Clinical Distinction

Your future, by you

Research Woe’s

“Research,” as a word, is used pretty loosely, and students have said to me, in various ways that this is an area of their CV they need to have more presence. So doing Research for CD is something many students gravitate towards.

As it turns out, this can take many forms, and it’s confusing – even to me.

Forever, before CD existed, research was an option for the selective time third year students have. It generally took one of two forms:

  1. During the four week period of time, students would join an existing research project, either in a lab or clinic, with a principal investigator, and help out.
  2. For their four week experience, a student would come up with a great research idea and find a friendly faculty on campus to approve it.

By far the first form of research, joining a lab or clinic, was the more common form. In both cases students were required to submit an essay of sorts, a chunk of information about the project designed to ensure that if needed there was an IRB and that if self-designed it was a viable project. The CED has called this the “research rotation packet or application.”

Along comes Clinical Distinction, an instantly award winning course which gives third year students 8 additional weeks to buff up their research portfolio. And with it comes the confusion.

Glenn Davis said to me, just this week,  “If we make Clinical Distinction less complicated, we make it more restrictive.” And that’s exactly right, but how can we make it more clear?

The first thing I’ve done to make it more clear is to design an online rotation request form…. in order to request that your CD be research, a student is asked to answer questions that guide them through the process – they don’t have to know what the process is. We have yet to have a real student go through this specific process…

The second thing, and I admit, it’s not done yet, is to create an online form for the contract of learning, this too will guide students through the process, which they’d be more successful at by reading the website and meeting with their advisor, but for those rare students who complete forms without reading instructions first, they’ll likely make it through. This will make not only CD research more straightforward, but all specialty tracks….

And yet, I’m still trying to figure out how to make the research options more clear Here’s the rub – research can be done in all these ways:

  1. as the selective in third year
  2. as a clerkship style track CD
  3. as a specialty track CD

What’s so complicated about that?

Well, each of them can be done in either of the 2 forms listed above. ( now we are up to six) and #3 can be longitudinal basic or progressive, ( now we are up to 8) and if the student is actually collecting data, interviewing patients, reading patient charts that’s very different than the student who is just designing a research protocol, reading literature etc. Which turns our 8 options into 16.

Seriously – there are 16 ways to do the research option in third year – and that doesn’t even begin to address the amazing topics and ideas students have developed.

So if you are a student reading this, I get it, it’s confusing, we are here to help. I know you have questions, bring them on. And if you are a faculty reading this, you’ll probably see that all the confusion is just a well meaning attempt to create a better experience for students.

If you are some kind of brilliant communicator reading this, and have an idea for how to clear out the confusion…. I’m waiting for you.