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Abstract

For several decades now, physician-scientists have been referred to as an “endangered species.” Many factors have contributed to the dearth of clinical investigators, and training programs in clinical research are just one tool in a multi-pronged strategy to increase the number of successful physician-scientists working in health research. A qualitative approach that analyzes students’ educational goals and experiences can help fill the gaps in our knowledge about how best to train aspiring physician-scientists. This study was an interpretive phenomenology that evaluated the Master of Science program in Clinical and Translational Research (MSCTR) at the University of Cincinnati. The purpose of the study was to allow students to articulate their expectations, needs, and experiences in the MSCTR. The study included a group level assessment (GLA) and document review. Findings suggest several reasons students enrolled in the MSCTR, as well as some areas for improvement in the program: more physician-centered classes, a more directed curriculum, and a more cohesive course plan overall. Conclusions from these recommendations are that student perspectives can inform decisions around curricula and instructional methods in powerful ways, particularly when combined with a qualitative methodological approach. This study revealed several insights into how faculty and administrators can more effectively train physicians in research methodology. Training should be as applied and relevant as possible to make it directly applicable to clinical practice. This goal could be enhanced if classes – particularly statistics classes – were more physician-oriented. The curriculum of a clinical research training program for clinicians should be clear and directed, but with some flexibility and space within the curriculum for classes within areas of specialization. Collaboration should be integrated throughout, and courses should follow a logical, interconnected sequence.

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