing education, research, and professional networking to rise in the ranks and receive tenure. These facilities want faculty with strong reputations to attract patients and students alike.

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This field also includes research and development. People who work in academic medicine may explore new medications, medical imaging technologies, and treatment protocols. They can work on more effective methods to prevent disease, rapidly cure medical conditions, or manage chronic conditions. Researchers in academic medicine can work on topics like inventing new medical devices, changing protocols in surgery to protect patients, and searching for new cures and treatments.

For those in the research field, much of the work is supported by grants. Care providers working in academic medicine need to be able to handle administrative activities like applying for grants, meeting with review boards to discuss studies, and getting approval from government regulators for clinical trials. Grant funds are often limited, which can create considerable competition. Applicants who want an edge need to publish regularly, participate in conferences, and engage in other professional development to impress grant committees with their credentials and experience.

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