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Lisa A Hark, Carrie Wright, Michael Waisbourd, David M. Weiss, Eileen L Mayro, Katherine Scully, Ann P Murchison, Julia A Haller, Edward Jaeger; A Vision Research Training and Mentoring Program: The Wills Eye Hospital Experience. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2015;56(7 ):142.
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Over the past 50 years, there has been a decline in the number of physicians pursuing careers in clinical research. In ophthalmology, the need for clinician investigators continues to grow with the increasing eye care demands of the aging population. Expert panels have recommended structured, didactic curricula with clinical research experience for students interested in ophthalmology early in their careers.
To address this need, the Wills Eye Hospital Department of Research and Glaucoma Research Center developed an 8-week Clinical Vision Research Training and Mentoring Program for four undergraduate and 13 medical students interested in ophthalmology. Students attend lectures on study design and methodology; actively participate in vision research projects; and write and submit a manuscript to a peer-reviewed journal. The majority of students participate in glaucoma research projects. This program provides students with an introduction to ophthalmology, experience in clinical research, and relevant skills for conducting vision research, specifically recruitment, assessment and data analysis.
Students in the 2014 program were required to complete a pre-test and post-test to assess knowledge of vision research methods and ophthalmology. The test contained 40 multiple-choice questions, at least 4 for each topic presented during the lecture series. Students scored statistically significantly higher on the post-test (M=80.1%, SD=5.74) than on the pre-test (M=74.4%, SD=6.72); t(17)=2.52, P=0.02. They also completed an anonymous survey of their satisfaction with the overall program, including the lecture series, manuscript-writing workshop series, pre- and post-tests, and mentor-trainer experience. Students strongly agreed that they were satisfied with the overall program, including supervision, and that the lecture series and manuscript-development workshops enhanced their learning.
The 2014 Wills Eye Clinical Vision Research Training and Mentoring Program provides an evidence-based foundation in critical thinking, research methods, and manuscript development for students interested in careers in ophthalmology. Students emerge with clinical research skills and an appreciation of vision research. The success of this pilot has led to the establishment of a permanent program and can serve as a research training model for ophthalmology and other medical specialties.
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