Starting residency, I knew that my academic CV was meager and I humbly accepted that I would probably need to do research. But my exposure up until this point included a few chart reviews and killing rats in college. It seemed like everyone else knew how to prepare for their research time and wasn’t just skipping over the methods sections of papers. I had some clear research interests and I was lucky enough to find a mentor who helped me to learn how to think like a scientist. There was just one issue left, I would need to find funding for my salary, Masters Degree, and research itself. The adage of “follow the money,” is mostly true, and in many ways is a far more realistic version of academic medicine. Finding a way to convince others of why they should invest in your research aspirations takes a fair bit of time and energy. This seemed daunting, but now that I am on the other side, I am so grateful for this experience.
There are several reasons why you should consider applying for a research grant as a resident:
- Exposure to the grant-writing process. There is definitely a secret handshake.
- Discernment. If you are committed to becoming a lifelong surgeon-scientist, you need to know what this process feels like. This is a big part of a scientist’s career.
- Define your research aims and training goals. There is no better way to elucidate your research question, than to write it out formally. You will understand your science so much better and your two years of academic development time will be far more productive if you have a clear plan ahead of time.
- Prestige. Getting a grant is a big deal!
The AAS Clinical and Health Services Research Committee realized that there was not a comprehensive resource for finding research opportunities. We hope this Research Primer serves as a starting point and framework to better understand which grant mechanisms are available to you and how to explore them. Additionally, as resident members, we organized the various mechanisms, such as federal post-doctoral research fellowships and societal grants like the AAS/AASF Trainee Research Fellowship Awards. These are presented along with their deadlines, specific funding details, and timing of grant. This is a working document, and we welcome your feedback.