The global need to develop clinician–scientists capable of using research in clinical practice, translating research knowledge into practice, and carrying out research that affects the quality, efficacy, and efficiency of health care is well documented. The complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) professions embrace the call to develop physician–researchers to carry out translational and applied research for CAM modalities. CAM universities face unique challenges when implementing research training compared with traditional, research-intensive (TRI) universities and medical centers where the majority of medical research is carried out.
The authors present the development and outcomes of a mentored research program (MRP) between a CAM and a TRI institution, the National University of Health Sciences and the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health, between 2006 and 2012. CAM predoctoral students engaged in a full-immersion semester at the TRI, including didactic courses and active research with a TRI faculty research mentor. Half of the participating doctor of chiropractic (DC) students continued on to PhD programs, and half established integrative medicine, primary care clinical careers.
Establishing rigorous criteria for mentors and mentees, communicating expectations, developing solid relationships between the mentor, mentee, and home school advisor, responding quickly to impediments, and providing adequate support from CAM and TRI investigators were key to the MRP's success. To sustain research opportunities, coordinated degree programs for the DC and master of public health and master of clinical and translational research were established.