I got some good news today! I am happy to report that your favourite rheumatologist and epidemiologist is the latest recipient of an NIH Loan Repayment Award. This is indeed a Big Deal.

Some of you may know that the cost of higher education has been rising for many years. My medical school education at the Midwest University College of Medicine cost me … well never mind, but suffice it to say it’s more than I could expect to make in 5 years at my current salary. So when I heard that the NIH will help to pay back student loans for MDs who want to do clinical research, I jumped on it. After all, that’s my plan! Finish my training, get a graduate degree in epidemiology and jump into the world of academics. I’m perfect for it!

The idea behind this program is that the NIH recognizes that MDs take a pretty significant salary cut if they chose to go into academics. Academics do not get the Big Bucks. And there is a clear need for well trained clinical researchers (as opposed to academics who work a lab – I guess there’s a lot more of them). So this is an incentive program to encourage bozos like myself to stick to an academic career.

So over the next two years, as long as I spend 80% of my time doing research, they’ll pay off a hefty chunk of my student loans. If things continue to go well, I can get another 2 years added on.  Et voila, I come out of it all ready for a career in research, and with a whole lot less debt.

Now the catch here is that I better get some funding to support myself for the next few years! Remember that post I wrote a few days ago? It’s even more important now! If I don’t get funded, I can’t guarantee 80% research, and if I can’t do that, I’m ineligible for the repayment program.

So wish me luck! The grants are going in, and if I can get one the future for old Carpy-boy will look a whole lot brighter!