APSA works with ACEP to recruit Emergency Care Research mentors for physician-scientist trainees
Share |

The following article was recently published in the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) Research Section Newsletter to recruit Emergency Care Research mentors for APSA members. APSA members interested in learning more about a career in Emergency Medicine can contact Stephanie Jackson or Dr. Amy Kaji for more information.

By Stephanie R. Jackson, MS and Amy Kaji, MD, PhD
© 2014 American College of Emergency Physicians. Reprinted with permission

Formal training in basic research has never been more accessible for medical students. There are currently 43 institutions with NIH-funded Medical Scientist Training Programs (MSTPs), 75 offering formal MD/PhD training paths, and 7 with DO/PhD programs [1]. Thus, the number of research-trained applicants for post-graduate medical training is higher than ever. Yet, physician-scientists performing basic research constitute only a small subset of emergency care researchers, perhaps because the intersection of emergency medicine and basic science is not as intuitive as its intersection with clinical outcomes, public health, and public policy. However, at its core, emergency care research relies on time-sensitive diagnostic information and interventions. Thus, research aimed at elucidating the basic cellular, tissue, and systemic foundation of disease provides knowledge instrumental to identifying better markers, targets, and therapeutics needed to improve outcomes for patients requiring acute intervention or care decisions.

The specialty of emergency medicine has a growing interest in recruiting physicians committed to academic research-based careers, and the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) is collaborating with the American Physician Scientists Association (APSA) to raise awareness of the myriad research opportunities that exist in emergency medicine among medical student trainees interested in research-oriented careers. When evaluating the potential impact of physician-scientist trainee recruitment to emergency medicine, it is critical to keep in mind that their experience cultivates analytical and practical skillsets that are broadly applicable, and which ultimately stand to benefit the continuum of basic and clinical emergency care research.

The purpose of this article is to introduce ACEP members to APSA, which is a student-led nonprofit organization dedicated to the training and career development of future physician-scientists. The organization consists of over 1,200 members at more than 115 US institutions, as well as in 9 other countries. Members are predominantly MD/PhD or DO/PhD trainees (75%), but a substantial and growing cohort are traditional MD or DO candidates (13%) and undergraduates (4%) with an interest in academic and research-based careers. Through its Partnership Initiative, APSA is working with specialty-oriented groups, such as ACEP, to connect its members with additional information about training, research, career, and funding opportunities.

Just as recruitment of trainees with basic research training may not seem intuitive to practicing emergency physicians, emergency medicine is currently not among the top fields that physician-scientist trainees consider entering. Exposure to established emergency care researchers is the best way to increase trainees’ perception of emergency medicine as a viable career option, and one such mechanism to facilitate this is by increasing visibility and mentoring by emergency care researchers.

Each spring, APSA hosts an annual meeting in conjunction with the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI) and the Association of American Physicians (AAP). This year, the annual meeting will be held April 25-27 in Chicago, where over 350 physician-scientist trainees will meet with established investigators for mentorship and career guidance. Historically, emergency medicine has been underrepresented at the meeting, but in recent years, support provided by ACEP and the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine (SAEM) has increased its visibility through speaker sponsorships and provision of mentors.

While the annual meeting is APSA’s largest event, financial and other considerations prevent a sizeable cohort of trainees from attending. Thus, APSA hosts smaller regional meetings, as well as web-based interest group communities to increase the accessibility of these resources. Like the annual meeting, these efforts would benefit substantially from mentorship and support of emergency care researchers.

In addition to increased participation in APSA events and initiatives, ACEP and APSA are working together to increase the presence of physician-scientist trainees at ACEP-sponsored events. Specifically, the ACEP Research Forum is being promoted as a forum in which physician-scientist trainees can gain visibility by presenting their research findings, interact with established emergency care researchers, and publish their abstracts in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.

If you would like to learn more about the collaboration between APSA and ACEP, or would like to become a mentor to a physician-scientist trainee or get involved in their recruitment to emergency medicine by participating in a regional APSA meeting, please contact Amy Kaji.


  1. Preusch, Peter (2013, Nov 11). Medical Scientist Training Program. National Institute of General Medical Sciences. Retrieved January 12, 2014 from http://www.nigms.nih.gov/Training/InstPredoc/Pages/PredocOverview-MSTP.aspx.

Contributing Author Information

Stephanie Jackson is an MD/PhD candidate at Saint Louis University School of Medicine. She currently serves as Vice President of the American Physician Scientists Association (APSA) and chairs the APSA Partnership Initiative.

Amy Kaji, MD, PhD is an Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine at Harbor-UCLA Department of Emergency Medicine and Director of the South Bay Disaster Resource Center. She also serves on the Research Committee of the American College of Emergency Physicians and is the society’s liaison to APSA.