Engagement of clinicians in research is important for the integration of science and clinical practice. However, at this moment, there is a shortage of clinician-scientists. Success experiences can stimulate student interest in a research career. Conducting actual research leading to publication is a potential method to gain success experience. This study assessed whether publication as a medical student is associated with publication after graduation. We determined whether medical students in the Netherlands who are involved in research, as measured by publication in international journals before graduation: 1) are more likely to publish, 2) publish a greater number of papers, and 3) have higher citation impact scores after graduation.
We matched 2005–2008 MD graduates (with rare names, n = 4145 in total) from all eight Dutch university medical centres to their publications indexed in the Web of Science and published between 6 years before and 6 years after graduation. For sensitivity analysis we performed both automatic assignment on the whole group and manual assignment on a 10% random sample.
Students who had published before graduation: 1) were 1.9 times as likely to publish, 2) published more papers, and 3) had a slightly higher citation impact after graduation.
Medical students who conducted research leading to a publication before graduation were more likely to be scientifically active after graduation. While this is not a causal relationship per se, these results cautiously suggest that successful early involvement in research could influence the long-term scientific activity of clinicians.