Several challenges in medical training are currently leading to a decrease in scientific literacy in physician trainees and major problems in the development of clinical scientists who perform basic, clinical, and behavioral research. Some of this is due to the loss of role models and mentors for research, which has led to a decline nationally in the numbers of physician-scientists and an increasing estrangement of medical students from research. Major organizations such as the Institute of Medicine, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Burroughs-Wellcome Fund, and the major medical subspecialty societies are attempting to address this growing problem through advocacy and support of research at all levels of medical training.
UMMC has an opportunity to assist in the reversal of these trends in academic medicine by promoting interest in research and academia. There is a need to develop mechanisms to better interface basic science PhDs with MDs during medical school as well as in postgraduate/residency programs to stimulate an appreciation of basic science and critical research skills. With the recent emphasis by the NIH on translational research, clinician scientists will play an increasingly important role in the overall academic mission of the institution. The MSRP is designed to develop the future generation of academicians, who will make up the UMMC faculty.
The purpose of the Medical Scholars Research Program (MSRP) is to foster the development of medical students into physician scientists who, in addition to patient care, will pursue clinical, population or basic research. The research experience offered by the MSRP exposes students to the broad variety of medical research ongoing at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC), helping stimulate and promote students to consider careers in academic medicine.
The MSRP initiates with an education seminar given to first year medical students which explains the concept of the MSRP as well as promotes the benefits of research in the practice of medicine. Interested students may apply to the summer portion of the MSRP ("Summer of Research"). After a competitive application process, selected students participate in a 10-week summer research experience under the direction of a faculty research mentor at the end of their first year of medical school (M1). Students are provided a $4,000 stipend.
Subsequently, interested students (typically >75% of "Summer of Research" participants) apply to the "Full-Option" MSRP program which allows them to continue research throughout their medical education (M2-M4). Students are provided a $5,000 grant to help cover research supplies, books, other material essential for training, and travel costs. Participation in the MSRP culminates in students presenting their original research at a national meeting and/or publishing their research in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. This important accomplishment is noted on the student's medical degree with the annotation "Medical Student Research Scholar."
A major asset to the MSRP is its ability to build on the success of UMMC to attract students educated at the Medical Center to return and practice medicine in Mississippi. As of 2014, UMMC has trained 3,525 physicians and of those, 1,938 have returned to practice in Mississippi. This equates to 55% of graduates returning to the state, placing UMMC within the top 5% of medical schools retaining graduates. Thus, by educating and instilling in our medical students the benefits of being a physician scientist through the MSRP, we will succeed in increasing the number of practicing physician scientists in Mississippi.
The Chair and Associate Chair are appointed by the Vice Chancellor of Research. The MSRP committee is comprised of a group of UMMC clinical, basic and population science faculty researchers who oversee governance of the MSRP. The MSRP committee meets at least quarterly to review the program, applications, make improvements, etc. The Office of Research provides administrative support to the MSRP committee.
UMMC faculty (assistant, associate or full professors) who conduct hypothesis-driven clinical, translational, basic or population research; who can provide written objectives for a research project that is suitable to a MSRP student; and who can provide an appropriate environment and mentorship program may serve as a MSRP student mentor.
In addition to providing an excellent research mentoring experience and written research plan for the MSRP student, mentors are required to: 1) meet monthly with their students; 2) fill out an annual performance review survey of their student; 3) attend at least 1 MSRP event (lecture, informal mixer, committee meeting or MSRP Research Day) each year; and 4) assist the student in preparing a poster or oral presentation for the MSRP annual Research Day.
Mentors should meet a minimum of 10 times per year with the student and document the dates of these meetings. The MSRP annual survey will include an evaluation of the student by the mentor. In addition, a one-page summary (annual report) will be required. This report should detail student accomplishments during the past year, including any presentations at local, regional or national conferences, publications and/or any other accomplishments or awards received by the student. The presentation at the MSRP Research Day should be similar to any national poster (M2 or M3) or oral (M4) presentation and will be judged and scored.
The MSRP Summer of Research experience is designed to introduce M1 medical students to the MSRP and provide them with a focused research experience under supervision of a UMMC mentor. The goal is to expose medical students to research, provide them with initial tools for development as a physician scientist, and guide the best student and mentor teams towards development of a competitive application for the Full MSRP Option.
M1 students will be notified about the MSRP Summer of Research experience in November. Interested students may apply to the MSRP Summer of Research, with the application due in February. After a competitive application process and at the end of the M1 year, selected students will participate in a 10-week summer research experience under the direction of a faculty research mentor. Students will be provided a modest stipend ($4,000). Students accepted into the MSRP Summer of Research are required to: 1) work 8.5 hours per day on their research; 2) attend 90% of the Summer MSRP Lecture Series; 3) complete a performance review survey at the end of the summer experience; and 4) give an oral presentation to the MSRP students and committee at the end of summer that summarizes their research experience. It is also expected that students will attend all lab meetings, dress appropriately for the department in which they do their research, and actively participate in all lab functions during their summer experience. Mentors are expected to meet regularly with students and provide sufficient oversight so that students can have the best research experience possible.
The Summer MSRP Lecture Series is held at noon each Friday for 10 weeks over the summer. The required performance review at the end of the MSRP Summer of Research will include both a review of the mentor and of the MSRP (program and experience). The required oral presentations at the end of summer typically lasts 5 minutes with 2 additional minutes for questions and will be held during the last week of the program over a period of two to three days.
