by Viktoria Papp
This session was organised by the EAN Residents & Research Fellows Section, specifically for future neurologists, neurology residents, and neurologists at the beginning of their career, to inspire them to pursue an academic or research career such as a PhD programme. Through the invited speakers’ personal experiences, the session presented different career pathway options and helpful suggestions for dealing with major challenges when combining clinical and research work at different career stages.
Dr. Anna Sauerbier is a neurology resident from Germany who completed her PhD programme in the United Kingdom. Her story was an example of a young physician entering a research environment at a very early stage of her career in neurology. She described the drives she had, such as passion for research, flexible career perspective, professional and personal development, establishing an international network and experiencing a new country. She mentioned the possible advantages and disadvantages of starting a PhD programme before the residency.
Dr. Diana Aguiar de Sousa is a Portuguese neurologist who did her PhD during the residency programme. Besides her personal experience, she presented more general advantages and disadvantages of pursuing a PhD programme during neurology training and reminded us of famous doctors who chose the same path. She also highlighted that any research activities during residency could have multiple beneficial effects on the career and development of a young neurologist.
Dr. David Garcia Azorin is a Spanish neurologist who completed his residency training prior to his PhD programme in Spain. As he mentioned, despite his research interest, many other factors influenced his decision and his options regarding when to start a research career. He found several advantages to starting a PhD after the completion of neurology training, including better understanding of neurological diseases, the opportunity to enrol your own patients, and having a more extensive network, just to name a few. In contrast, he found it more challenging to get a well-structured programme and keep a work-family balance. Based on his experience, he gave several suggestions on what to consider before pursuing a PhD programme.
Dr. Lisa Klingelhofer is a German neurologist deeply involved in research without doing a PhD. She started her research activities during her medical education. She showed the pathway of a continuous combination of clinical and research work. Finally, she explained the differences between a PhD programme and a Dr. Med. programme.