The Indiana University School of Medicine (IUSM) is a major medical research center, and education of its medical students in an atmosphere of research and scholarship is an enduring and high priority. Research is defined as “careful study that is done to find and report new knowledge about something” and scholarship is defined as “serious formal study or research of a subject” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). Formal research is a hypothesis-driven investigation while scholarship additionally may entail observational and experiential activities.
Medical students at IUSM are afforded two main opportunities to pursue research and scholarly activities during their four years of undergraduate medical education. The first opportunity arises during the summer between medical school year 1 (MS1) and year 2 (MS2). Students in good academic standing and without the need of remediation for MS1 coursework are eligible to apply for and participate in the Indiana University Medical Student Program for Research and Scholarship (IMPRS). Under this program, students spend 10 weeks engaged in research and/or experiential activities in one of four available academic medicine tracks: Laboratory Research, Clinical Research/Observation, Community Outreach, and Health Research Outcomes. The second opportunity comes during MS4 in the form of advanced science electives and research electives. These electives are customized in a student-specific manner to optimize learning and research in the student’s chosen medical specialty.
These research and scholarly activity opportunities will be communicated to students in a standardized manner via the Lead Academic Advisors, directed by Dr. Abigail Klemsz, through the IUSM Mentoring and Advising Program. Students will be encouraged by the Lead Advisors to consider conducting a research or experiential activity either via IMPRS (between MS1 and MS2) or via advanced science/research electives (during MS4). Students will be directed to the IMPRS application available online (IMPRS’ website) or will be counselled when generating their MS4 academic schedule.
While the MS4 advanced science and research electives are tailored and generated on a student-by-student basis, the summer IMPRS program entails programmatic enrichment for all participating students including weekly lunch seminars that include training in responsible conduct of research, research rigor and reproducibility, and career development. This seminar is distributed via video-conferencing capabilities to allow access for all students participating in IMPRS state-wide. At the termination of the summer, a scholarly product is required from each student participating in the IMPRS program. At a minimum, each student is required to provide a 250 word abstract describing their research project, a case report, or their experiential participation during the summer. Students participating in the Laboratory Research track present their work in a poster session, and we are working to expand this poster session to include students participating in the Clinical Research/Observation, Community Outreach, and Health Research Outcomes tracks as well.