At the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, research is threaded through all four years of study. Each student is required to complete a hypothesis-driven research project and write a paper of publishable quality. Students are provided with the essential tools and talented mentors needed to complete their projects, and they take inspiration from the leading physician–scientists who visit the school to discuss state-of-the-art research.
The school dedicates more than 1,200 hours of its curriculum to research—and it shows. Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine students have presented at national and international conferences and dozens have been published in prestigious scientific journals.
Research Curriculum: The First Year
The first year of the research curriculum focuses on research instruction to ensure students have the rudimentary tools needed to complete a research project.
Students receive four-and-a-half hours of research instruction each week. As part of that instruction time, students receive “Research Live” presentations from faculty members who want to highlight research opportunities available to Virginia Tech Carilion students. Once students identify an area or mentor of interest, they can begin discussions with faculty members about the nature and scope of the research project.
Each student selects a project between the first and second year. A seven-week block of unscheduled time is built into the schedule for students to begin the research project effort between those two years.
Research Curriculum: The Second Year
During the second year, students review the research instruction from the first year and tailor it to their selected project. Faculty members also present students with additional instruction focusing on areas such as legal issues, regulations, ethics and more. Concurrently, the mentors will help the students identify two co-mentors. The mentor and co-mentors will become the student’s advisory team. By the end of the second year, students should be well prepared to perform their research project.
After approval, students will have portions of a 14-week block of time between years two and three to do the bulk of the experiments and data collection for their projects.
Research Curriculum: The Third and Fourth Years
During years three and four, there are two- and four-week blocks of time between clinical rotations where students can continue work on their research projects. Data collection and analysis should be complete near the beginning of the fourth year so students can commit to the writing of a manuscript of publishable quality.
In all, more than 1,200 hours of research time have been reserved in the curriculum.