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Table 3 Thematic summary of qualitative responses to open-ended questions about pursuing a clinician-scientist career (N = 263; total number of individual open-ended responses)

From: What will it take? Pathways, time and funding: Australian medical students’ perspective on clinician-scientist training

Major themes and sub-themes Representative quotes a n, %
TIME as a major theme was mainly about the extra time doing research might add on to medical training but had ramifications around delayed earnings, starting a family and the best use of time in the medical curriculum. 79, 30%
Time relating to Age “The thought of taking 2 years out while a student to defer income another 2 years while currently struggling financially is off putting” [M-2]
“Being a mature-age student, adding extra time onto an already lengthy training process without substantial financial recompense is not worth the time investment.” [M-2]
‘“Depending on your age, I believe the answer to this question changes. The older you are, the less inclined you are to extend the length of your studies, particularly due to cost.” [F-3]
“The additional years needed are the only reason I am not seeking to complete a RHD.” [M-2]
Time relating to females and starting a family “As a female student who wants to potentially have a family as well as a full-time career one day, I already feel the pressures of a long training program ahead.” [F-1]
“I am prioritising in being as advanced through my degree as possible before I am required to take time out to have a family. Adding two or more years to my medical school seems like it makes this more difficult.” [F-2]
“Mostly because of my age. I am 33 this year and I want to start a family. I am uncertain how I would be able to manage this with other professional commitments.” [F-1]
Time relating to the medical curriculum and limiting opportunities “The time commitments for med school is the biggest limiting factor for me pursuing research during this time.” [M-1]
“Research is such a great compliment to our medical degrees. However, time pressures seem to be a major deterrent for those interested in it.” [F-2]
“To try fit in research while already not having enough time to practice and apply what is being taught in Clinical Science and Examination is a huge negative deterrent from doing any research while studying.” [F-2]
FUNDING was closely related to the extra time required and potential loss of earning, and the impact on family plans. 63, 24%
Extra time and delay or loss of earning a salary “As a 21-year-old student who supports themselves financially, it is difficult for me to find the time for Medical school, a part time job and research. Financial incentives would definitely influence my opinion.” [M-4]
“Another two years working on PhD means two years of lost income over my lifetime, AS WELL AS two years of more interest accruing on my already massive debt.” [M-1]
“I can’t see research ever being a viable option other than as a passion simply because of the length of time undergraduate and medical school takes and the lack of income options.” [F-3]
“The only real barrier to me pursuing it in my medical degree is that I cannot financially afford to extend my study period.” [F-1]
Funding to encourage and support students with families, especially females “I am 31, I have 4 children and so I feel the need to get into paid work ASAP.” [M-3]
“As a 1st year medical student who will be turning 30 this year, it is definitely an influence. I have to start thinking about family planning immediately after graduation (main concern).” [F-1]
PATHWAY as a major theme comprises all of the above themes and comments as well as recommendations to provide early advice and mentorship to students. 92, 35%
A clear pathway to career opportunities beyond medical school “Getting funding is a major factor with regards to committing to clinician scientist pathway.” [M-1]
“The one thing that would be encouraging is a defined path(s) for a clinician-scientist route when starting internship.” [M-3]
“Some form of guarantee that time and funding would be made available goes a long way towards alleviating some of the fundamental burdens of students.” [F-1]
“It would be nice to be able to see more of this in action and have a structured pathway to follow.” [F-4]
“A more organized pathway connecting students to research and at least some funding to help supplement medical training.” [M-4]
Not every clinician will be a researcher (and vice versa). Those that have the talent and “fire breathing within” for a clinician-scientist pathway should be freely allowed to follow that path. And should be helped/mentored to do so along the way.” [M-1]
Mentoring and early career advice “A major obstacle for most students is taking on a research load on top of medical school. Information on support and process of this would help encourage students.” [F-2]
“A close mentor who could guide me through the research process would be beneficial.” [F-1]
“I think a mentoring program, in which students can meet and discuss options with students that are currently or have in the past done research during their time at UQ - would be of great help.” [M-2]
  1. a n = number of responses relating to that theme, % = those responses as a percentage of the total 263 open-ended responses
  2. Demographics are contained in brackets after quote as [sex-year of study] where male = M; female = F, and year of study = 1,2,3,4]