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Influential Factors for Post-Fellowship Career Decision-Making: An NCCN Survey

Jennifer L. Lyle, Jonathan L. Vandergrift, Jennifer M. Hinkel, Eva M. Lepisto, Kristie A. Cortazzo, Stephen Sherman, and F. Marc Stewart

Insight into factors important to fellows' decision-making about their career paths is critical to successfully developing program curricula, making capacity projections, and recruiting oncology physicians. This study was performed to determine the factors associated with post-fellowship career decision-making. Program evaluation surveys were administered to oncology fellows who attended the Fellows Recognition Program at the 2009 NCCN Annual Conference. A total of 125 (75%) fellows completed the initial survey. Overall, 73% of fellows reported participating in clinical research and 58% received formal training as part of their fellowship program. Receipt of formal training was correlated with greater program satisfaction (rs = 0.20; P = .03), feeling more prepared for a post-fellowship career (rs = 0.30; P < .001), and greater interest in clinical research post fellowship (rs = 0.32; P < .001). Interest in post-fellowship clinical research (rs = 0.49; P < .001) and importance of protected academic time (rs = 0.57; P < .001) were strongly correlated with interest in practicing in an academic environment, whereas institutional reputation (rs = 0.18; P = .04) and a multidisciplinary practice environment (rs = 0.22; P = .02) were moderately associated with interest. Location, salary, multidisciplinary environment, and flexible scheduling were the most important controllable lifestyle (CL) factors. These results suggest that fellowship programs may be able to foster a desire to participate in research and subsequent interest in practicing in an academic institution through providing opportunities for formal training in clinical research skills. However, even in an academic setting, CL factors are important to attracting and retaining faculty.