Research on Pritzker’s Scholarship & Discovery Program highlighted in “Academic Medicine”

Pritzker students engage in mentored research through the Scholarship & Discovery component of our curriculum, but in what appears to be a self-reflective twist, some of our students and faculty are actually engaging in research about scholarship and discovery.

Students and faculty explored the impact of the Scholarship and Discovery (S&D) program on career planning, publishing their findings in the AAMC journal Academic Medicine. This paper, entitled, “The Impact of a Scholarly Concentration Program on Student Interest in Career-Long Research: A Longitudinal Study” was authored by Rachel Wolfson, MD, Co-Director of Scholarship & Discovery; Kurt Alberson, MS3; Michael McGinty, Curriculum Management Specialist; Korry Schwanz, MHA, Director of Medical School Education; Kirsten Dickins, RN, MSW, former Manager of Scholarly Activities, and Vineet Arora, MD, AM’03, Associate Dean for Scholarship & Discovery.

In 2008, Pritzker implemented a new curricular requirement of participation in research (S&D). Consisting of five tracks, this program gave structure to Pritzker students’ already robust engagement in research projects. Through S&D, students receive structured mentoring, a host of resources, and protected time in their curriculum schedule for research.

Drs. Wolfson and Arora have been curious about the effect of S&D on our students’ and graduates’ interest in integrating research into their careers, and they developed a research project with the aim of measuring this impact. They opened up their project to students participating in the Medical Education track of S&D, and Kurt Alberson, MS3, joined the team, along with three Pritzker staff members.

Worried that as pressures on the academic workforce increase, students may be less likely to choose the physician-scientist pathway, the research team investigated whether the S&D program encouraged continuation of research after medical school graduation. They surveyed the Pritzker classes of 2014 and 2015 on their experiences during S&D, measuring interest in career-long research, dissemination of research, and satisfaction with the program and their mentors. They found that early participation in research and other specific variables encourage future physicians to make research a part of their long-term pathways.

The University of Chicago has long valued its contribution to the creation of new knowledge in every discipline, and it is gratifying to see that curricular innovations in the Pritzker School of Medicine are supporting the continuation of this proud legacy.