The Scholarship and Research (SCHOLaR) program is designed to provide medical students with fundamental understanding of the research process and mentored scholarly training. The goal is to help develop (enhance) an understanding of scientific clinical methods in medicine, evaluate existing medical literature, encourage creativity, and support their dedication to advancing science and improving patient care.
SCHOLaR connects and provides longitudinal mentorship that enables students to carry out rigorous scholarly project(s). The primary learning objective is to learn how to ask a research question, obtain and analyze data with the purpose of answering that question. Although not required, nearly 90% of students participate in a research experience during the summer between first and second year. This is the longest available block of time during medical school. Students who work on a summer project with ISMMS faculty are eligible to receive a stipend to cover their living costs. All funded students present their work at the Karen Zier Medical Student Research Day which takes place in March each year and fulfills the scholarly product requirement. The SCHOLaR milestones help students stay on track towards fulfilling the scholarly product requirement.
SCHOLaR consists of:
- Classroom, multimedia materials, and small group discussions on study design, statistics, and evaluation of a research manuscript,
- Guided navigation from finding a mentor to developing and conducting a study, and
- Presentation of research findings.
The coursework in years 1 & 2 focuses on the principles underlying rigorous research epidemiology, biostatistics, and ethics. The final didactic block will focus on Evidence-Based Medicine, providing a bridge from the pre-clinical coursework to clerkships by focusing on the application of research to patient care.
Oversight of scholarly progress is provided by the faculty advisor, and mentors. Students are also assigned a track advisor who will help navigate the process and milestones; offer feedback on their study; and follow their progress.
The scholarly product that fulfills the graduation requirement will be based on research begun and carried out after entering medical school. Most projects will involve proposing a specific hypothesis or asking a question, obtaining and analyzing data, and synthesizing the results to demonstrate how the results help answer the research question. However, this model may not pertain to projects in the Medical Humanities, Global Health, or Quantitative Biomedicine tracks, Community Health, Anti-racism, and Innovations in Health care. Students working in one of these tracks consult the Track Advisor for additional guidance. For summer projects with an external mentor, students should share these guidelines so that the mentor is aware of the expectations and timelines.
MSRO strongly urges students to join an existing project and work with the mentor to carve out a focused question for which the student can take ownership and produce a mentored first author abstract for Medical Student Research Day. Eight weeks, the period of the summer research program, is not a long time and is far too short to start an entirely new project. Joining an existing project will allow students to avoid start-up delays. Because of past problems obtaining timely approvals from the IRB for human subjects research or from IACUC for animal research, students will not be eligible to receive a summer stipend from the Medical Student Research Office (MSRO) to work on a research study that does not already have these approvals in place by the March deadline. Students in the Global Health program should consult their track advisor for modified deadlines. Students working with external mentors are not eligible for a summer stipend from the MSRO, but are encouraged to follow this timeline in order to avoid delays.
The Scholarly product is evaluated on:
- Overall clarity
- Rationale for the study, clear goals
- Demonstration that the objectives of the project relate to the problem
- Well explained methodology
- Results that address the study question or problem statement
- Acknowledgement of study limitations
- Conclusion, including the significance of the findings and implications.
When to Carry Out the Scholarly Project
As part of the graduation requirements, students must present their scholarly work at Medical Student Research Day as a poster or an oral talk. Final abstracts are due in early January and Research Day is held in March. Exact dates can be found in the class Milestones Map.
Most students begin their required scholarly project during the summer between Year 1 and Year 2 and present their work in Year 2. To support students who do not fulfill their graduation requirement during Year 2, students must schedule an appointment with the MSRO Director as early as possible to discuss an alternative plan and timeline.