Objectives: In the United States, emergency medicine (EM) researchers hold proportionately fewer federal career development awards than researchers in other specialties. Others hypothesize that this deficit may partly be attributed to lack of mentors, departmental resources, and qualified applicants. Our objectives were to examine the association between departmental and institutional resources and career development awards and to describe the barriers to conducting research and btaining grants in EM.
Methods: We conducted an online, cross-sectional survey study of vice chairs for research and research directors at academic emergency departments in the United States in January and February 2016. Participants provided quantitative information regarding their department's demographics, available research resources, number of funded independent investigators, and number of career development awards. They were also asked about the perceived adequacy of departmental and institutional resources and perceived barriers to research and grant success. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and multivariable linear regression, as appropriate.
Results: Of 178 eligible participants, 103 (58%) completed the survey. Most departments reported some infrastructure for research and grant submission, including research coordinator(s) (n = 75/99; 76%, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 66%-84%), research associates (69/99; 70%, 95% CI = 60%-79%), and administrative/secretarial research support (79/101; 78%, 95% CI = 69%-86%). The majority of departments (56/103; 49%, 95% CI = 44%-64%) had no R01-funded researchers, and only 15 (15%, 95% CI = 8%-23%) had three or more R01-funded researchers. The most frequently reported challenge to junior faculty applying for grants was low motivation for applying (62/103; 60%, 95% CI = 50%-70%), followed closely by insufficient mentorship (50/103; 49%, 95% CI = 39%-59%) and discouragement from low funding rates (50/103; 49%, 95% CI = 39%-59%). In the multivariable model, only the number of departmental R-level-funded researchers was associated with the number of departmental career development awards (coefficient = 0.75, 95% CI = 0.39-1.11; R2 = 0.57).
Conclusions: While more multiple departmental and institutional resources correlated with a greater number of funded career development awards, the single greatest predictor was the number of R-level-funded researchers in the department. Low motivation and insufficient mentorship were the most frequently reported barriers to junior faculty applying for career development awards. Further studies are needed to describe junior faculty perspectives on these issues and to explore strategies for overcoming these barriers.
© 2017 by the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine.