Inquiry Program Course Descriptions

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Foundations of Medical Knowledge Phase

Formerly known as Research I, the first year research course focuses on enforcing the importance of biomedical research to the clinical enterprise and developing skills to help future MDs understand the scientific and research basis of all aspects of clinical practice. In order to understand the scientific basis of clinical practice, medical students are required to read and comprehend primary scientific literature. This skill is required because medical practice is increasingly based on sound research evidence. The course includes a combination of didactic lectures focused on concepts and the development of skills in evidence-based medicine and research as applied to clinical cases. This will be intertwined with stories of discovery and paths to the diverse array of research careers as told by physician-researchers, fellows, and upper class medical students to help  demonstrate the relevance and importance of research to physicians.


Foundations of Clinical Care Phase

The second course in the 4-year Inquiry Program, this research course highlights various research opportunities and resources at Vanderbilt University. The Discovery course exposes students to the numerous research opportunities and resources at Vanderbilt University as they identify a project and mentor to partner with for the “PLAN: Developing a Research Project” course and ultimately the Research Immersion. The research project experience need not be in the student’s area of clinical interest as the skills developed through the mentored research project are highly transferable. 

PLAN:  Developing a Research Project

Immersion Phase

Formerly known as Research II, this course introduces students to the basic concepts and principles of research and their application to clinical practice and population health in preparation for their Research Immersion. The course provides the necessary research skills and competencies to develop a basic but complete and structured research proposal for the upcoming Research Immersion experience.

Through a series of practical sessions, students will actively engage in the process of developing their own research project (to be carried out during the Immersion phase). This process includes learning and applying basic research concepts to the development of a personalized research project plan. (2016 template)

PLAN encompasses personalized interactions with course instructors in a sequence of small group sessions that aim to provide students with the necessary skills to develop and refine their research projects and to prepare for their subsequent Research Immersion Phase. By the end of the PLAN course, the completed research plan will provide an objective demonstration of the achieved competencies and will serve as a guide for the Research Immersion Phase.

Students will spend a total of 16 hours across 4 small group sessions in this course.


Immersion Phase

All medical students will complete a 3-6 month mentored research project continuing the plans they laid out as part of the “PLAN: Developing a Research Project” course. The research experience need not be in the students’ area of clinical interest as the skills developed through the mentored research project are highly transferable. During their research block(s), it is expected that students participate full-time in their research project, attend weekly Research Area Group meetings, and provide updates both to the research mentor and the Research Area Team. Each Research Area will set forth additional expectations for scholarly outcomes.