The overall goal of the FLEX Phase is to provide the student with rich, engaging research experience provided through a mentored relationship with a faculty member in either the clinical or basic sciences. The FLEX research experience runs from March 9, 2019 to June 5, 2019. A successful research experience is one that is rewarding to both the student and the mentor with, as one desired outcome, progress toward a publication co-authored with the student.
The research mentor guides the student in creating a hypothesis-driven research question(s) with defined goals and specific aims. While the research question may not be fully answered during the student’s tenure in their lab, significant progress toward these goals is expected during the 13-week time frame of the FLEX Phase. The overall hypothesis and aims of the project should be defined prior to the student joining the lab. The research question may be novel for the mentor’s lab or it may be that the student becomes involved in an ongoing project. In some respects, the latter is desirable because progress toward publication of the scholarly work can occur in a reasonable time frame considering the FLEX Phase is only 13 weeks in duration.
The mentor and the student should collaborate in describing the question, hypothesis and aims and submit this information in the appropriate folder in the College of Medicine FLEX Pathways course website.
The student’s participation in the FLEX Phase research project is considered a full-time research experience and therefore, a minimum of 40-hour per week of research is expected, with an additional 5 hours per week dedicated to research curriculum and service learning activities. The exact schedule and hours per day will be determined by the mentor and is often guided by the project. Some projects will require a greater time-investment by the student, which may include “off” hours (evenings, weekends, holidays, etc.). Indeed, this is the very nature of research projects.
Frequent meetings between the mentor and student throughout the 13-week FLEX Phase are very important and strongly encouraged. This provides the necessary guidance the student needs to make continuous progress and have a successful research experience. For basic science projects, this could be in the form of weekly one-on-one sessions and/or participation in scheduled lab meetings with the entire lab. For clinical sciences projects or other projects, it may be in the clinical space, or other one-on-one options.
As documentation of the student’s progress, there will be three brief progress reports that the student will need to complete and uploaded into the course website. Mentors will need to review the reports and assess/confirm the progress. These reports are meant to help the student stay on track during the course of the research project.
At the culmination of the FLEX Phase, there will be a Dean’s FLEX Fair and each student across all four tracks (Research, Global Heath, Health Humanities, and Physician as Teacher) will present their scholarly work in either poster or oral format. The presentation should be 5-10 minutes in length and will be held each year on the final day of the FLEX Phase. The inaugural FLEX Fair will take place on June 5, 2020.