Dr. Harriet Hopf co-leads a successful Virtual Foundation for Anesthesia Education and Research (FAER) Medical Student Anesthesia Research Fellowship (MSARF)
Aug 24, 2020 12:00 PM
The Foundation for Anesthesia Education and Research (FAER) Medical Student Anesthesia Research Fellowship (MSARF) program provides funding for medical students to pursue a mentored research experience, usually during the summer after their first year. The sixty students who are selected for the competitive program participate in an anesthesia research project, shadow clinicians to learn about anesthesiology, network with anesthesiologists and other students interested in a career in academic anesthesiology, and build a strong record for residency application. Students present a poster at the ASA Annual Meeting and about 40-45% of them go on to publish their results. The University of Utah has hosted one or two MSARF students almost every year since 2009 and they are an impressive group.
Unfortunately , because the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted student access to on-site research and travel to other medical schools, FAER made the difficult decision at the end of March, after students had been matched to host departments, to cancel MSARF for this summer. I am Chair of the FAER Board of Directors and have led the MSARF program for the past few years. I convened a small committee in April, tasked with quickly reimagining how to support accepted students. The result was Virtual-MSARF, an 8-week summer program designed to develop students’ interest in and understanding of research and anesthesiology.
V-MSARF ran from June 15 through August 14, 2020, with 45 students completing the program. The program included three weekly components: a panel presentation on aspects of anesthesia and anesthesia research, a journal club, and the a small group mentoring session with three students and an MSARF Mentor.
Panel presentations included brief presentations by two or three experts, followed by a Q & A session. Presenters included MSARF mentors, leaders of the American Society of Anesthesiologists, and members of the FAER Academy of Research Mentors in Anesthesiology. Topics included “The Future of Research in Anesthesiology,” “The Practice of Anesthesiology,” “Paths to a Career in Academic Anesthesiology,” discussions of types of research, including basic science, device development, clinical and translational, health services, big data, and educational research. The final session focused on “Scientific Writing and Publication.” The students were eager participants, and often kept the (very generous) speakers well over time with their insightful questions. A video of each panel presentation, including the Q&A session, is available on the FAER website: https://www.asahq.org/faer/programs/medicalstudentfellowships/virtual. It’s a valuable resource to share with students interested in our specialty.
All of the students volunteered to present at a Journal Club, so two articles were presented each week. Three students were assigned to work with each mentor to present the findings and facilitate the discussion. Special thanks to Kai Kuck from our department, who mentored a very successful discussion on cerebral oximetry.
The mentoring groups run independently. Students appreciated the access and networking, as well as the opportunity to ask questions. Some mentors brought in guest speakers. Others used the time to coach the students on topics like finding mentors and applying to residency.Because of generous funding from a grant from Cook Medical and additional support from B. Braun, FAER was able to provide honoraria for the mentors and a stipend for each medical student who completed the program. While our expectation is that anesthesia research laboratories will be able to host summer medical students in 2021, the experience gained and content developed this summer will provide the basis for FAER to offer future MSARF students some centralized, collaborative programming to facilitate networking and understanding of the future of anesthesiology research.