Background Research is encouraged as part of residency in Royal College training programs. However, resident productivity in this area is highly variable. We report our experience of supporting scholarly activities of residents by the provision of a scholarly activity coordinator (SAC). The SAC role includes identifying and promoting resident involvement in research and supporting residents in preparing research results for scholarly presentation. The SAC is involved in facilitating literature searches, developing research questions, designing ethical protocol forms, assisting with statistical analyses, and maintaining necessary timelines to ensure that projects are conducted efficiently. Within a first-year rotation, the department also provided the residents with protective time, with the SAC and faculty, in order to explore research opportunities and to develop basic expertise. In addition, residents were encouraged and granted the opportunity to take research elective time each year throughout their residency training (to a maximum of 6 months). Our research question addressed the impact of the SAC on research endeavor by our residents.
Method We retroactively reviewed data from the Royal College program review documents of January 2001 (prior to SAC being in place) and of October 2004 (following 30 months with a SAC) in regards to the following criteria: peer-reviewed publications, published abstracts for presentation at meetings, grants submitted, and grants funded.
Results From 2001 to 2004, the number of published abstracts increased from 35 to 106, the number of grants submitted increased from 8 to 14, and the number of grants funded increased from 4 to 10. The number of peer-reviewed publications remained essentially stable with 54 in 2001 and 42 in 2004.
Discussion We are the first residency program to publish the impact of a SAC on resident research activities. Our data indicate that the employment of a SAC results in increased productivity and a better success rate in obtaining research funding. Residents identify a greater sense of comfort and ability in participating in research and in the presentation of results at scientific meetings. We anticipate the increase in the number of published abstracts will lead to an increase in the number of paper submissions to peer-reviewed publications. Income from foreign residents training in Canadian residency programs could potentially generate funding for a SAC position. In terms of the University of British Columbia Pediatrics program, the SAC position has become a key component in the promotion of resident research. We recommend that the expertise of a SAC be available in all residency programs.
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