Fellows Corner: Clinical Research Fellowship

By Chris Coyne, MD

christopher-coyneWhat drew you to this fellowship?

During residency, and even before, I had a suspicion that I would be heading towards academic medicine. As a way of getting involved in the ER, I latched onto an ongoing research project in the ED during medical school and sort of “caught the research bug.” Projects continued during residency, and as 4th year approached, I found myself interested in fellowship training but without a specific interest in any of the “standard” emergency fellowships (tox, US, hyperbarics, etc). The clinical research fellowship seemed to offer everything I was looking for: an advanced training in clinical research, study design, methods, analysis, etc.. At the same time, the research fellowship allowed for the flexibility to study ANYTHING in emergency medicine. During the fellowship you’re essentially building your academic CV. You are working on your own publications, while also collaborating with various ED attendings who are taking advantage of your growing research expertise.

Approximately how many fellowships are offered?

There are 33 research fellowships offered in the United States (SAEM website).

Does it have a board certification?

No ACGME or ABEM certification yet, though SAEM does their own accreditation.

Are there significant differences between fellowship sites? Are they all one year?

The standard research fellowship is 2 years in length, given that most fellowships require an advanced degree as part of their fellowship training (masters in public health, masters in science, masters in clinical research, etc). If an applicant already has an advanced degree in research methodology, the fellowship may be shortened, but this is institution dependent.

What is the application process like? (match, non-match, timeline, etc)

Non-match. Email the institution for an application and to arrange an interview.

What is a typical day like in fellowship?

Most research fellowships have between 2-6 clinical shifts per month. A majority of the fellowship is dedicated to didactic training in clinical research (through the advanced degree program) and to the creation, implementation and completion of research projects. Learning how to write a successful grant is an additional valuable aspect of the program, and SAEM accreditation requires that fellows submit at least one major grant during their fellowship.

What is typical pay during fellowship?

Most institutions will pay a fellow salary (PGY5, PGY6). However, since this is not an ACGME accredited fellowship, this may vary site to site.

What are the options for careers after fellowship? (i.e. mainly academic, etc)

This is a fellowship designed mainly for those that are pursuing a career in academic medicine. That being said, having the skills in research methodology could easily be used in community practice quality improvement projects. Also, consulting work is an option following the clinical research fellowship.

How can residents get involved now?

The way to get involved now would be to learn about the research projects available in your department. Try to latch onto a project that involves a field of medicine that you’re interested in. However, even if you’re not “highly interested” in the research topics available in your ED, getting involved and learning how research works is still a valuable experience that may help you decide if the clinical research fellowship is right for you.

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