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Research Training & Mentorship

Overview

The primary goal of our fellowship program is to train the future thought leaders of academic pulmonary and critical care medicine. Rigorous training and in-depth experience in research are central features of the program for all accepted applicants.  We recognize that many fellows enter fellowship with limited research experience. Thus, we have established a system to assist each fellow in finding the overall career track, subject area, and career mentor best suited for them. 

Our program seeks to prepare trainees for an academic career as either a physician-scientist or a clinician-educator. Success in each of these career pathways requires rigorous training, along with experience in scientific writing and presentation. All fellows will complete a scholarly project and present their work regularly at Research Work-in-Progress sessions during the second and third years where they can receive important feedback on both their research and presentation strategies. It is anticipated that graduating fellows will have at least one first author manuscript submitted for publication.

Physician Scientist

Dr. Rockey and fellowFellows who are interested in pursuing a career in clinical, translational, or basic research in an academic setting will have their training tailored to optimize this pursuit. Fellows have the opportunity to have up to 18 months of research in their second and third years and can be supported for an additional fourth research year with the division’s T32 training grant. Research time is blocked together to provide a meaningful experience and optimize training and productivity. Research projects and training will be performed under the direction of an established faculty mentor and with additional guidance from a mentoring committee. At the completion of training, fellows will be prepared to apply for initial research grant funding. 

T32 training grant. The division maintains the Pulmonary Focused Foundations in Innovation and Scholarship T32 grant which provides support for fellows seeking to pursue a career as a physician scientist.  Fellows interested in either clinical/translational research or basic investigation can be supported for up to two years on the T32. In addition to funding both core and selective training opportunities in research, the grant provides unique foundational training in innovation and entrepreneurship through a partnership with MUSC’s Foundation for Research Development and Chief Innovation Officer. This partnership leverages both institutional technology incubator resources and alliances with regional partners such as the South Carolina Research Authority (SCRA) and the South Carolina Biotechnology Industry Organization (SCBIO).

Master of Science in Clinical Research. Fellows interested in clinical research will also have the ability to pursue a Master of Science in Clinical Research (MSCR) degree during their third and fourth (T32 supported) years. The MSCR is a part-time, two-year program with a curriculum focused on the core components of clinical research including epidemiology, biostatistics, study design, data analysis, scientific team leadership, and grant preparation. The final “thesis” consists of a research grant that graduates will submit at the completion of the program.

Master of Science in Public Health. Fellows may also pursue a Master of Science in Public Health (MPH) degree during their third and fourth years.  The MPH provides didactic training in prevention and community-based research with the ability to concentrate on one of three areas: 1) Biostatistics, 2) Epidemiology, and 3) Health Behavior & Health Promotion. 

South Carolina Clinical and Translational Research Institute.MUSC’s CTSA-funded South Carolina Clinical and Translational Research Institute (SCTR) provides a wide breadth of research resources including statistical support, REDCap database design, biosample processing as well as funding opportunities such as pilot awards and career development grants (e.g. KL2, K12).

Clinician Educator

Dr. Nick Fox poster presentationFellows who are interested in pursuing an academic career with a focus on scholarship and education will similarly have their training experience tailored to this pursuit. Fellows pursuing educational training will gain experience in topics such as curriculum design, effective teaching methods, scholarly writing and quality improvement. They will also capitalize on a wide range of teaching opportunities across the campus in order to build a robust teaching portfolio. An opportunity to participate in a formal clinical education certificate program will be offered to all fellows interested in a career as an academic clinician educator through the MUSC Graduate Medical Education office.

The Clinicians as Educators (C.a.E) program. This program, offered through the MUSC Graduate Medical Education office, is an instructional course focused on developing educational skills for fellows in training through a curriculum designed to cover best practices for teaching didactic, bedside, small group, simulation and procedural skills. Fellows will participate in a 10-lecture program spanning two semesters during their second year of training while developing an education-based research project. Upon completion, fellows will be awarded with formal Certification as a Clinician Educator.

The MUSC Simulation Center. The MUSC Simulation Center is a world-class facility with collaborative staff who can assist in the development of innovative simulation-based educational curricula.  Fellows interested in teaching in existing or developing novel simulation-based educational programs can partner with the Sim Center. Through partnership with the MUSC Foundation of Research Development, many simulations developed in the MUSC Simulation Center have been licensed for use by institutions around the world via SimTunes. 

Career Development and Mentorship

Choosing the right mentor is a critical step for a successful fellowship experience. Early in the first year, each fellow will meet with the Division Chief and Fellowship leadership to review the available research areas and resources, arrange meetings with potential mentors, and work together to help the fellow make an informed choice. By the end of the first year of fellowship, all fellows should have identified one primary mentor, obtained approval from leadership and verified expectations of both the mentor and mentee. The mentor will be primarily responsible for helping develop and implement an individual career develop plan and must be able to provide adequate resources including time, space, supplies, expertise and effort.

Mentor Expectations

  • Meet with fellow mentees on a regular basis. Every other week is recommended; not to be less than once per month
  • Provide lab or office space, computer, additional travel funds, access to a technician, research coordinator, statistical or database support if applicable
  • Helps fellows determine their short- and long-term goals and set a timetable for accomplishing these goals, including abstract, manuscript and grant submissions
  • Assist in the identification of interesting and feasible research questions; identify other resources and potential collaborators that may be useful to fellows’ projects
  • Help the fellow choose a mechanism for obtaining research training and offer advice in course work choices and navigation within the University
  • Establish a plan to learn basic principles of scientific conduct, communication of findings, and receipt of constructive feedback
  • Establish a plan for each fellow’s career development in professionalism and mentorship and leadership skills
  • Ensure Mentoring Committee meetings take place once every six months
  • Help fellows understand the requirements for transition to a faculty position at MUSC or elsewhere if appropriate

Mentoring Committee

At the beginning of the second year, fellows will form a Mentoring Committee.  Under the direction of the primary mentor, the Mentoring Committee oversees the trainee’s professional development, provides career counseling, and facilitates academic job placement in the latter stages of training. 

The committee will be composed of three to five members. Once trainees select their primary mentor, they will identify additional members of their committees based on content area or methodology expertise.  Faculty from outside of the division are encouraged to participate in Mentoring Committees, particularly if the scholarly project involves external collaboration. Members of the fellowship leadership will participate in all mentoring committees in order to ensure that fellows are receiving necessary support and accomplishing proposed milestones. 

Fellows are required to meet with their committee once every six months. They should arrange their first committee meeting within the first two months of their second year. Assistance with scheduling committee meetings will be provided by the Fellowship Coordinator. 

Expectations of the Mentoring Committee

  • Meet once every six months. Review and update the Individual Career Development Plan at each Mentor Committee meeting
  • The mentor provides a written summary of each meeting, including action items, and circulates these minutes to all committee members and the fellow for comment and approval. A final copy will then be provided to the fellowship coordinator.
  • Help fellows determine their short- and long-term goals and set a timetable for accomplishing these goals, including abstract, manuscript and grant submissions
  • Assist in the identification of interesting and feasible research questions; identify other resources and potential collaborators that may be useful to fellows’ projects
  • Review mentee’s CV to refine it for presentation
  • Facilitate the fellow’s career advancement
  • Review the requirements for transition to a faculty position, if desired, and assist with the process of searching for a position. 
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