Integrated Physician Scientist Training Pathway underway


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MD/PhD student works on researchBuilding on the strengths of our existing Physician scientist training programs that support research in medical education, we are creating a competency-based, flexible, and customizable Integrated Physician Scientist Training Pathway (IPSTP).

The pathway provides opportunities for medical students who wish to pursue research at various points in their clinical training, with various levels of commitment. “The IPSTP articulates an understanding of our students’ diverse research needs by providing flexible ‘on ramps’ to research education throughout a student’s time at UME,” explains Dr. Norman Rosenblum, Associate Dean, Physician Scientist Training Programs, who is leading the development of the pathway.

Recent IPSTP initiatives include case-based learning (CBL) modules introduced in preclerkship in 2015-2016. By providing students with enriched content focusing on the broader context for clinical cases, these modules help first-year students think like physician scientists. In addition, to accommodate trainees in the MD/PhD Program who wish to take graduate courses, students now have dual status within the MD Program and the School of Graduate Studies (SGS) from the start of their combined program.

“Simultaneous entry allows for an introductory period to graduate studies before a trainee chooses a specific department for PhD-level research, and may shorten time spent during future doctoral studies if the student completes required graduate courses during this earlier period,” says Dr. Rosenblum. “It is through initiatives like these that we are achieving the goal of the integration of research and clinical education.”

Dr. Rosenblum is leading a qualitative research study focusing on the careers of physician scientists at different points of their careers. This study will help us understand better the opportunities and challenges for physician scientists, as well as their day-to-day practices, including how they are integrating their training into their careers.

The IPSTP is still in its early stages, but several exciting initiatives are in development. These include competency-based, research-integrative pathways for trainees in their transition to residency; a proposal for a graduate diploma in health research catering to students interested in research but not in the MD/PhD Program; and Physician Scientist Connects (PS CoNex), a hub for physician scientist education, mentorship and career development. 

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