Clinical Scholars Track
Director: Michael D. Jibson, M.D., Ph.D.
The Clinical Scholars Track (CST) prepares psychiatry residents for successful careers as clinical track faculty members through development of medical education skills, academic productivity, and professional identity. Through a combination of mentorship, scheduled didactics, work on an individual project, and involvement in professional organizations, participants in the track gain experience in classroom teaching, curriculum development, medical education research, and research in other areas of psychiatry. These elements provide our graduates with the tools they need to excel in teaching, to provide service to institutions and national organizations, and to advance in academic rank.
The current trends of academic medicine encourage faculty to specialize into researchers, educators, and clinicians. To protect the research endeavors of tenure track faculty, academic departments have turned to clinical track faculty to teach and to provide patient care. At the University of Michigan, this trend was apparent in an increase of clinical track faculty from 13% of positions in 1993 to over 40% in 1998, when the Clinical Scholars Track was developed.
These clinical track faculty members are responsible for nearly 60% of teaching, compared with less than 30% for tenure track faculty. Yet a survey of these faculty showed that most had no formal training in education or research, and many entered academia with only vaguely defined career goals. They face promotion requirements that include not only excellence in teaching, but development of a regional or national reputation through academic activity and service to national organizations. When asked what additional experiences in residency would have been most helpful to them, they overwhelmingly cited the need for more formal teaching experience and development of a specific focus of academic activity. They noted that traditional residency training offers little preparation in either area.
With these concerns in mind, in 1998 the University of Michigan Department of Psychiatry introduced the Clinical Scholars Track to prepare residents for success as clinical track faculty in psychiatry. The goal of the track is to qualify graduates for faculty appointments at leading medical centers and prepare them for success in those positions.
The Clinical Scholars Track is focused on three specific areas: 1) development of expertise in medical education; 2) creation of a focus for academic productivity; and 3) establishment of professional identity and reputation.
The track includes experiences in classroom teaching, curriculum development, education administration, and medical education research. Work with a faculty mentor is supplemented with weekly didactic experiences and optional involvement in university and medical school teacher development programs. CST residents join faculty in giving medical student lectures and seminars, in teaching junior residents, and in providing educational experiences for residents in other specialties. Interested residents develop medical education projects under the supervision of faculty mentors, systematically evaluate the effectiveness of those projects, and present the results at national education meetings and publication in professional journals.
Success in academia requires the establishment of a regional or national reputation as a leader in the field. This requires focus on a specific area of expertise, research, or leadership. CST residents develop unique areas of activity in their work, either within medical education or in other fields of psychiatry. About half the CST residents build on their work in education, developing an education project or conducting education research. The remaining residents choose to augment their teaching experience with research in other areas, often working with separate education and research mentors.
Academic psychiatry is a community of scholars who work together to advance the field and to prepare the next generation of psychiatrists. Although this community is open and welcoming to new members, finding one’s place in it can be a challenge. The CST places a priority on assisting residents in this process. CST residents work closely with faculty mentors who are active in regional and national organizations, and quickly become a part of those networks. Publication, presentation, and participation in these large-scale academic activities are critical to the residents’ success and are a focus of CST activity.
The CST program is designed to be flexible to fit individual residents’ interests and schedules. It does not extend the time of a 4-year residency, but uses elective time and scheduled clinical rotations for program activities. All residents receive the core elements of mentorship, didactics, and travel. Additional experiences are available based on the needs and interests of the resident.
The selection of a faculty mentor is the first step in the CST. Residents work closely with their mentors over several years in the development of projects, preparation of presentations and publications, and other activities. Mentors serve as role models and guides through the sometimes arcane world of academia. Graduates of the CST program have consistently cited their faculty mentors as the single most important element of the program.
CST residents meet weekly with Research Track (RT) residents for didactics covering research design, career development, discussion of resident projects, and other topics. The weekly meetings serve the dual purposes of conveying information to residents and bringing them together to support and encourage one another. CST and RT residents each bring important skills to these sessions. CST residents critique manuscripts and presentations offered by the RT residents, thereby helping their colleagues communicate and teach more effectively. RT residents offer feedback to the CST residents on study design, data interpretation, and technical writing, leading to higher quality work with greater scientific rigor.
The annual RT/CST Retreat is an intensive experience involving both internal and external advisors who come together for a weekend of resident presentations and discussion. It is an opportunity for residents to receive feedback on their work not only from their individual mentors, but from others on the faculty and national leaders in the field.
Because of the importance of participation in professional organizations, the program sponsors travel to at least 2 meetings per year for CST residents. Residents are expected to actively participate in these meetings, conducting workshops, presenting posters, and speaking. Additional funds are available to assist residents in with these activities.
CST residents are encouraged to participate in faculty development programs, such as the medical school’s Medical Education Scholars Program or the university’s Center for Research and Learning on Teaching seminars. CST residents are invited to join faculty committees related to their areas of interest. Where additional training time or more in-depth research training would be appropriate, CST residents have the option of transitioning to the Research Track.
Certification of Graduation
At graduation, residents who have participated in the CST, have completed a project, and who have been active in related professional activities receive recognition on their diploma from the residency program and in their final evaluation letter. Their participation is thus noted on all letters from the program documenting their residency training.
How to Apply
The Clinical Scholars Track is an integral part of the general and subspecialty residency programs and accepts applicants only from within the residency. Residents in the program may apply to the CST at any time during training, but are encouraged to do so by the end of PGY-2, to provide the maximum time in the track.
The application process consists of a brief letter requesting entry, identification of a faculty mentor (who has agreed to serve in that role), and outline of a project or area of academic interest that will be the initial focus of work.
The GME Scholars Program is a unique opportunity available to residents and fellows at the University of Michigan designed to provide a strong foundation for positions in medical education or healthcare administration.