In recent years, Dartmouth Medical School has increased its commitment to educational research within the school, and in collaboration with other schools across the country. Passionate faculty members with ideas and expertise in particular curricular areas are one critical component needed for a successful educational research program. Other components include an atmosphere that fosters research collaborations and mentoring, and various types of institutional support structures. This same model has effectively supported basic science and clinical research for decades. Because of the complexities involved in studying medical education, Dartmouth Medical School has invested in support structures for educational grant and manuscript development, financial support for pilot projects and partial salary support for investigators and key staff members, and other support targeted toward specific research projects. Ultimately, the goal is to use the results of the school's educational research projects to improve the curriculum through cycles of hypothesis development and testing, providing evidence for subsequent curricular change. When some research findings are relevant and applicable for use in other medical schools, that is an additional benefit of the educational research process. In this report, the authors describe the development of Dartmouth Medical School's infrastructure for supporting educational research, which has helped to accelerate the educational research productivity teaching faculty now enjoy. The authors also address some of the challenges that they anticipate in the near future.
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