Career Development for Clinician-Scientists with Complementary and Integrative Health Clinical Degrees

Council Date: June 1, 2018    

Program Director: Lanay M. Mudd, Ph.D.            


Background 

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) currently supports a variety of research training and career development opportunities to increase the number and quality of scientists trained to conduct rigorous, cutting-edge research on complementary and integrative practices, and to foster interdisciplinary collaborations and partnerships. Furthermore, NCCIH recognizes that clinician-scientists trained in both science and complementary and integrative clinical practice serve as an essential bridge between both domains, and offer a unique perspective for moving research forward in clinically meaningful ways. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has been discussing the training needs of clinician-scientists, and NCCIH convened a Council Working Group on Clinician-Scientist Workforce Development in 2015 to identify research training and career development gaps and needs for individuals trained in both science and clinical practice. The National Advisory Council for Complementary and Integrative Health (NACCIH) Working Group Report (available at: files.nccih.nih.gov/s3fs-public/Workforce-Development-Working-Group-Report.pdf) included six formal recommendations, as follows:

  1. Make improvements in existing programs if a need is identified, and find new ways to leverage and optimize these programs.
  2. Continue to support a variety of career paths to the goal of clinician-scientist, addressing specific roadblocks in each type of path. As part of this effort, develop innovative approaches to support research training for clinicians with complementary and integrative health degrees.
  3. Develop programs to support the host environments at all types of institutions involved in research training in complementary and integrative health. This effort should include incentivizing institutions to reward teams of scientists and clinicians.
  4. Raise the visibility of complementary and integrative health in the research and clinical community at large by enhancing the profile of both complementary and integrative health-trained clinician-scientists and conventionally trained researchers who conduct research in this field.
  5. Tie NCCIH’s training and career development initiatives to the Center’s priority areas for research funding, while remaining open to potential support of new areas as appropriate.
  6. Consider ways to address challenges related to the peer review process.

Purpose of Proposed Initiative

This initiative is in direct response to the NACCIH Working Group Report on Clinician Scientist Workforce Development. The proposed initiative will leverage existing NIH-supported institutional career development programs to support additional research training opportunities for clinicians with complementary and integrative health degrees, within an interdisciplinary environment. The trainee will be required to propose a mentored research plan that is well-aligned with NCCIH Priorities (https://nccih.nih.gov/about/strategic-plans/2016), along with a comprehensive research training plan that may include a formal research degree program (e.g., Masters of Public Health). The research and training plans will be proposed within the context of an existing institutional training program, and should include a timeline for submitting a subsequent grant application within 3 years. By leveraging existing NIH-supported institutional career development programs, trainees will also have access to a wide-array of resources associated with those programs, and will be embedded within an interdisciplinary training experience that will foster research partnerships. 

Objectives

The objectives to be met by this concept are well aligned with the Working Group Report and include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Improve existing NIH-supported institutional career development programs to further support research training for clinicians with complementary and integrative health degrees
  • Develop innovative approaches to support research training for clinicians with complementary and integrative health degrees
  • Promote the development of interdisciplinary research collaborations for clinician-scientists that will extend from mentored experiences into independent research careers
  • Raise the visibility of complementary and integrative health research within existing NIH-supported institutional research training programs
  • Support clinician-scientist research training within NCCIH priority research areas, particularly for complementary approaches to pain management
  • Increase the number and quality of clinician-scientists trained to conduct rigorous, cutting-edge research on complementary and integrative practices.