Bridging the divide: Student grand rounds at the interface of basic science and clinical medicine

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Academic Medicine

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Problem: As biomedical research and clinical medicine become increasingly complex, physician-scientists and clinically oriented biomedical researchers play important roles in bridging the gap between disciplines. A lack of educational programming that addresses the unique needs of students preparing for careers at the interface of basic science and clinical medicine may contribute to trainee attrition. Approach: The MD-PhD/LHB Grand Rounds was introduced in 2008 as a trainee-driven collaborative effort of the Harvard/ Massachusetts Institute of Technology MD-PhD program at Harvard Medical School (HMS MD-PhD program), Harvard's Leder Human Biology and Translational Medicine (LHB) program, and the Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) Internal Medicine Department. Each of the program's approximately 4 sessions per year begins with dinner, followed by a clinical case presentation led by a BWH MD-PhD resident with a master clinician faculty discussant, then a research presentation by an LHB PhD student or an MD-PhD student on a basic science topic related to the clinical case, and time for socialization. Outcomes: In a July 2017 survey of participating students and residents, respondents reported being highly satisfied with the program. Mean satisfaction ratings were 4.3 (SD 0.5) for 12 MD-PhD students, 4.2 (SD 0.7) for 31 LHB students, and 4.4 (SD 0.9) for 5 residents on a 5-point scale (5 = very satisfied). Free-text responses suggested MD-PhD students valued opportunities for active engagement with the resident presenter and faculty discussant. LHB students appreciated the absence of medical jargon in the clinical presentations. Residents' reported reasons for participating included enjoyment of teaching and interaction with students. Next Steps: The Harvard MD-PhD/LHB Grand Rounds can serve as a template for developing similar programs at other institutions. Research is needed to determine whether such grand rounds programs can help fix the leaky pipeline in the training of future physician-scientists and clinically oriented biomedical researchers.

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