More than grit: growing and sustaining physician-scientists in obstetrics and gynecology

Jacqueline G. Parchem, Courtney D. Townsel, Sarah A. Wernimont, Yalda Afshar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Obstetricians know the statistics-1 out of every 10 babies is born premature; preeclampsia affects 1 in 25 pregnant people; the United States has the highest rate of maternal mortality in the developed world. Yet, physicians and scientists still do not fully understand the biology of normal pregnancy, let alone what causes these complications. Obstetrics and gynecology-trained physician-scientists are uniquely positioned to fill critical knowledge gaps by addressing clinically-relevant problems through fundamental research and interpreting insights from basic and translational studies in the clinical context. Within our specialty, however, physician-scientists are relatively uncommon. Inadequate guidance, lack of support and community, and structural barriers deter fellows and early stage faculty from pursuing the physician-scientist track. One approach to help cultivate the next generation of physician-scientists in obstetrics and gynecology is to demystify the process and address the common barriers that contribute to the attrition of early stage investigators. Here, we review major challenges and propose potential pathways forward in the areas of mentorship, obtaining protected research time and resources, and ensuring diversity, equity, and inclusion, from our perspective as early stage investigators in maternal-fetal medicine. We discuss the roles of early stage investigators and leaders at the institutional and national level in the collective effort to retain and grow our physician-scientist workforce. We aim to provide a framework for early stage investigators initiating their research careers and a starting point for discussion with academic stakeholders. We cannot afford to lose the valuable contributions of talented individuals due to modifiable factors or forfeit our voices as advocates for the issues that impact pregnant populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican journal of obstetrics and gynecology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2021 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


  • National Institutes of Health
  • bias
  • career development
  • diversity
  • early stage investigator
  • equity
  • inclusion
  • mentee
  • mentorship
  • motherhood penalty
  • physician-scientist
  • pipeline
  • training grants
  • translational science
  • underrepresented in medicine


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