Outcomes From the NIH Clinical Research Training Program: A Mentored Research Experience to Enhance Career Development of Clinician–Scientists

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Abstract

Purpose

Clinician–scientists are considered an endangered species for many reasons, including challenges with establishing and maintaining a career pipeline. Career outcomes from yearlong medical and dental students’ research enrichment programs have not been well determined. Therefore, the authors assessed career and research outcome data from a cohort of participants in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Research Training Program (CRTP).

Method

The CRTP provided a yearlong mentored clinical or translational research opportunity for 340 medical and dental students. Of these, 135 completed their training, including fellowships, from 1997 to January 2014. Data for 130 of 135 were analyzed: time conducting research, types of public funding (NIH grants), and publications from self-reported surveys that were verified via the NIH Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools Web site and PubMed.

Results

Nearly two-thirds (84 of 130) indicated that they were conducting research, and over half of the 84 (approximately one-third of the total cohort) spent more than 25% of time conducting research. Of those 84, over 25% received grant support from the NIH, and those further in their careers published more scholarly manuscripts.

Conclusions

Data suggest that the CRTP helped foster the careers of research-oriented medical and dental students as measured by time conducting research, successful competition for federal funding, and the publication of their research. Longer follow-up is warranted to assess the impact of these mentored research experiences. Investments in mentored research programs for health professional students are invaluable to support the dwindling pipeline of biomedical researchers and clinician–scientists.

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