New D&I Science Courses

September 30, 2020

Short Courses, Trainings and Informative Classes Help Prepare the Next Generation of WashU D&I Scientists

Photo: James Byard-WUSTL

 

by Kim Furlow, Institute for Public Health

According to the National Institutes of Health, closing the gap between research discovery and clinical and community practice is both a complex challenge and an absolute necessity if we are to ensure that all populations benefit from the nation’s investments in scientific discoveries. To that end, Elvin Geng, MD, MPH, professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the School of Medicine and Director of the Center for Dissemination and Implementation at the Institute for Public Health, has joined forces with a few Institute Faculty Scholars to help WashU offer new curriculum sure to stimulate the minds of D&I students from novice to well-versed practitioner.

“Implementation science was born to decrease the quality gap between what people could receive (high-quality care, evidence-based practices) and what they actually receive,” says Geng. “Unfortunately, despite millions of dollars spent in developing guidelines, treatments, vaccines, and protocols, medicine and public health often do not implement evidence-based interventions in routine care settings. Additionally, a lot of work needs to be done to decrease disparities in healthcare delivery.”

Because D&I is transdisciplinary, practitioners can benefit from multiple perspectives to solve the healthcare quality gap. The following are new courses and trainings designed to offer those multiple perspectives.

Master of Science in Clinical Investigation, (MSCI)

Based at the Clinical Research Training Center (CRTC), MSCI is the largest master’s degree program at WUSTL School of Medicine. The program will now offer a career track in Dissemination and Implementation. The following are a few of the new courses and trainings offered:

Introduction to Dissemination & Implementation Science
Course master: Ana Baumann, PhD

“We are trying a different format than most traditional D&I courses in two ways,” says Ana Baumann, PhD, research assistant professor for the Brown School. “First, this is an online course, with a lot of asynchronous work. Each week, students read papers, watch a short video on the topic and answer weekly questions. Then, we meet to discuss and interact with national leaders in the field. D&I researchers are ‘a village’ and we are very fortunate to have several speakers coming to our class to share their work and interact with our students.”

Baumann says that because students traditionally write research protocols, but are in different developmental stages – from first year PhD to well-established faculty, she has left the work format flexible. The goal is that the final product (i.e., a research protocol or a paper) is useful for all students. “It is my hope that, by being student-centric, the course will allow for all of us to learn together and to have great products at the end of the class. Students will be champions of D&I in their own fields of expertise.”

Methods, Metrics, and Measures for Dissemination and Implementation Research 
Course master: Elvin Geng, MD, MPH

Students will learn epidemiological and experimental methods with distinctive utility for D&I research and key concepts (e.g., adaptation, context) in implementation research. There is a focus on external validity as one of the key challenges to scientific advancement of implementation research. Students study established and emerging approaches to measurement and metrics in D&I as well as emerging metrics.

Developing and Evaluating Implementation Strategies in Health and Social Services
Course master: Byron Powell, PhD, LCSW, assistant professor, Brown School

This course is intended for graduate students, postdocs, staff, and faculty in medicine, social work, public health, and other areas of health science who are interested in developing and/or testing strategies to promote improved implementation of effective health and social service interventions. Read more.

Bi-Annual Short Course/Workshops

The bi-annual short course and workshops are designed for those who are interested in dissemination and implementation research but can’t (or aren’t sure that they want to) dedicate the amount of time it takes for a semester-long course. “Look at it as a starting point for folks who are curious about dissemination and implementation research but don’t know how it applies to their work or how to incorporate the principles,” says Stephanie Mazzucca, PhD, research assistant professor for the Brown School and one of the course instructors. “We’ll present and work through the basics of D&I research, mostly at an introductory level and a focus on showing participants how these concepts can support their current and future research goals.” Mazzucca says participants will come out of the course with a basic understanding of the scope of D&I research as well as where to go within WashU to learn more, whether it’s one of the semester-long courses or one of the many D&I-focused centers and cores.

The short course and workshops are open to anyone in a research-focused position, whether faculty or research staff. Ana Baumann, PhD, Chris Carpenter, MD, MS and Elvin Geng, MD, MPH are additional instructors. Read more.

Register for October workshops!

Mazzucca adds that it’s important for students from multiple disciplines to participate in D&I courses and trainings because it’s a chance to learn how other disciplines are approaching similar problems in a scientifically-rigorous manner and ultimately, improve the translation of evidence into practice. “It always seems like our differences are more prominent than our similarities,” she says. “D&I helps to break down those silos.”

Students interested in any of the new D&I courses or trainings can request more information at crtc@wustl.edu or read more about the Graduate Certificate in Dissemination and Implementation and applicable courses.