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Innovative Intervention to Improve Pulmonary and Critical Medicine Fellows’ Research Training

Mayo Clinic
Rochester, MN

Program Director: Kannan Ramar, MD
Type of Program: Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine
Abstract Authors: Kannan Ramar, MD; Robert Vassallo, MD; Darlene R. Nelson, MD; and Jay H. Ryu, MD

The Mayo Clinic Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine (PCCM) Fellowship program consists of 24 months of clinical rotations and 12 months of dedicated research time, which usually occurs during the second year of the fellowship program. Fellows’ satisfaction with their research training and their research productivity were below expectations. The lack of awareness of ongoing research opportunities, time to reflect on long-term academic career goals, and prioritization of research interests during their busy first-year clinical fellowship rotations were identified as key causes of lack of satisfaction and reduced productivity, based on a survey of current and prior fellows. Lack of time for advanced planning led to a delay in initiating research projects during the research year.

The education leadership within the PCCM division allocated a month of research in the month of January during the first year of fellowship and developed a structured process with the following goals:

  • Explicitly state the goals/objectives of the January research month;
  • Provide time to survey online research courses from the Mayo Clinic’s Center for Clinical and Translational Science Activities (CCaTS);
  • Provide a venue for research mentors and research coordinators to interact and present ongoing work to fellows;
  • Facilitate encounters with principal investigators and their laboratories/programs;
  • Reflect on, plan, develop, and present a research plan to the education committee for approval by the end of the month;
  • Obtain the necessary approvals from relevant institutional boards (IRB and IACUC) before the start of the research year.

Twelve fellows participated with 11 fellows completing the post-intervention survey. Following the intervention, 9 out of the 11 fellows were very satisfied and the remaining 2 were somewhat satisfied with the January research month (Likert scale from 1 to 5, with 5 being very satisfied). Knowing the research mentors, the research opportunities and projects conducted by research mentors, and the research resources within the institution significantly improved post-intervention (Figure). The number of manuscripts published by fellows at the end of their second year of research (for those who had the January research month) was 20, compared with 5 for fellows who did not have the intervention (p < 0.005). However, the latter was not controlled for other confounding variables.

Based on the positive results from this pilot project, the education committee has recommended continuation of a January month of research for the first-year fellows.


Last Reviewed: December 2016