Development and Implementation of Training for Interdisciplinary Research in Primary Health Care
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The authors describe a national training program in Canada focusing on research in primary health care (PHC). The program, sponsored by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research's Strategic Training in Health Research Program, is called Transdisciplinary Understanding and Training on Research–Primary Health Care (TUTOR-PHC); it began in 2002 and is funded to continue until 2015. The purpose-built curriculum has two main goals: (1) to build a cadre of skilled, independent researchers to enhance the evidence base for PHC practice and policy and (2) to increase the interdisciplinary focus in PHC research. The program consists of three elements: (1) a three-day on-site symposium, (2) four online workshops (three weeks each), and (3) two online interdisciplinary discussion groups (seven weeks each). Participants develop PHC research skills during in-person and online workshops. They gain knowledge of and experience in interdisciplinary PHC research through participation in interdisciplinary discussion groups and by observing mentor interactions. Both the symposium and the online components involve a variety of interactive education approaches. The 77 graduates from across Canada represent 14 disciplines, most commonly family medicine, nursing, epidemiology, psychology, social work, and sociology. Graduates of the program publish at a high rate and are building their careers in PHC research. The structure of TUTOR-PHC encourages not only skill development and content uptake but also the exchange of tacit knowledge. The complete program leads to a synthesis of skills, knowledge, personal communication abilities, and cross-discipline curiosity, creating a well-rounded collaborative PHC researcher.