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Implementation of a Longitudinal Mentored Scholarly Project: An Approach at Two Medical Schools

Boninger, Michael MD; Troen, Philip MD; Green, Emily MA; Borkan, Jeffrey MD, PhD; Lance-Jones, Cynthia PhD; Humphrey, Allen PhD; Gruppuso, Philip MD; Kant, Peter MA; McGee, James MD; Willochell, Michael; Schor, Nina MD, PhD; Kanter, Steven L. MD; Levine, Arthur S. MD

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e3181ccc96f
Scholarly Concentrations

An increasing number of medical schools have implemented or are considering implementing scholarly activity programs as part of their undergraduate medical curricula. The goal of these programs is to foster students' analytical skills, enhance their self-directed learning and their oral and written communication skills, and ultimately to train better physicians. In this article, the authors describe the approach to implementing scholarly activities at a school that requires this activity and at a school where it is elective. Both programs have dealt with significant challenges including orienting students to a complex activity that is fundamentally different than traditional medical school courses and clerkships, helping both students and their mentors understand how to “stay on track” and complete work, especially during the third and fourth years, and educating students and mentors about the responsible conduct of research, especially involving human participants. Both schools have found the implementation process to be evolutionary, requiring experience before faculty could significantly improve processes. A required scholarly activity has highlighted the need for information technology (IT) support, including Web-based document storage and student updates, as well as automatic e-mails alerting supervisory individuals to student activity. Directors of the elective program have found difficulty with both ensuring uniform outcomes across different areas of study and leadership changes in a process that has been largely student-driven. Both programs have found that teamwork, regular meetings, and close communication have helped with implementation. Schools considering the establishment of a scholarly activity should consider these factors when designing programs.

Dr. Boninger is professor and chair, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and associate dean, Medical Student Research, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Dr. Troen is professor of medicine and assistant dean, Medical Student Research, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Ms. Green is assistant director, Medical Student Affairs, and manager, Scholarly Concentrations Program, Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island.

Dr. Borkan is professor and chair, Family Medicine, chair, Scholarly Concentration Committee, and chair, Curriculum Committee, Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island.

Dr. Lance-Jones is associate professor, Neurobiology, and assistant dean, Medical Student Research, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Dr. Humphrey is associate professor, Neurobiology, and assistant dean, Medical Student Research, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Dr. Gruppuso is professor of pediatrics, professor of molecular biology, cell biology and biochemistry (research), and associate dean, Medical Education, Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island.

Mr. Kant is production director and instructional designer, Laboratory for Education Technology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.;

Dr. McGee is associate professor of medicine, assistant dean for medical education technology, and director, Laboratory for Educational Technology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Mr. Willochell is senior systems analyst and project manager, Office of the Senior Vice Chancellor, Health Sciences Information Technology Department, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Dr. Schor is William H. Ellinger Professor and chair, Department of Pediatrics, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, New York.

Dr. Kanter is vice dean, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Dr. Levine is senior vice chancellor, Health Sciences, and dean, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Please see the end of this article for information about the authors.

Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Boninger, University of Pittsburgh, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 201 Kaufmann Building, 3471 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213; telephone: (412) 648-6979; fax: (412) 692-4410; e-mail: boninger@pitt.edu.

© 2010 Association of American Medical Colleges