34 A National Survey of Research Associates Programs to Support Graduate Medical Education

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Annals of Emergency Medicine


Study Objectives: Residencies must engage in scholarly activity and publish research. Many US institutions have developed research associate programs (RAPs), where university students are trained to provide research support, and lower barriers to clinical research. Student associates gain clinical and research experience, enhancing their applications to professional schools. No previous survey has been conducted to describe these programs. The main objective was to enumerate the characteristics of research associate programs with a nationwide survey with a very high response rate. Methods: Research associate programs were identified through Medline, university course databases, and comprehensive online search. A survey was made available from 8/1/2014 to 6/1/2020 and administered to respective program leaders. Questions assessed included RAP longevity, leadership, funding, types of research, required hours per week, university affiliations, and selection process. The survey was performed online or by telephone interview. Results were analyzed using descriptive statistics. Results: A total of 48 RAPs were identified. 41 of the 48 RAPs responded (85.4%) with an average of 24 students, median of 20 and range of 5-58 students. Most RAPs were less than one year in length, but with many variations. Associates worked on local investigator-initiated projects (80.5%) and retrospective chart reviews (63.4%). 97.6% consented patients for research. Other activities included data abstraction, protocol development, abstract writing, manuscript preparation, and quality improvement. Most were based in the university setting in which students received college credit (56.1%). Most RAPs are based exclusively in Emergency Medicine (EM) (70.7%), but others were in the acute care surgery department (7.0%), critical care (2.4%), pediatrics (4.8%), and cardiology (2.4%). 68.3% of RAPs were led by a non-physician Research Coordinator while others were led by a physician director (63.4%) or a physician codirector (19.5%). RAPs were funded by a variety of sources including research grants (36.6%), physician groups (22%), hospital (29.3%), and the affiliate university (24.4%). Training typically included patient confidentiality (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), research ethics, and the process of informed consent. Almost all RAPs performed prospective research (85.4%). 95.6% of programs reported that they are seen as favorable or very favorable at their institution. Conclusion: In a nationwide survey with high response rate, student research associates programs are found to be a growing presence in EM residencies across the US. Often led or co-led by a physician director, students generally receive training to enroll patients into research. They are typically 10 months in duration. Most programs are seen favorably at their institution.





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