Family physicians who have entertained the thought of doing clinical research but haven't had the time or funding to get their project off the ground, take note. A new program designed specifically for FPs interested in conducting research of value to the specialty may be just what you've been looking for.
The Family Medicine Discovers Rapid Cycle Scientific Discovery and Innovation initiative, or FMD RapSDI, is a new signature program being offered by the AAFP Foundation in collaboration with the AAFP National Research Network. The initiative is now accepting applications from practicing family physicians interested in serving as principal investigators for innovative, short-term research projects designed to tackle real-world issues in primary care.
It's important to note that no previous research experience is required to submit an application. So if there's a clinical topic you've always wondered about, or a problem you've encountered in practice and want to study further, this initiative provides the perfect opportunity to put your research skills to the test and find meaningful solutions that fellow clinicians who have come across the same issues can benefit from.
"Family physicians are inquisitive by nature," said Lars Peterson, M.D., Ph.D., vice president of research for the American Board of Family Medicine and an associate professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, who serves as co-chair of the FMD RapSDI Work Group.
"We are not limited in care by patient age, gender, presenting problem or site of care," Peterson continued. "With such a broad view into patients' lives and the issues affecting their health, it's only natural that we wonder, can this be done better? Are we sure that's the correct drug? Does this patient really need that procedure?
- The Family Medicine Discovers Rapid Cycle Scientific Discovery and Innovation initiative is accepting applications from family physicians interested in conducting innovative short-term research projects.
- The application process is divided into two rounds, with the first application period closing Oct. 31.
- Two scholars selected will each receive a $40,000 grant to help cover the costs associated with their research, along with support and mentorship from AAFP National Research Network staff.
"A practicing family physician can learn from the FMD RapSDI program the tools to address these clinical questions in a systematic and rigorous way and to contribute these findings to the scientific literature and help improve care for all patients."
Eligible applicants must be AAFP members who are practicing family physicians at any post-residency career stage. They also must be willing to serve as principal investigator for the project for 12-18 months.
Preference will be given to qualified applicants with little or no prior research experience. The topic or question to be researched should be relevant to family medicine and yield findings that can be scalable or generalizable, and the scope of the project should be such that it can be completed within budget in less than 18 months.
Application Details and Timeline
The FMD RapSDI application process is divided into two competitive rounds. The first round closes Oct. 31. Eligible FPs are invited to submit an application that includes the following:
- a concise description of the topic or question to be studied, along with how further research in that area may benefit the specialty;
- a curriculum vitae or resume;
- a personal statement about how participating in the research will help the applicant achieve his or her professional development goals; and
- a certificate of commitment from the applicant's employer that expresses the employer's commitment to carrying out the research if the applicant is selected.
Applications will be reviewed starting in November, and decision letters will be sent to all applicants in January 2020. Applicants selected to proceed to the second round will be matched with an AAFP NRN staff member and/or an outside research mentor to help the applicant develop a full research application that includes a complete research plan, study protocol and estimated budget.
Second round applications will be due March 1, 2020. After reviewing those applications, two practicing family physicians will be selected and notified in May that they have been named 2020 FMD RapSDI scholars.
Each scholar will receive a $40,000 grant to help cover the costs associated with their research project and/or to offset the time and salary needed to develop and complete their project in 12-18 months. Scholars will also receive support and mentorship from AAFP NRN staff to fine-tune research protocols, perform project activities and analyze study data.
Providing Value to Family Medicine
Peterson explained the relevance of the FMD RapSDI initiative to the specialty.
"Not everyone catches the research bug early," he told AAFP News. "But some physicians face interesting questions or clinical challenges in practice and want to acquire training to answer those questions on a larger basis than one patient at a time.
"The FMD RapSDI program is important because it is intended to help practicing family physicians who develop an interesting clinical question learn research skills through a mentored project while remaining in their practice."
Peterson added that over time, it is hoped the initiative will create a cohort of front-line clinicians who can use their research skills to answer questions based on their years of experience in patient care.
Where to Learn More
To aid FPs who have questions about FMD RapSDI and the application process, the Academy is hosting a pair of Chat & Chew sessions at this year's Family Medicine Experience in Philadelphia. The first session is on Sept. 26, and the second is on Sept. 27.
For those not attending FMX, prospective applicants can sign up(ucdenver.co1.qualtrics.com) for any of three webinar sessions in October (all times Central):
- Thursday, Oct. 10, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
- Wednesday, Oct. 16, noon-1 p.m.
- Friday, Oct. 18, 2-3 p.m.
Applicants may also email AAFP NRN with questions.
Peterson encouraged all FPs with an interest in the research side of family medicine to apply.
"I think this is a great opportunity for practicing family physicians who can't leave their practice for a fellowship to gain research skills and knowledge to address real-world questions," he said. "It's been exciting to see the great work the AAFP NRN and Foundation staff have done in putting together the program."
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