A decline in the number of physician scientists in the United States, including a marked decrease in surgical scientists, correlates with the NIH Roadmap's concern about the lack of well-trained individuals with the capacity to translate research from bench to bedside. Mentors and early research training experiences are understood to influence career choices and likelihood of pursuing medical careers in research;therefore, there is much value in providing formal research training opportunities to medical students to encourage pursuit of careers in research. In response to this need, the University of Wisconsin (UW) Surgery Summer Research Experience for Medical Students has trained 136 medical students in surgical- related research projects, 24 pursuing NIDDK related research supported by this training grant, with documented success in increasing interest in both research and academic surgery careers. The program provides medical students with a focused, 8-12 week, mentored research and training experience that guides students towards a career pathway which integrates biomedical research, with a secondary goal of encouraging students to in the field of academic surgery. The program fosters the development of knowledge, competence, skills, professional attitudes, and experience required to understand what is involved in successful academic laboratory or clinically-based research. It encourages medical students to seriously consider pursuing a research career in the areas of research important to NIDDK and the UW Department of Surgery by offering focused 8-12 week summer research experiences in basic science and clinical research programs, which result in a completed research project and formal research presentations. The program utilizes the extensive resources of the UW Department of Surgery and the UW School of Medicine and Public Health to offer a comprehensive training experience that includes supplemental didactic conferences on topics including design and conduct of research, effective communication of scientific knowledge, scientific writing, funding opportunities, career development, and responsible conduct of research. By partnering medical students with successful physician scientists who will serve as research role models, we aim to increase the future pool of physician scientists. The training program includes assessments to evaluate the quality of specific program elements as well as short-term and long-term success in encouraging students to pursue careers in research and academic surgery.
A decline in the number of physician scientists will impact our Nation's capacity to translate research from bench to bedside. Mentors and early research training experiences are understood to influence career choices and likelihood of pursuing medical careers in research. The University of Wisconsin Surgery Summer Research Experience for Medical Students provides mentored summer research opportunities as a mechanism to encourage medical students to pursue careers that integrate research with clinical care.
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