This is what you told yourself, your family and you significant other/spouse as you embarked on advanced training for a PhD or an MD. It's what everyone heard. It's what everyone expects. You are on the journey.
But is the vision still the same. Do you still see the white coat and sitting in the lab or the clinic. Is this still the path for you? For many folks it potentially is not.
For the scientist the choice is not necessarily his or her own. Sure, in 2017, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will invest $33.1 billion (1) in approximately 50,000 competitive grants that directly support 27,500 investigators (2) and 300,000 researchers. And the NIH supports an additional 6,000 scientists in its laboratories (3). In 2015, research investments also included $26.5 billion from other Federal agencies ($6.3 billion), foundations ($4.7 billion), and other non-business organizations ($15.5 billion).
That's a ton of money. But a new-minted life scientist (or a struggling post-doc) there is a lot of competition. In fact, NIH and biomedical funding and total awards show minimal growth (1) yet the number of newly minted (e.g., <35 years old) life science PhDs continues to grow. And the message for women scientists too is concerning since women accounted for much of the 7000 increase in life science PhDs received between 1993 and 2002 (4).
The failure rate of entrepreneurial pursuits is high, but what is the failure rate of an NIH grant application. Failure is part of the process of success. So if entrepreneurship has some appeal then keep reading the next series of blogs as I delve into the field of Entrepreneurial Intent and discuss the process of switching from life scientist to business person including moving the numbers from p values to investor ROI.
References and Credits
Office of Budget (OB) Assistant Secretary for Financial Resources (ASFR). FY 2017 Budget in Brief - NIH. HHS.gov. February 16, 2016.
Lauer Mike. How Many Researchers?. NIH Extramur Nexus. May 31, 2016.
Budget. Natl Inst Health NIH. October 31, 2014.
Sciences National Research Council (US) Committee on Bridges to Independence: Identifying Opportunities for and Challenges to Fostering the Independence of Young Investigators in the Life. Where Are We Now?. National Academies Press (US). 2005.