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Clinician Investigator Program

Developing the next generation of clinician scientists

The Dalhousie University Clinician Investigator Program (CIP) is an accredited postgraduate medical education training program of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. The goal of the CIP is to provide medical residents with structured and rigorous research training—in the midst of their residency—so that they develop the research skills and experience they require to become clinician investigators upon completing their residency. Because of their high level of both clinical and research involvement and training, clinician investigators (also called clinician scientists) are uniquely positioned to lead the way to substantial improvements in clinical practice, service delivery, health policy and other aspects of health care.

Program overview

Graduate or postdoctoral streams

Participants in the Clinician Investigator Program must complete at least two years of intensive research training. This can be done through one of two potential streams:

  • by enrolling in a graduate degree (MSc or PhD) program through the Faculty of Graduate Studies at Dalhousie University and completing a thesis or equivalent
  • by enrolling in a postdoctoral fellowship program (if the participant already has a graduate degree)

Options for research focus

The Clinician Investigator Program promotes a broad interpretation of health research that spans many different disciplines. Participants are free to choose a research project in the discipline that best suits their future plans. Potential research disciplines include:

  • laboratory-based biomedical research
  • clinical research (i.e., intervention studies, clinical epidemiology)
  • health services delivery and outcomes
  • health economics
  • health-system management
  • health policy
  • social, behavioural and information sciences

Pathways to completion

CIP participants can choose a pathway to completing their CIP and residency training that works for them. No matter which pathway they choose, residents entering the program will remain at the same PGY (postgraduate year) level of their residency training until they complete the research component of their CIP.

  • Continuous training pathway: This involves a minimum of 24 months of continuous, intensive research training, at a point along the residency training that suits the participant and supervisors.
  • Fractionated training pathway: This allows for a minimum of 24 months of research training to be distributed across a longer period of time. This is particularly suitable for research activities that involve long waiting periods (i.e. to obtain ethics approval or enroll enough patients), so the resident can return to their clinical training activities while they wait for such steps in the research process to be completed.

More time for research training can be added to the CIP pathways—for example, to allow a participant to convert from a master’s to a PhD, or pursue additional research experiences. By the end of the program, participants will have a solid grounding in research, but may require more than the minimum two years of research training to embark on a successful career as an independent researcher.

Supervision

CIP supervisors must be members of the Faculty of Graduate Studies at Dalhousie University. They may be affiliated with either a clinical or basic science department (or both). In addition to their primary supervisor, each trainee must have a supervisory committee of at least two members. At least one of these must be a clinician scientist.

Clinical involvement during the CIP

CIP trainees maintain a degree of clinical involvement throughout their research training, in order to retain their clinical knowledge and skills. They continue to participate in departmental grand rounds and may work up to 16 hours a week in clinical service. All clinical commitments must be approved by the CIP Residency Program Committee and must not interfere with trainees’ research program.

 

Requirements for completion

In order to successfully complete the Clinician Investigator Program (CIP), Dalhousie medical residents must:

  • attend monthly CIP seminars over the course of two years—these alternate case-based learning experiences (a total of 12 case studies) with participants’ presentations of their research progress and plans
  • complete an independent research study over a minimum of 24 months
  • submit two CIP Research-in-Training Evaluation Reports (RITER) and two progress reports, and attend two supervisory committee meetings, per year
  • prepare, submit and successfully defend a thesis (or equivalent, if the participant already holds a graduate degree).

Funding

CIP participants receive the same amount of financial support during the research part of their training as they do during their clinical residency training. This support comes from a variety of internal and external sources. The prospective CIP trainee must secure this funding—usually through the clinical department head—in order to be accepted into the program.

Sources of funding

  • Canadian Institutes of Health Research
  • Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness
  • Dalhousie Medical School Postgraduate Medical Education Office
  • Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute
  • Medical Research Development Office
  • Department of Surgery
  • Department of Medicine

 

How to apply

Individuals who are interested in applying to the Clinician Investigator Program should contact the Medical Research Development Office for guidance on finding a supervisor and thesis project. Once they have identified these cornerstones, and secured appropriate funding, they apply through the Medical Research Development Office.

For a complete list of application requirements, download the CIP Application Checklist [PDF - 229 KB].

Applications must include a completed CIP Application Form [PDF - 58 KB] and Application for Postgraduate Medical Training [PDF - 18 KB], a description of the proposed research, relevant transcripts, student/faculty biosketch [PDF - 23.6 KB], CIP funding letter [PDF - 9.36 KB] and other items as outlined in the checklist.

Detailed information

For more detailed information about the Clinician Investigator Program, download the CIP Student Handbook [PDF - 205 KB].