Self-Assessment of Research Skills and Barriers to Research Careers among Pulmonary and Critical Care Fellows.

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BACKGROUND: Recruitment and retention of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine (PCCM) trainees into academic research positions remain difficult. Factors influencing graduates, like salary and personal circumstances, remain unchangeable. However, some program-level factors, like research skill acquisition and mentorship, may be modifiable to encourage matriculation into academic research positions.

OBJECTIVE: We aim to identify proficiency in research-specific skills in PCCM trainees and barriers to careers as research-focused academic faculty.

METHODS: We surveyed PCCM fellows in a nationwide cross-sectional analysis including demographics, research intent, research skills self-assessment, and academic career barriers. The Association of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine Program Directors approved and disseminated the survey. Data were collected and stored using the REDCap database. Descriptive statistics were used to assess survey items.

RESULTS: 612 fellows received the primary survey with 112 completing the survey for a response rate of 18.3%. A majority were male (56.2%) and training at university-based medical centers (89.2%). Early fellowship trainees (first-/second-year fellows) comprised 66.9% of respondents with 33.1% being late fellowship trainees (third-/fourth-year fellows). Most early trainees (63.2%) indicated they intended to incorporate research into their careers. A chi-square testing of independence was performed to examine the relationship between training level and perceived proficiency. Significant relationships in perceived proficiency were identified between early and late fellowship trainees with an absolute difference of 25.3% (manuscript writing), 18.7% (grant writing), 21.6% (study design), and 19.5% (quantitative/qualitative methodology). The most prevalent barriers were unfamiliarity with grant writing (59.5%) and research funding uncertainty (56.8%).

CONCLUSION: With an ongoing need for academic research faculty, this study identifies self-perceived gaps in research skills including grant writing, data analytics, and study conception and design. These skills map to fellow-identified barriers to careers in academics. Mentorship and innovative curriculum focusing on the development of key research skills may enhance academic research faculty recruitment.



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Medicine and Health Sciences




Department of Medicine

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