Methodology and Outcomes of a Family Medicine Research Fellowship

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There has not been a strong tradition of training researchers to provide the great amount of new evidence needed for the practice of family medicine. Few models for creating successful family medicine researchers have been presented in the literature. The authors report on the methodology and outcomes of a faculty development research fellowship in the University of Pennsylvania's Department of Family Medicine and Community Health. The fellowship focuses on the two domains—intensive research training and academic career development—and frames them with coursework in a content-appropriate master's degree program and clinical practice in an underserved community. Fifteen fellows have completed the program, which began in 1997. Most fellows' research work has been related to primary care and health disparities. Program completers have been the principal investigators on 39 funded studies and coinvestigators on 24 funded studies. They have, at the time this article was written, described their work in 236 publications, 114 of them peer reviewed. All but one program completer hold academic faculty positions, and 12 practice in underserved areas. In a research-intense institution, the fellowship program successfully trained family physicians to be independent clinical researchers and leaders who have substantially contributed to the national effort to mitigate health disparities through practice and research. The authors suggest that the outcomes strongly support the development of similar training opportunities in family medicine departments in other resource- and research-rich institutions.



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