Creating a Centralized Infrastructure to Facilitate Medical Education Research

Ann Fam Med. 2018 May;16(3):257-260. doi: 10.1370/afm.2228.


Purpose: Building research capacity and increasing scholarly productivity are identified needs of the specialty of family medicine. The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) has increased the scholarly requirements for residency programs, placing even more pressure on faculty to be productive in the scholarly realm. The Council of Academic Family Medicine Educational Research Alliance (CERA) was created by volunteer members of the specialty with shared interests in overcoming barriers and increasing scholarly production.

Methods: CERA has developed the infrastructure and expertise to regularly conduct omnibus surveys of key family medicine educational leaders. Proposals are centrally collected and competitively chosen. The omnibus survey process includes collaboration with experienced mentors, centralized institutional review board clearance, pilot testing, and centralized data collection. The survey results are disseminated back to research teams for presentation and publication of the findings.

Results: To date, over 115 research teams have had their projects included in CERA omnibus surveys. Projects have been led by research teams from across the country and with a wide variety of research experience. This collaborative work has resulted in more than 75 scientific presentations and over 55 peer-reviewed papers in the medical literature. The raw data are now available online and serve as a repository for future secondary analysis and as an educational resource.

Conclusions: The CERA infrastructure has allowed a large number of research teams to conduct meaningful scholarship at a fraction of the typical cost in terms of time and energy. CERA has expanded family medicine research by removing barriers for teams with limited experience or resources.

Keywords: primary care research; research capacity.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Accreditation / standards
  • Biomedical Research / methods*
  • Capacity Building / methods*
  • Education, Medical, Graduate / standards
  • Family Practice / education*
  • Humans
  • United States