GW SMHS Awarded Prestigious National Research Service Award (T32) Grant to Train Postdoctoral Health Care Professionals Planning to Pursue Primary Care Research Careers
The George Washington University (GW) School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) was recently awarded a T32 Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award institutional research training grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services focused on health care for individuals who are geographically isolated and/or economically or medically vulnerable. With more than $1.7 million from HRSA, the program will prepare and support postdoctoral health professionals at GW to pursue careers in biomedical and behavioral health research related to primary care. “As the nation’s population grows and ages, the need for well-trained primary care researchers to study the complex array of issues facing the primary care workforce gains greater importance,” according to HRSA.
“A T32 award is a measure of excellence in research training and brings great reputational value to GW,” said Barbara L. Bass, MD, GW vice president for health affairs, Dean of the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences and CEO for the GW Medical Faculty Associates. “Primary care is the foundation of any health care system, and the postdoctoral fellows in this program and their faculty mentors will tackle critical primary care issues and seek to advance health equity with an approach built on interprofessional collaboration and partnership with our community,” added Bass.
The GW Primary Care Research Training (P-CART) Program will be led by Principal Investigator (PI) Reamer L. Bushardt, PharmD, PA-C, DFAAPA, professor of PA Studies and senior associate dean for health sciences, and co-director Trudy Mallinson, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, associate professor of clinical research and leadership and associate dean for health sciences in SMHS. Bushardt, who is a pharmacist and PA in primary care, also serves as PI of the HRSA-funded GW Health Careers Opportunity Program, Co-Director of the NIH-funded Clinical and Translational Science Institute at Children’s National, and a senior investigator for a SAMHSA-funded Expansion of Practitioner Education in Substance Use Disorder program.
The GW P-CART program will target several issues that HRSA has identified as clinical and workforce priorities in primary care. The program is also responding to regional and national health priorities and is also taking steps to address investigator shortages, research knowledge and skills gaps, and insufficient diversity within the primary care research workforce.
“Over the past decade, primary care research has led to new developments and innovations in training, team-based care, scope of care, therapeutics, and payment models. Health care researchers are also doing better to ensure their work is well informed by the essential perspectives of the patients and families, health care teams, and communities it seeks to impact,” noted Bushardt. He added, “Frustratingly, many of these innovations and evidence-based practices do not get universally adopted into practice or experience long implementation delays. When we designed P-CART, we considered these long delays and implementation barriers and have adopted strategies to overcome these barriers and improve how we partner with the community to conduct research, translate findings, and enhance evidence-based practice.”
Over the grant period, the project will support 2-year research fellowships for around 10 postdoctoral trainees from an array of educational backgrounds, including PhD students in translational science and doctoral-level health professionals like physicians, nurses, physical and occupational therapists, and public health professionals. Program activities include mentored research, formal and informal training, and career development activities that lead to dissemination of research findings, grant submissions, and entry into research careers. Trainees partner with GW faculty to design individualized training and career development plans as well as complete coursework customized for their goals and primary care research interests.
Mallinson shared, “This project is possible because GW is a campus that embraces interdisciplinary collaboration and an enthusiastic group of partners is supporting us, including the GW Schools of Medicine and Health Sciences, Public Health, and Nursing, the GW Medical Faculty Associates, the GW Hospital and the Katzen Cancer Center, Children’s National Hospital, and numerous members of the community across public and private sector organizations interested in strengthening primary care and advancing health equity.” Representatives of these groups will form a Community Partners Advisory Council to advise the P-CART team, help recruit and mentor trainees, and support the evaluation and overall success of the program. The program team will work closely with Alison Hall, PhD, associate dean for research workforce development in SMHS and a national leader in research workforce development.