This October 2002 Academic Medicine supplement continues the tradition begun in 1990 of showcasing the medical education studies presented at the annual Research in Medical Education (RIME) Conference. This conference offers a forum for presenting and discussing research covering all aspects of medical education with the hope of identifying best practices in medical education, enhancing the preparation of physicians, and ultimately improving the nation's health, the theme of the AAMC's meeting this year.
The electronic process of submission and review of contributions to the 2002 RIME Conference resulted in these outcomes: Seventy-nine research papers were received, a slight decrease from previous years, but with a slightly increased acceptance rate of 39%. Submission of research abstracts rose to a high of 237, and 47% of them will be presented, primarily during poster sessions. The acceptance rate for abstracts was comparable to that of previous years. Of two review papers submitted, one was accepted. Regrettably, there were no symposia submitted this year. A research symposium can be a rich venue for exploring a research theme from various perspectives even though developing such a presentation requires considerable effort. Because the benefit may potentially outweigh the cost, submission of symposia to next year's RIME conference will be encouraged.
Themes in the research work accepted for the conference and published herein reflect research foci of long standing—evaluating instructional formats, assessing learners across the continuum of medical education, and evaluating assessment methods, for example. But, these research topics have been given a thoroughly modern twist, embracing contemporary concerns and developments. Thus, for example, analyses of instructional formats examine the use of virtual reality and Web-based learning materials. Studies that evaluate assessment methods include the examination of a scale to measure the empathy of practicing physicians as part of the thrust toward assessing professional behavior. Additionally, there are notably novel studies. One paper, for example, partakes of the societal trend toward the graying of America and considers the cognition of aging physicians. Another recognizes documentation issues and explores student chart notes in relation to Medicare policies. A third work, on the tensions afoot in the ICU team, demonstrates that research approaches allied to more traditional research in medical education paradigms can expand our understanding of the context in which medical education occurs.
The RIME Conference planning committee wishes to thank the authors who submitted their work. Indeed, they are the reason for the existence of the RIME Conference. The committee also gratefully recognizes the role of the external reviewers in the process of selecting papers for the conference. The time they spent, their talents, and their thoughts eased the difficulty and complexity of the selection task. The committee trusts that the review process has improved the research work selected for the conference and for publication in this supplement. It also hopes that the review process will enable authors whose work was not accepted for this conference to achieve a sounder research product, and it encourages resubmission next year.
Further, the RIME committee deeply appreciates the wisdom, expertise, and diligence that M. Brownell Anderson, Senior Associate Vice President, Division of Medical Education of the AAMC, brings to the conference. Her assistance and that of her staff lightened the task of the committee. Clearly, without her input, the RIME conference would not achieve the success that it has.
The RIME committee also expresses its gratitude to the editorial board of Academic Medicine for continuing to publish the supplement. It remains a treasure trove of research in medical education that researchers look forward to receiving each year. The committee acknowledges, as well, the expertise of the editorial board, and thanks the board for its efforts in publishing this issue.
The RIME Conference of 2002 will not only include the research work mentioned above. As usual there will be a RIME invited address. This year it will feature David Dunning, PhD, from Cornell University. He will discuss his work on the psychometric characteristics of observation, a ubiquitous method of assessment used throughout the continuum of medical education. Dr. Dunning will emphasize his research on self-assessment that also bears on the current interest in professionalism.
It has been a distinct privilege to be a member of the RIME committee and to serve as chair this year. It has been especially exciting to gain a sense of the research that is currently being pursued. My wish for each of you—authors and readers alike—is that the conference and the research papers herein will stimulate you to undertake further studies in this field and to work toward the vision of contributing to better patient outcomes and population health through research in medical education.