The Pediatric Research Program: A Sustainable Voluntary Experience for Students of the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine




Hamby, Tyler
Basha, Riyaz
Wilson, Don
Bowman, W. Paul


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Purpose: A knowledge of research is an essential part of medical education. While introducing medical students to the basic concepts of research is vitally important in encouraging trainees to consider academic careers, inclusion in a crowded academic curriculum and the availability of research mentors is challenging. To address this need, in 2013 the Department of Pediatrics and Women’s Health, Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine (TCOM), initiated the Pediatric Research Program (PRP) in collaboration with Cook Children’s Health Care System to provide mentored research experience to enhance research awareness and knowledge among interested TCOM students. Methods: PRP Administrative Team recruited interested academic/community physicians, medical staff and researchers to mentor students. In early spring, interested first year TCOM students complete an application indicating their area of interest. Following a screening interview, those accepted for the PRP are assigned a mentor(s). PRP students conduct research in the summer after the completion of their first year. Participants are provided with a structured on-line curriculum and timeline. Expectations include required training, didactic education covering the topics related to research design, data analysis and preparing research presentations and poster presentations for scientific meetings. A measure of the PRP’s success was determined by surveying participants’ satisfaction and research productivity (number of presentations/publications). Results: PRP trained 180 students between 2013-2018. The number of applicants has more than tripled in 5 years, reaching approximately 40% of the students in TCOM class of 2022. Participation of mentees and mentors was entirely voluntary. PRP assessment through surveys showed a steady improvement in satisfaction and productivity. In 2018, CANVAS platform was exploited for offering the program which was more convenient and became preferred by the participants. Conclusion: PRP demonstrated a successful model for designing a cost-effective, sustainable and productive program for medical students. This program provides research experience with structured training without affecting the regular curriculum. Timely program assessment through surveys and adopting required changes has improved the experience of participants and proven crucial for the success of this program.