Integrating Medical Research into the Undergraduate Medical Education Curriculum
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AbstractPurpose: Medical research is an important, yet often under represented, component of undergraduate medical education (UME). Though acknowledged, the fundamentals of biomedical research and its application to clinical medicine are infrequently part of the UME curriculum. To address this need, in 2013 – 2014 University of North Texas Health Science Center (UNTHSC) faculty and Cook Children’s Medical Center (CCMC) medical staff came together to formalize a mentored research program for medical students. A collaborative Pediatric Research Program (PRP) was established, with the goal of providing a mentored research experience for medical students designed to enhance research awareness and knowledge through systematic investigation, including research development, testing and evaluation. Methods: Medical Students completing the first year of UME who expressed an interest in pediatric research were eligible to participate in the PRP. Students were given options in various areas of Pediatrics. All of the students were able to participate in their first or second preferred research area in Pediatrics. All administrative procedures and requirements were completed before the program started, including Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) and Best Clinical Practices certification. A four week didactic course, which included- i) Research Design and Protocol Development; ii) Literature Review / Copyright and Plagiarism Issues; iii) Data Collection and analysis; and iv) Presentation and Publication Guidelines and Tips, took place during the students’ summer break of 2014. Results: 25 students joined PRP with mentorship of 19 faculty mentors. The faculty mentors were either General/Specialist in Pediatrics (MD/DO) or Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) with research-focused in Pediatrics. Out of 25 students, only 3 chose not to continue their research project in Year II of medical school. The students, who continued research during Year II of medical school, presented status reports of their projects to group of research mentors, administrative staff and fellow students in fall 2014. Conclusions: Majority of students were very satisfied with their mentors’ contributions in helping them achieve their research goals. Most of the students were very satisfied with accessibility to their faculty mentors and research coordinators. Almost all of the students were satisfied with clarity and practicality of program requirements and found the didactic course beneficial.