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We sought to 1) identify best practices for training and mentoring clinician researchers, 2) characterize facilitators and barriers for Canadian emergency medicine researchers, and 3) develop pragmatic recommendations to improve and standardize emergency medicine postgraduate research training programs to build research capacity.
We performed a systematic review of MEDLINE and Embase using search terms relevant to emergency medicine research fellowship/graduate training. We conducted an email survey of all Canadian emergency physician researchers. The Society for Academic Emergency Medicine (SAEM) research fellowship program was analysed, and other similar international programs were sought. An expert panel reviewed these data and presented recommendations at the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians (CAEP) 2014 Academic Symposium. We refined our recommendations based on feedback received.
Of 1,246 potentially relevant citations, we included 10 articles. We identified five key themes: 1) creating training opportunities; 2) ensuring adequate protected time; 3) salary support; 4) infrastructure; and 5) mentorship. Our survey achieved a 72% (67/93) response rate. From these responses, 42 (63%) consider themselves clinical researchers (i.e., spend a significant proportion of their career conducting research). The single largest constraint to conducting research was funding. Factors felt to be positive contributors to a clinical research career included salary support, research training (including an advanced graduate degree), mentorship, and infrastructure. The SAEM research fellowship was the only emergency medicine research fellowship program identified. This 2-year program requires approval of both the teaching centre and each applying fellow. This program requires training in 15 core competencies, manuscript preparation, and submission of a large grant to a national peer-review funding organization.
We recommend that the CAEP Academic Section create a process to endorse research fellowship/graduate training programs. These programs should include two phases: Phase I: Research fellowship/graduate training would include an advanced research university degree and 15 core learning areas. Phase II: research consolidation involves a further 1-3 years with an emphasis on mentorship and scholarship production. It is anticipated that clinician scientists completing Phase I and Phase II training at a CAEP Academic Section-endorsed site(s) will be independent researchers with a higher likelihood of securing external peer-reviewed funding and be able to have a meaningful external impact in emergency medicine research.
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