Advancing the Science

Mayo Clinic Medical Science Blog – an eclectic collection of research- and research education-related stories: feature stories, mini news bites, learning opportunities, profiles and more from Mayo Clinic.

February 26, 2020

Training that increases research knowledge and confidence also boosts academic productivity

By Caitlin Doran
Pharmacy residency class photo
Mayo Clinic Midwest pharmacy residents, 2019-2020

Engaging in research can be challenging and intimidating for those who have never done it before. Mayo Clinic’s pharmacy residency program ensures all its trainees are set up for success by offering research and scholarship education as a standard part of their curriculum.  A recent paper published in Currents in Pharmacy Teaching and Learning demonstrates the impact of this training program, showing significant improvements in residents’ knowledge and confidence toward research and biostatistics as well as higher levels of academic productivity at one year after graduation.

Leveling the playing field

Jason Barreto poses for a photo wearing a suit
Jason Barreto, Pharm.D.

“Residents come to Mayo Clinic with varying degrees of formal training in research,” observes Jason Barreto, Pharm.D., lead author. “The pharmacy department’s structured research education is intended to bridge existing gaps in training.  We want to provide knowledge about research methods and promote involvement with meaningful, impactful, scientific investigation.  Completion of this curriculum enables residents to critically interpret the medical literature and to pursue research opportunities both during and after their residency with confidence.”

The training program includes:

  • Essentials of Clinical and Translational Science online modules providing an overview of research terminology, epidemiology, and biomedical statistics.
  • A two-day, interactive workshop delivered by pharmacy department researchers.
  • Completion of a pharmacist-mentored research project involving a multidisciplinary investigative team.

The study found that, before training began, although baseline knowledge of biostatistics and clinical research skills was relatively high based on a knowledge assessment, only 27% of residents reported feeling at least somewhat confident their knowledge and skills, and only 19% reported a positive attitude toward their understanding of statistical terminology.

After training was complete, knowledge assessment scores improved and reported feelings of confidence and positive attitude skyrocketed. 91% of participants reported feeling at least somewhat confident in their knowledge and skills, and 82% reported a positive attitude toward their comprehension of statistical terminology. One year after graduation, 53% of participants had successfully published at least one peer-reviewed manuscript (the general publication rate is 4-20%).

Garrett Schramm, R.Ph.
Garrett Schramm, R.Ph.

Garrett Schramm, R.Ph., director of Pharmacy Education and Academic Affairs at Mayo Clinic, is a firm believer in his department’s research training program.  “Our research curriculum began in 2007 when three pharmacists came together with a goal to formally incorporate research into our training programs. The success of the curriculum, coupled with Mayo Clinic’s longstanding collaborative relationships between pharmacists, providers, and biostatisticians, has resulted in a resident research publication rate of 53% at the end of the first year and 75% overall,” he says. “The pharmacy department hires approximately half of its residents, and all of those individuals are equipped to go on to become productive research team members or independent researchers. It’s an investment in the future,” he says. “Get these people trained and they could be making research a part of their daily activity for the next 30 years.”

What’s next?

In subsequent studies, Dr. Barreto wants to dig deeper to find out which aspects of the research training program have the greatest impact on knowledge and confidence. He also wants to study the impact of the training program over a longer period of time with a larger sample group.

One last point of intrigue for a future endeavor: study participants reported an increase in knowledge immediately after an intense, structured curriculum; however, whether that knowledge is retained or improved after several years into clinical practice remains unclear and requires investigation.

Ultimately, he says the biggest takeaway from this study is the ability to increase research and statistical knowledge as well as the high levels of scholarly productivity.

 “Vince Lombardi [former coach of the Green Bay Packers], used to say ‘confidence is contagious,’” says Dr. Barreto. “I like to think our program is helping more residents to couple an increased level of confidence with the knowledge to properly conduct research. The more people we have on the research journey the better, because that leads to more medical advances that can help more and more patients.”

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Tags: Education, Garrett Schramm, Jason Barreto, Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences, research education, residency program

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