The REDIH experience: an emerging design to develop an effective training program for graduate students in reproductive science
Colla J MacDonald,1 Douglas Archibald,2 Jay M Baltz,3 Gerald M Kidder4
1Faculty of Education, 2Department of Family Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, Canada; 3Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Ottawa, ON, Canada; 4Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Western Ontario, London, ON, Canada
Background: A training program in Reproduction, Early Development, and the Impact on Health (REDIH) was initiated in 2009 by researchers specializing in biomedical, clinical, population health, and ethics research from seven collaborating universities in Quebec and Ontario, and Health Canada. This paper reports the findings from the first three years of the 6-year program.
Objectives: The objective of the REDIH program is to provide increased opportunities for excellent training in reproduction and early development for graduate students and fellows, in order to build research, clinical, regulatory, decision-making, and industry capacity in Canada.
Methods: A mixed methods approach was used to evaluate the REDIH training program, so as to combine the strengths of both qualitative and quantitative studies. A total of four focus groups (two with mentors and two with trainees) were run during the June 2012 REDIH meeting. Surveys were administered directly after each training module. The W(e)Learn framework was used as a guide to design and evaluate the program and answer the research questions.
Results: The data from the analysis of the focus group interviews, in corroboration with the survey data, suggested trainees enjoyed and benefited from the REDIH experience. Trainees provided several examples of new knowledge and skills they had acquired from REDIH sessions, regarding reproductive and early developmental biology, and health. A few trainees who had been in the program for over a year provided examples of knowledge and skills acquired during the REDIH session that they were using in their place of work. Next steps will include following up on REDIH graduates to see if the program has had any impact on trainees' employment opportunities and career development.
Conclusion: Trainees and mentors concluded that the curricular design, which focuses on modules in 2-day learning sessions over a 6-year period, with opportunities for application in the workplace, enabled the sessions to be tailored to the outcomes of the formative evaluation. By sharing our experiences with REDIH, we hope that others can benefit from this unique emerging design, which focuses on the flexibility and receptivity of the mentors, and results in a program that lends itself to curriculum modification and tailoring as learners' needs are solicited and addressed.
Keywords: graduate training, mentorship program, program evaluation, reproductive medicine
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