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Lifelong learning as a clinical academic key to job satisfaction
  1. Steffen Erhard Petersen1,2
  1. 1 William Harvey Research Institute, Queen Mary University of London, London, UK
  2. 2 Barts Heat Centre, St Bartholomew's Hospital, Barts Health NHS Trust, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor Steffen Erhard Petersen, William Harvey Research Institute, Queen Mary University of London, London E1 4NS, UK; s.e.petersen{at}

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When I started to study medicine, I had a narrow view of what a doctor’s job looks like. Looking back over the last 20 years since my graduation, I now appreciate that medicine provides some of the most exciting opportunities and can lead to diverse roles. I hope by providing you with a personal glimpse into my career that you may reflect on your own plans and development.

I am driven not only by personal ambition but mostly, I think, by wanting to make a positive impact on patients, the public, colleagues and trainees. I enjoy lifelong learning, but a clinical academic career has challenges. Given we all have limited time to spare, there is a tension between clinical and academic excellence. There is also tension when striving for academic excellence—should one become the world expert in a narrow research topic or have multiple research interests? We can only try and find the right balance. Also, as a clinical academic, there is more uncertainty about job security than in a clinical job. I love learning, and I personally prefer structured learning. This is why I have many degrees.

My first clinical job after graduating in Germany involved cardiac magnetic resonance (CMR) research. I was lucky to be among the pioneers of the technique and to …

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  • Contributors SEP drafted and finalised this work.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.