Background and objectives: To enhance research productivity among East Tennessee State University's faculty, the Department of Family Medicine developed and implemented a multi-component initiative to expand multidisciplinary primary care research.
Methods: The research support infrastructure expanded to include a family physician research director, three PhD faculty researchers, two research assistants, a statistician, and a grant/science writer. A monthly seminar series, quarterly workshops, and a formal mentoring program paired more-experienced with less-experienced faculty researchers. Through a competitive mechanism in which junior faculty submitted proposals, a multidisciplinary committee selected two family physician researchers to receive protected time to develop their research.
Results: From 2001-2006, more than 25 experienced researchers served as mentors, lecturers, consultants, or reviewers. Fifteen mentor-mentee pairs were formed. Of 30 family medicine faculty, the number actively engaged in research, including project design, data collection, oral presentation of results, or journal article submissions, increased from seven (23%) to 19 (63%). From 2001-2006 the number of presentations at professional meetings increased, and articles in peer-reviewed journals increased nearly fivefold. Grant submissions increased, with 19 faculty members participating in grant-writing teams. Based on the success of this initiative, the program has expanded to include faculty members in general internal medicine and general pediatrics.
Conclusions: Our multi-component initiative successfully builds and sustains a primary care research program.