Clinician investigator training in Canada: a review.
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PURPOSE: The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada undertook a review of its Clinician Investigator Program (CIP), 13 years after launching the program in response to shortages in clinical investigators. The primary study goals were to determine the outcomes, impact, strengths and weaknesses of CIP. METHODS: Focus groups and telephone interviews with current and past program directors (PD) and a detailed survey of current and former trainees were conducted. Thirteen PD and 45% of current and former trainees from 10 CIP participated. RESULTS: Since 1995, 12 CIP have been accredited and 553 residents have enrolled in CIP, with 194 completing CIP and residency training by 2008. PD recognized CIP as an excellent program that produces highly qualified clinical investigators; important for faculty renewal. Both trainees and PD identified the need to improve CIP funding. Most (84%) CIP trainees did not have prior graduate degrees. Most alumni had completed Masters (58%) or Doctoral (39%) programs during CIP and published on their CIP research (97%). Among alumni who completed CIP and residency, many obtained an academic appointment with protected time for research, with 39% receiving an external career award. Many (60%) alumni reported no drawbacks to CIP and recognized the added values included Royal College recognition, structured training, pursuit of graduate studies, integration of clinical/research training and enhanced mentorship. CONCLUSION: Since the progam's inception, the number of CIP in Canada has grown. CIP are recognized as important mechanisms for integrating clinical and research training during residency to produce highly qualified clinician investigators.
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