BACKGROUND: Studies have shown that publication of work during medical school and residency is associated with higher numbers of later publications and citations of published research. However, it is unknown whether this association exists for non-PhD physician-scientists and whether the association persists later into their careers. METHODS: We extracted publication records from the curricula vitae (CVs) of 102 corresponding authors of articles published in 2008 in the New England Journal of Medicine and JAMA, and obtained those authors' citation records from Web of Science. We used regression models to examine the association between time of first publication and later publication and citation rates for the entire postgraduate career and a recent 2-year period. RESULTS: After adjusting for time since medical school graduation, sex, location of medical school (United States or not United States), and additional non-PhD degrees, we found that authors who first published before graduating from medical school had a greater mean number of publications after medical school and during the period from 2006 to 2007 (164 and 28, respectively) than those who first published during the 5 years afterward (111 and 19, respectively) and those who first published more than 5 years after graduation (59 and 13, respectively). Similarly, authors who first published before graduating from medical school had a greater mean number of citations of their published work since graduation and of publications from 2006 to 2007 (4634 and 333, respectively) than those who first published during the 5 years afterward (2936 and 183, respectively) and those who first published more than 5 years after graduation (1512 and 143, respectively). CONCLUSIONS: Early publication is associated with higher numbers of publications and more citations of published research among non-PhD physician-scientists. This association persists well into a researcher's career.