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Interdisciplinary Training Programs for Complementary and Integrative Health

Project Concept Review

Council Date: February 8, 2019

Program Officer: 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. NCCIH recognizes a distinct need for interdisciplinary training for complementary and integrative health clinician-scientists and research-intensive doctoral-trained scientists to work together to move the field forward in clinically meaningful ways. The National Advisory Council for Complementary and Integrative Health (NACCIH) Working Group Report on Clinician-Scientist Workforce Development (available at https://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 Program

This initiative is in direct response to the NACCIH Working Group Report on Clinician-Scientist Workforce Development. To support interdisciplinary training of postdoctoral-level trainees, the proposed initiative will support partnerships between research-intensive institutions and institutions focused on clinical training of complementary and integrative health practitioners. The training program will provide interdisciplinary training activities, intensive research training for individuals with clinical complementary and integrative health degrees, and training in complementary and integrative health modalities for individuals with research-oriented doctoral degrees. All trainees will be involved in mentored research experiences. It is anticipated that trainees will be appointed for 2 to 3 years and will then transition to independent positions. The interdisciplinary training program is expected to foster a high degree of research productivity among the appointed trainees, as evidenced by publications, research presentations, and external grant applications. The training partnership is expected to generate a cadre of scientists who participate in multidisciplinary teams engaged in complementary and integrative health research.

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:

  • Enhance interdisciplinary partnerships between research-intensive and complementary and integrative health institutions
  • Develop innovative approaches to support research training for clinicians with complementary and integrative health degrees, while also providing cross-training in complementary and integrative health modalities for trainees with more research-intensive backgrounds
  • Promote the development of interdisciplinary research collaborations for clinician-scientists that will extend from mentored experiences into independent research careers
  • Enhance the profile of both complementary and integrative health-trained clinician-scientists and conventionally trained researchers who conduct research in this field
  • Support research training within NCCIH priority research areas
  • Increase the number and quality of scientists and clinician-scientists trained to conduct rigorous, cutting-edge research on complementary and integrative practices.