Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Interdisciplinary Health Sciences

First Advisor

Rob Lyerla, Ph.D., M.G.I.S.

Second Advisor

Mark Trottier, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Kieran J. Fogarty, Ph.D.


Curriculum development, medical education, quality improvement, research


Early and frequent exposure to research is imperative to initiating and sustaining long term for medical student research interest. The attitude and approach of physician mentors has been demonstrated to have a substantial effect on student perceptions of research involvement. The purpose of this study is to determine best practices for assessing student perceptions for a research certification program. An additional long-term objective is to utilize these findings to help maintain interest in research throughout their medical careers. Research is an essential aspect of the prestige of medical schools, and the benefits of academic research institutions have numerous facets, including more funding opportunities, access to the latest technologies and techniques, and high institutional quality ranking.

A mixed-methods, quality improvement survey was distributed by the MSU Office of Student Affairs and Services to all medical students. The collection period began in Fall 2020, with the post-test period in Spring 2021. There were 52 unique, paired respondents included in the analysis. Nominal data was analyzed using chi-squared testing. Paired-sample t-test and was used for Likert scale questions. Qualitative data assessment methodology was performed using content analysis theory. The four difference exposures ranged from required and elective coursework to scholarly conferences and extracurricular research. To classify respondents into stratifications based on research knowledge/experience and research importance responses were converted to numeric values. The improvement in knowledge/experience was noted to be statistically significant. The change over time was not found to be statistically significant for research importance. However, for the aggregate data, the improvement noted from the pre- and post-op period was significant.

The results of this survey indicate several insights regarding the qualities that best characterize the most knowledgeable and experienced medical students in research. Also, there are factors that determine which of these are most likely to continue to be in engaged during residency and into practice. While gender and ethnicity dynamics do not play a substantial role in research interest and exposure, students do tend to be older with higher levels of education. The significant improvement observed in pre- and post- test comparison reinforces not only the importance of research exposure, but also that the experience be multimodal in nature.

A flexible myriad of approaches has been observed, both in this study and the literature to be the ideal means of encouraging students to engage and maintain research interest. In the longer view, it may also prove to have the same utility beyond medical school. Having a better understanding of how students perceive research is essential for advancing curricula that supports and encourages prospective physician scientists. A promising starting point is to identify the key characteristics of students who are most likely to actively participate in research both in medical school and beyond. Once that profile is understood, the experiences and exposures of those students can be used as template to optimize research involvement for future students.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access