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Standardizing Research Training: a Pilot Curriculum Within a Hematology/Oncology Fellowship Program

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While scholarly activity is recognized as critical in cancer education, there is an outstanding need for methods to define research learning competencies and tools for formal research productivity and competency assessment. We piloted and studied a novel educational initiative within the University of Wisconsin Hematology/Oncology fellowship program, establishing a professional learning community (PLC) of research mentors and developing a formative evaluation tool, a research portfolio. We developed a PLC engaged in reflective conversations about intended learning outcomes and effective instructional strategies. Subsequently, a research portfolio was piloted with four first-year Hematology/Oncology fellows at the start of the 2020 academic year in which trainees document, critically evaluate, and reflect upon the knowledge, skills, confidence, and productivity acquired during research training. We employed surveys to evaluate the initiative. Seven Hematology/Oncology fellows (7/12, 58%) completed pre-intervention and six-month interim evaluation surveys, with 43% (3/7) identifying an increased confidence in quality of research training strategies following the pilot initiation. All four first-year fellows that piloted the research portfolio (4/4, 100%) completed interim evaluation surveys that demonstrated benefits of the research portfolio including self-reflection and goal setting. Research portfolio scoring correlated with other markers of academic success, suggesting its potential to predict research success. Our data suggest that bringing together a community of research mentors to generate shared learning goals and develop the framework for a formative evaluation portfolio may meet critical needs research training needs in cancer education. Given promising results, we aim to create a new educational tool for research training.

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This project was supported by a University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health Medical Education Innovation Grant.

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Correspondence to Stephanie L. Pritzl.

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Pritzl, S.L., Lang, L.M., Osman, F. et al. Standardizing Research Training: a Pilot Curriculum Within a Hematology/Oncology Fellowship Program. J Canc Educ 38, 713–717 (2023).

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