Medical Student Research Program

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Medical Student Research Program

Several challenges in medical training are currently leading to a decrease in scientific literacy in physician trainees and major problems in the development of clinical scientists who perform basic, clinical, and behavioral research. Some of this is due to the loss of role models and mentors for research, which has led to a decline nationally in the numbers of physician-scientists and an increasing estrangement of medical students from research. Major organizations such as the Institute of Medicine, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Burroughs-Wellcome Fund, and the major medical subspecialty societies are attempting to address this growing problem through advocacy and support of research at all levels of medical training.

UMMC has an opportunity to assist in the reversal of these trends in academic medicine by promoting interest in research and academia. There is a need to develop mechanisms to better interface basic science PhDs with MDs during medical school as well as in postgraduate/residency programs to stimulate an appreciation of basic science and critical research skills. With the recent emphasis by the NIH on translational research, clinician scientists will play an increasingly important role in the overall academic mission of the institution. The Medical Student Research Program is designed to develop the future generation of academicians, who will make up the UMMC faculty.

Purpose

The MSRP fosters the development of medical students into physician scientists who, in addition to patient care, will pursue clinical, population or basic research. The research experience offered by the MSRP exposes students to the broad variety of medical research ongoing at UMMC, helping stimulate and promote students to consider careers in academic medicine.

Overview

The MSRP initiates with an education seminar given to first-year medical students which explains the concept of the MSRP and promotes the benefits of research in the practice of medicine. Interested students may apply to the summer portion of the MSRP ("Summer of Research"). After a competitive application process, selected students participate in a 10-week summer research experience under the direction of a faculty research mentor at the end of their first year of medical school (M1). Students are provided a $4,000 stipend.

Subsequently, interested students (typically >75% of "Summer of Research" participants) apply to the "Full-Option" MSRP program which allows them to continue research throughout their medical education (M2-M4). Students are provided a $5,000 grant to help cover research supplies, books, other material essential for training, and travel costs. Participation in the MSRP culminates in students presenting their original research at a national meeting and/or publishing their research in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. This important accomplishment is noted on the student's medical degree with the annotation "Medical Student Research Scholar."

Benefits of the MSRP

A major asset to the MSRP is its ability to build on the success of UMMC to attract students educated at the Medical Center to return and practice medicine in Mississippi. As of 2014, UMMC has trained 3,525 physicians and of those, 1,938 have returned to practice in Mississippi. This equates to 55% of graduates returning to the state, placing UMMC within the top 5% of medical schools retaining graduates. Thus, by educating and instilling in our medical students the benefits of being a physician scientist through the MSRP, we will succeed in increasing the number of practicing physician scientists in Mississippi.

Governance

The chair and associate chair are appointed by the Vice Chancellor of Research. The MSRP committee is comprised of a group of UMMC clinical, basic and population science faculty researchers who oversee governance of the MSRP. The MSRP committee meets at least quarterly to review the program, applications, make improvements, etc. The Office of Research provides administrative support to the MSRP committee.

Mentors

UMMC faculty (assistant, associate or full professors) who conduct hypothesis-driven clinical, translational, basic or population research; who can provide written objectives for a research project that is suitable to a MSRP student; and who can provide an appropriate environment and mentorship program may serve as a MSRP student mentor.

In addition to providing an excellent research mentoring experience and written research plan for the MSRP student, mentors are required to: 1) meet monthly with their students; 2) fill out an annual performance review survey of their student; 3) attend at least 1 MSRP event (lecture, informal mixer, committee meeting or MSRP Research Day) each year; and 4) assist the student in preparing a poster or oral presentation for the MSRP annual Research Day.

Mentors should meet a minimum of 10 times per year with the student and document the dates of these meetings. The MSRP annual survey will include an evaluation of the student by the mentor. In addition, a one-page summary (annual report) will be required. This report should detail student accomplishments during the past year, including any presentations at local, regional or national conferences, publications and/or any other accomplishments or awards received by the student. The presentation at the MSRP Research Day should be similar to any national poster (M2 or M3) or oral (M4) presentation and will be judged and scored.performance review at the end of the MSRP Summer of Research will include both a review of the mentor and of the MSRP (program and experience). The required oral presentations at the end of summer typically lasts 5 minutes with 2 additional minutes for questions and will be held during the last week of the program over a period of two to three days.

MSRP student and research support funding

M1 students participating in the MSRP Summer of Research will be supported with a $4,000 student stipend. In order to receive the stipend, students must work 8.5 hours per day for at least 9 weeks. It is permissible for a student to take a vacation during the summer rotation if approved by the mentor.

Students in the Full MSRP Option will receive a one-time $1,000 travel allowance in order to attend a national meeting. Travel requests must be submitted at least two weeks BEFORE the date of travel and include a note from the mentor indicting their awareness and approval of the trip. After the trip, student is to provide the Office of Research will all receipts in order to receive reimbursement.

Students in the Full MSRP Option will receive $4,000 total for all 3 years for supplies and reference materials that are directly related to their research activities that have been approved by their mentor, and that have been included in their MSRP budget and approved by the MSRP committee. It is permissible to spend a larger proportion of these funds in the earlier years if needed and included in the MSRP budget. These funds can be utilized to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, specialized research equipment or software, or used to pay for additional travel expenses to one or more national conferences, if this information is included on the MSRP budget. All computer/software purchases need to be ordered through established purchasing procedures at UMMC and be subject to approval by DIS. Software will be held and installed by DIS. If the student and mentor plan to use MSRP funds for something that is not on the original MSRP budget, they may submit an updated budget with the requested changes for approval by the MSRP committee.

All expenditure requests must be submitted to the Office of Research for processing prior to purchase/travel. Requests for expenditures at the end of a student's term in the program (~2-3 months from the anticipated completion/graduation date) will generally be disallowed. In extenuating situations a request from the student's mentor justifying the late expense may be submitted to the Office of Research. The MSRP Chair will review the request and determine if it is allowable.

For more information

Please contact the Office of Sponsored Programs at (601) 815-5000 or at nladd@umc.edu if you have questions or need assistance.