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  • Academics + real estate professional status?

    I'm a fellowship-trained surgeon, experienced real estate investor, have been doing this since I finished college, many successful rentals and have experience managing >$1M construction projects and developing multifamily condos from the ground up. I was offered a job in academics. My potential Chair said I could set it up however I want. 40/60, 60/40, I pick.

    Would it be possible to have real estate professional status as an academic working <0.5 FTE? I was wondering if anyone has done this before, and was wondering how this would work with any potential grant funding etc. Would I definitely have to forgo grant funding if I worked less than 0.5 FTE? For example, I understand that K awards are meant to supplement up to 50% of clinical income, but would the terms of grant funding be in direct conflict with the tax reporting of being a full time real estate professional?

    My husband is a high earner. We could likely come out ahead if I did more real estate and less clinical practice based on tax sheltering alone. Currently I'm in a full-time private practice, but weighing whether this would be advantageous professionally and financially. I have no concerns about actually winning grants or being productive in research with this scenario - based on my publication record during a busy residency, I know I can be academically productive and competitive in my field with a <50% time expenditure - have been able to set up the right support and research "pipeline" with medical students, other residents, etc.

  • #2
    from a time standpoint there is no way you could maintain your surgical practice, do a K, and work in real estate unless you literally didn't sleep.

    i don't know the inner processes of how Ks get awarded but i think at some point if you are going to have a career as an investigator you will have to chose between that and real estate.

    the serious investigators i know with federal funding barely have time to work shifts, let alone run a side gig.

    ymmv.

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    • #3
      Not likely. Don’t let the tax tail wag…consider your QOL and road to FI. Would make a nice wager this might be scenic for awhile but leads to a dead end.
      Our passion is protecting clients and others from predatory and ignorant advisors. Fox & Co CPAs, Fox & Co Wealth Mgmt. 270-247-6087

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      • #4
        Most K awards expect 75% effort on the grant. You may be among the specialties that permit as little as 50%. But people who make it as investigators devote all their time and energy to it. If you have something completely outside of medicine that you do half time it will be nearly impossible to compete with full time scientists.

        If I were reviewing a proposal in which the time not required to be spend on K activities was not going to be spent on medicine at all, I would not discuss it and move to the next grant. This is supposed to be career training for someone who wants to build a scientific career. If you want to be a real estate investor instead there is nothing wrong with that. However, K funds are not for that kind of career.

        A K award is not the only thing in academics. If you do not seek a grant that mandates a large share of your time and expects you to be building a career, then you have much more flexibility. An R award only commits you to the time it funds. Beyond that, you can do what you want. You still need to convince reviewers that you can and will be productive, but your time could be 10, 20, 30%, which would fit in your overall plan.

        Or don't pursue NIH funding at all. Most people in academics are never PIs. Then your schedule is between you and your chair.

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        • #5
          The rules are "more than 750 hours AND more than anything else you're doing." A half time academic might be working as many as 1000 hours. That's A LOT of real estate work in addition to your regular job. I wouldn't want to work that much. Now if you want to get almost completely out of medicine I think it's a reasonable pathway, but to really do it while having a "regular" career I think is tough.

          Not an expert on the grants and funding, but this seems like it would only work for someone who wanted to be a part-time clinical instructor to me, not a "real" faculty member or researcher on some kind of tenure track. But who knows, maybe I'm too pessimistic.
          Helping those who wear the white coat get a fair shake on Wall Street since 2011

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          • #6
            Originally posted by spindlecell View Post
            I'm a fellowship-trained surgeon, experienced real estate investor, have been doing this since I finished college, many successful rentals and have experience managing >$1M construction projects and developing multifamily condos from the ground up. I was offered a job in academics. My potential Chair said I could set it up however I want. 40/60, 60/40, I pick.

            Would it be possible to have real estate professional status as an academic working <0.5 FTE? I was wondering if anyone has done this before, and was wondering how this would work with any potential grant funding etc. Would I definitely have to forgo grant funding if I worked less than 0.5 FTE? For example, I understand that K awards are meant to supplement up to 50% of clinical income, but would the terms of grant funding be in direct conflict with the tax reporting of being a full time real estate professional?

            My husband is a high earner. We could likely come out ahead if I did more real estate and less clinical practice based on tax sheltering alone. Currently I'm in a full-time private practice, but weighing whether this would be advantageous professionally and financially. I have no concerns about actually winning grants or being productive in research with this scenario - based on my publication record during a busy residency, I know I can be academically productive and competitive in my field with a <50% time expenditure - have been able to set up the right support and research "pipeline" with medical students, other residents, etc.
            OK, couple of things. Sounds like you are a pathologist (spindle cell). Trust me 60/40 does not equal 60/40 when you are a junior faculty. 80/20 maybe 70/30 if you are lucky. You will be asked and there will be no way you can step aside from it, to cover other services, you will be chronically short-staffed, you will be sucked into other people's projects where it is politically unwise to say "no". And it is UBER hard as everyone else said, it is very, very hard to get a K out, then get on a R01 or even R23 track when you have a major other endeavor going on. I am not saying impossible, but everything would have to break right, everything. And you would have to have an awesome, well-connected mentor who would fight some battles for you -- and unless you are staying at your home institution that's hard to know ahead of time. I am not making this up, it is based on personal experience in a related field and first-hand knowledge of 30-40 people whom I know at least peripherally from top-10 residency programs who have tried something along those lines like a major enterpreneurial activity (usually a biotech startup), caring for a sick relative, or real estate I can only think of one (1) that actually suceeded and he/she (to protect identity) was a super-duper star from top #5 residency, with unending well of optimism, energy and most importantly efficiency. So again, not impossible but are you sure you are that special? If not you will see yourself try and fail, with something taking a short shrift, hopefully not clinical care (which you need to be committed 100% to when you are on service, and is quite hard especially as a new attending).

            I am not saying just throw your hands up and don't try, but you will have to have a super solid plan in place, stand by your guns and schedule and say no to basically every single committee or assignment you are asked to do. Be known as a "No" person. And have an uber-respected, high position and if that's even possible personally supportive mentor who can go to bat for you. Those are some tough hurdles to clear. Keep us (me) appraised about how it goes 3-4 years down the line, but again I am not terribly optimistic. Perhaps you can prove me wrong.

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            • #7
              Turning down work not directly related to your research is great advice for any junior faculty member trying to build a research career.

              If you really want to be an investigator, recognize that very few are successful doing it part time. If your heart is not in it enough to make that what you eat, sleep and breathe, then doing part time clinical work is a better idea.

              If you want to do research, a very small amount of clinical work and RE, also ask yourself how little clinical you want. K's are designed yo give you enough clinical time to keep getting good. If you spend the time that you are not working on the grant doing RE, then when are you going to practice? I would not want a 20%, or less, clinical surgeon operating on anyone.

              If you have a great research idea and a cooperative chair, then put in an R that requires much less than 50% effort. If you get it, you can do the project and see whether the career suits you.

              Recognize that Ks do not pay much money. Will your chair accept you with the only income being from the K? That may not be enough to make it worth having you around. If they do let you do it, they may pay you next to nothing.

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