In a paper published online in advance in CBE—Life Sciences Education this week, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, "advocate for a broader doctoral curriculum that prepares trainees for a wide range of science-related career paths," because, they say, PhD programs of today "continue to prepare students for a traditional academic career path despite the inadequate supply of research-focused faculty positions." To support their stance, the authors report data from survey of UCSF PhD students in the basic biomedical sciences, many of whom "are already considering a broad range of career options" midway through their graduate training. Of the graduate students surveyed, many indicated that their "career path choices [had] shifted during the first three yr [years] of graduate school." The authors add:
This was primarily driven by decreased interest in becoming a PI at a research-intensive university. By the later years of graduate school, fully one-third of students stated they would choose a non-research career path.
To support what the authors call "this branching career pipeline," they suggest that "national standards for training and mentoring include emphasis on career planning and professional skills development to ensure the success of PhD-level scientists as they contribute to a broadly defined global scientific enterprise," UCSF's Office of Career and Professional Development Director Bill Lindstaedt et al. write.