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D. H. Messer; Development of a Research Training Program Within the Southern Arizona VA Health Care System Optometry Section. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2008;49(13):630.
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The importance of clinician researchers is widely recognized, yet the percentage of doctors choosing a career in research has been decreasing. Studies have shown that exposure to research during training increases the likelihood that a clinician will choose to actively participate in research. Furthermore, training in research methodologies teaches skills important for evidence-based practice. The purpose of this project was to develop a research component to the educational training program within the SAVAHCS Optometry Section.
Strategic planning with optometrists at SAVAHCS was conducted to establish research development goals. A research program was implemented consisting of research seminars, journal clubs emphasizing critical appraisal of literature, and the formation of resident/staff research teams. An Optometric Research Resource Manual was compiled. An assessment consisting of a pre- and post- questionnaire on confidence in research knowledge and interest in conducting research was given to the participants to determine the effectiveness of this program.
Eight residents and five staff optometrists participated in the research program. This program resulted in an increase in research activity within the Optometry section, as well as a statistically significant increase in the self-reported knowledge about research (Wilcoxon Sign Rank p=0.0015). Interest in conducting research did not increase significantly (Wilcoxon Sign Rank p=0.29). Interest did increase in seven participants, but remained unchanged in two, and actually decreased in four individuals.
Exposure to the research program increased the confidence of participants in their research knowledge and appears to have clarified the participants’ interest in conducting research, with some more and others less interested in research than prior to the program. The true test of effectiveness of this effort will be determined by measuring subsequent increases in research activities within the SAVAHCS Optometry Section.
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