Objective: To evaluate an experiential student clinical addiction research program by analyzing its components, evaluation survey data, and scientific outputs.
Methods: In 1995, we established a summer research program supporting trainees to gain exposure to clinical addiction research careers. This curriculum employed a three-pronged approach that combined mentored research training, didactic education, and clinical observerships for medical students and other trainees to acquire experience with addiction medicine and research. Utilizing the Kirkpatrick model as program evaluation framework, we analyzed evaluation data from programmatic surveys (didactic seminar evaluations, overall program surveys) and conducted qualitative feedback exploration.
Results: Between 2007 and 2019, 56 trainees and 26 faculty mentors participated in the curriculum. To date, 25 students published 38 papers with their faculty mentor. Analysis of the past 12 years of program evaluation data demonstrated that students highly valued individually-mentored research experiences. They indicated that seminars familiarized them with the foundations of different clinical care models and career trajectories in addiction medicine. Clinical observerships provided students with patient contacts in various multidisciplinary addiction treatment settings. These experiences, perhaps most importantly hearing about patients' lived experiences, meaningfully informed various research and didactic activities.
Conclusions: This summer student research program successfully introduced students to addiction medicine and research, manifested by high peer-reviewed publication productivity. While our program engaged and involved committed mentors and inspired mentees to pursue professional paths in addiction research, it did not specifically incorporate attention to equity and diversity into program planning and implementation. Going forward, the program will improve equity by increasing the recruitment of trainees from disadvantaged groups and engaging underrepresented faculty.KEY MESSAGESSummer programs can be effective in engaging medical students and trainees in research early in their trajectory and inspire them to incorporate research into their careers.Programs that integrate experiential addiction research learning, i.e. mentored research activities, didactic sessions, and clinical observerships, can provide trainees with a profound understanding of substance use disorder treatment and research.
Keywords: Addiction medicine; MSSRP; experiential learning; medical education; research training.