Preparing the Next Generation of Academic Researchers During the Pandemic: Lessons from a National Mental Health Research Postdoctoral Fellowship

Nathan C. Hantke, Viktoriya Samarina, Joachim Hallmayer, Lauren Anker, Ruth O’Hara, Sherry A. Beaudreau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: The COVID-19 pandemic has severely disrupted all aspects of academic medicine, including post-doctoral research fellowship training. The current survey examined ways in which research fellows across 28 U.S. nationally diverse sites have been impacted. Methods: Survey participants included 62 M.D. and Ph.D. post-doctoral fellows and 27 local fellowship center directors within the Veterans Affairs (VA) Advanced Fellowship in Mental Illness Research and Treatment (MIRT), a national fellowship program tasked to develop academic clinician researchers within the field of mental health. Survey questions focused on productivity and challenges experienced by fellows during the pandemic. Results: Half of fellows reported working entirely off-site during the COVID-19 pandemic. All fellows reported some level of disruption in productivity during the pandemic; 73% reported a disruption in data collection, 69% reported decreased scholarly output, 41% reported disruption in grant writing, and 73% reported disruption in ability to provide clinical care. Yet, the majority of fellows (66%) reported not having to change their research goals, pivoting to telehealth-based data collection, and employing extant data for research projects and peer-reviewed publications. Conclusions: The results of the fellow and director surveys highlight the associated disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic on fellowship-related activities and parallel ingenuity of programs to continue conducting research and clinical services in a modified fashion. While many research goals continued unabated, the findings suggest alterations in data collection methodology and a focus on using extant data, which may have a residual influence on future early career research grant applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAcademic Psychiatry
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • COVID-19, Post-doctoral fellowship
  • Research education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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