Skip to Main Content

We have a new app!

Take the Access library with you wherever you go—easy access to books, videos, images, podcasts, personalized features, and more.

Download the Access App here: iOS and Android. Learn more here!

About Kevin Petrecca and Matthew Dankner

Kevin Petrecca is a graduate of McGill University’s MD-PhD program. He is a neurosurgical oncologist, chief of the Department of Neurosurgery at the McGill University Health Centre, and was appointed as the William Feindel Chair in Neuro-Oncology at McGill University. He also directs an active research laboratory at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital, focused on understanding tumor heterogeneity in brain cancer.

Matthew Dankner is a fifth year MD-PhD student at McGill University. He is a Montreal native who graduated from McGill University with a bachelor of science in Honors Anatomy and Cell Biology before joining the MD-PhD program. For his PhD studies, Matthew is involved in basic, translational, and clinical research in the area of metastatic brain tumors, working closely with Dr. Petrecca and his research team.


The goal of this chapter is to share strategies that will help you secure your first job as a physician-scientist. There are many possible career trajectories for MD-PhDs, and that flexibility is the topic of Chapter 27, but this chapter is meant for those who wish to become physician-scientists in academia.

Preparing for a job can seem far off for students thinking about starting an MD-PhD degree, and even for students who are partway or most of the way to the finish line. The recruitment process is varied. Some students are actively recruited to the institution of their residency early on, whereas others establish networks through collaborators and at conferences to negotiate and land their future position at a different institution. The most important message: Start thinking about this and begin planning as early as possible.


  • Employment isn’t as far off as you think. Start planning early.

  • Maintain research productivity during residency.

  • Networking now can lead to jobs later.

  • Don’t feel tied to your home institution.

  • Negotiate for circumstances in which you thrive; you’ll have other opportunities.

Maintaining Research During Residency

When interviewing for a faculty position, it helps to show research productivity that is impactful, prolific, and up-to-date. You will be expected to propose an independent research program derived from your own self-directed research projects. If you do not continue your research activities between your PhD, as part of an MD-PhD program, and the time when you are searching for an academic position, there will be at least a 5-year gap in research productivity. Given the rapid pace at which research evolves, building on something completed 5 years earlier will likely be less exciting. Continuing research after your PhD, throughout medical school and residency, will allow you to remain at the cutting edge of science and technology. Chapter 24 presented the challenges of integrating research into your residency and proposes methods to overcome them. Bear in mind that continuing research throughout your medical training without ...

Pop-up div Successfully Displayed

This div only appears when the trigger link is hovered over. Otherwise it is hidden from view.