In order to meet eligibility for the Full MSRP Option, students will need to complete the MSRP Summer of Research (or equivalent) and be in good academic standing with a GPA ≥3.0. No more than one application per mentor and one application per student will be permitted in each year. Therefore, a mentor may have no more than one student at each level and no more than total total MSRP students at the various levels. In addition, each MSRP student must have a unique research project and plan.
The full MSRP option will include research and/or academic study (literature review, manuscript or presentation preparation, etc.) to be completed throughout the M2, M3 and M4 years, with specific objectives detailed in each student's full MSRP application. While the MRSP committee and mentors acknowledge that students must place emphasis on coursework and USMLE preparation, the student will be required to make a firm commitment to the program and completing the objectives originally outlined in the proposal/application.
It is expected that progress on the project may be slow given the demands of the second year class schedule and preparation for the USMLE. However, the student and mentor should work together to plan experiments when feasible for the student. Additionally, the student should attend lab meetings and go to departmental seminars, in order to stay abreast of research developments.
The student is required to: 1) Meet with their mentor on a monthly basis and document these meeting dates in annual report to the MSRP Committee; 2) Complete the MSRP annual survey and progress report by June 15 of each year; and 3) participate in the MSRP Research Day by attending all sessions and presenting a poster of their research.
Students should meet a minimum of 10 times per year with their mentor and document the dates of these meetings. The MSRP annual survey will include an evaluation of the mentor by the student. Of note, the mentor is also required to submit an annual evaluation of the student. In addition, a one-page summary (annual report) will be required. This report should detail student accomplishments during the past year, including any presentations at local, regional or national conferences, publications and/or any other accomplishments or awards received by the student. The poster presentation at the MSRP day should be similar to any national poster presentation and will be judged and scored.
The student should balance participation in the MSRP with their clinical training. As with the M2 year, it is expected that the student and mentor will plan experiments when time permits. The student should continue attending lab meetings and seminars.
M3 students will be required to complete a two week research block. M4 students will be required to complete a one month research block. The purpose of the research blocks is to give the student the opportunity to make continued progress on their research plans and enhance the interaction with their mentor.
As in the M2 year, the student is required to: 1) Meet with their mentor on a monthly basis and document these meeting dates in annual report to the MSRP Committee; 2) complete the MSRP annual survey and progress report by June 15 of each year; and 3) participate in the MSRP Research Day by attending all sessions and presenting their research.
Students should meet a minimum of 10 times per year with their mentor and document the dates of these meetings. The MSRP annual survey will include an evaluation of the mentor by the student. Of note, the mentor is also required to submit an annual evaluation of the student. In addition, a one-page summary (annual report) will be required. This report should detail student accomplishments during the past year, including any presentations at local, regional or national conferences, publications and/or any other accomplishments or awards received by the student.
In addition to the yearly evaluations, students are required to take part in the MSRP Research Day. The M3 students are required to present a poster at the MSRP research day. The M4 students are required to present an oral presentation at the MSRP Research Day.
Students who do not show sufficient effort towards project completion, as determined by the MSRP committee, and after consultation with the mentor, will be dismissed from the program. A minimum GPA ≥3.0 is required to be maintained throughout the duration of MSRP program to be in good standing. If student GPA drops below 3.0, the student will enter a probationary period until the next semester, at which time the student will either be: 1) removed from probation by establishing GPA≥3.0; or 2) dismissed from the MSRP program.
To successfully complete the MSRP, the student will be required to present work as a poster, electronic or oral presentation at a national meeting. The student should also be a contributing author on a submitted manuscript as a result of their work conducted in the MSRP prior to completion of the program. Written documentation of the national presentation and manuscript submission is required prior to graduation from the program.
All MSRP students are required to attend the Medical Student's Honors Day that is typically held in May of the M4 year, prior to graduation. Students will be presented with a certificate indicating their successful completion of the "Medical Scholars Research Program". At graduation, the students will be presented with their medical doctorate diploma that will also signify their completion of the MSRP.
M1 students participating in the MSRP Summer of Research will be supported with a $4000 student stipend. In order to receive the stipend, students must work 8.5 hours per day for at least 9 weeks. It is permissible for a student to take a vacation during the summer rotation if approved by the mentor.
Students in the Full MSRP Option will receive a one-time $1,000 travel allowance in order to attend a national meeting. Travel requests must be submitted at least two weeks BEFORE the date of travel and include a note from the mentor indicting their awareness and approval of the trip. After the trip, student is to provide the Office of Research will all receipts in order to receive reimbursement.
Students in the Full MSRP Option will receive $4,000 total for all 3 years for supplies and reference materials that are directly related to their research activities that have been approved by their mentor, and that have been included in their MSRP budget and approved by the MSRP committee. It is permissible to spend a larger proportion of these funds in the earlier years if needed and included in the MSRP budget. These funds can be utilized to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, specialized research equipment or software, or used to pay for additional travel expenses to one or more national conferences, if this information is included on the MSRP budget. All computer/software purchases need to be ordered through established purchasing procedures at UMMC and be subject to approval by DIS. Software will be held and installed by DIS. If the student and mentor plan to use MSRP funds for something that is not on the original MSRP budget, they may submit an updated budget with the requested changes for approval by the MSRP committee.
All expenditure requests must be submitted to the Office of Research for processing prior to purchase/travel. Requests for expenditures at the end of a student's term in the program (~2-3 months from the anticipated completion/graduation date) will generally be disallowed. In extenuating situations a request from the student's mentor justifying the late expense may be submitted to the Office of Research. The MSRP Chair will review the request and determine if it is allowable.