Skip to main content

Pathway Steps

2 years (24 months). The Internal Medicine Residency at the University of North Carolina offers excellent clinical training, robust research opportunities and mentoring, and outstanding teaching by dedicated faculty. Our unique subspecialty training experiences expose residents to a breadth of clinical expertise while also providing substantial mentoring and research opportunities. The culture at UNC is one that fosters resident autonomy in a clinically challenging yet supportive environment. Our board pass rate is consistently 96-98%, significantly higher than the national average of 87%.

Read further information regarding the residency program.

Subspecialty training and mentored research is expected to take between 4-5 years, 1-2 years of which is spent in ABIM subspecialty clinical training, and the remaining 3 y in Research. Select candidates may qualify for the program while pursuing training in general medicine.

i) Selecting a subspecialty. We anticipate most candidates will select their sub-specialty focus prior to beginning the Internal Medicine Residency. During year 1 of the program, scholars who have not selected a specialty focus will meet with sub-specialty program directors and the PSTP director. Uncommitted scholars will select their sub-specialty program for year 3 based on clinical and research interests, with the agreement of the specific Division Director.

Each Division within the Department of Medicine offers a fellowship program, which includes:

ii) Subspecialty clinical training.  We anticipate most scholars will complete the clinical requirements for their chosen subspecialty training in year 3 (or year 4 for programs that require 2 years of subspecialty training). During clinical training the scholar will follow the curriculum maintained by the appropriate subspecialty program. With approval of the subspecialty program director and the PSTP director, PSTP scholars may spread their clinical requirements over years 3, 4, and 5 or shift their clinical training year into year 4 or 5, in order to accommodate specific research project needs.

Research year 1. Scholars will work with the PSTP leadership committee and subspecialty fellowship director to select a research mentor prior to completion of clinical Internal Medicine residency training. The research mentor may be in a clinical or basic department, or potentially in one of the other Schools at UNC (e.g., Pharmacy, Public Health). If the mentor is outside of the Subspecialty Division, the Division Director will need to agree to the research plan.

The goal of the first research year is to provide a solid foundation of mentorship and technical training that will launch the scholar’s independent academic career. Fellowship programs will be required to guarantee that 80% of the scholars’ time will be protected for research activities. Research progress and the role of the mentor will be followed closely by the PSTP committee, as the scholar-mentor lab interaction is crucial to success in the first research year.

The PSTP leadership team will make a significant commitment to our scholars, comprising regular meetings, research support, training & career development support, and direction to projects that would be expected to lead to scientific independence and launch a successful academic career. In addition to research support supplied by the mentor’s lab, scholars will receive yearly research funds of up to $100,000 over 3 years of mentored research from the PSTP program. This money may be spent to hire personnel or acquire reagents, equipment, or services required for the scholar’s research. Mentors and the PSTP committee will work together to identify relevant coursework (or other training opportunities) as well as early-investigator funding opportunities from which the scholars may obtain additional research funds.

Research years 2-3. Goals for this period are to complete research and training needed for the scholars to present themselves as independent investigators to junior faculty selection committees and funding agencies. Fellowship programs will guarantee 80% protected research time. By the end of year 3, scholars should be able to write a strong application for an NIH K or similar career development award from foundations. Some scholars, especially those whose fellowship research extends earlier research experience, may be ready during year 3 to apply for NIH R or similar project-level grants, which is highly encouraged.

In year 6 (or year 7 for scholars with two required years of clinical subspecialty training), the PS scholar be supported at faculty rank while continuing research in the mentors’ laboratory space and support by the DOM. In this year, scholars should apply for additional support for their research endeavors from the NIH and non-profit foundations. At the end of the program it is hoped that the PS will be an excellent candidate for recruitment to a tenure track Assistant Professor position with bargaining power for start-up package.

Research and Career Guidance

The Medicine PSTP program is committed to ongoing collaborative mentorship and support. In addition to the primary laboratory mentor(s), scholars will have regular meetings to discuss scientific aims, career development goals, and research progress with each other and with PSTP faculty. Scholars will be advised as to available competitive awards and funding opportunities and mentored in applying for these.

PSTP trainees will be encouraged to take advantage of highly successful courses focused on grant writing in place at UNC. PSTP trainees applying for K-series career development grants will participate in Epid805/806 from the UNC Translational and Clinical Research Curriculum. PSTP trainees with projects that are appropriate for R-series project grants can join the R-Writing Group led by Drs. Rubin and Duncan.

The PSTP program maintains active oversight of scientific and career development mentorship, research funds allocation, and progress to ensure scholars achieve their goals and have the support needed to launch their academic careers.

Benefits of Physician Scientist Training Program

The Department of Medicine commitment to PSTP scholars will include:

  • Training in Internal Medicine and subspecialty of chosen by trainee through the ABIM Research Pathway
  • Guaranteed salary support for protected research time of at least 80% during research years
  • Faculty appointment during final year of ABIM Research Pathway training
  • Up to $100,000 to support research project development during research years
  • Regular meetings with PSTP leadership and colleagues covering both science, grant development and career development

Listen to Learn More

Physician Scientist Training Program Director Dr. Joseph (Alex) Duncan was interviewed by Department of Medicine Chairman Dr. Ron Falk about this program. This podcast was posted on the Chair’s Corner.



Download or view PDF