The UCF College of Medicine welcomed 100 new medical students this summer and many chose UCF for its innovative curriculum, including the Focused Inquiry and Research Experience (FIRE) program. This two-year course gives students the opportunity to pursue research related to their medical studies and eventual career choices.
While some students choose projects in traditional biomedical or clinical disciplines, many look into other medically-related areas including Creative and Performing Arts, Engineering, Computer, Physical and Social Sciences, and Health Administration and Policy. To satisfy these interests and encourage students to pursue interdisciplinary research, the medical school is seeking faculty members with complementary interests to serve as research mentors.
Faculty members may express their interest by completing a brief survey at FIRE Mentor Interest Survey or by copying and pasting the following URL into their internet browser: https://ucfcom.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_0Sv3T5cvWZyyLsh . Completing this survey will ensure a faculty member is invited to a Meet the Mentor event planned for mid-September, is placed in the mentor directory provided to students, and is included in future communications and information sessions about the FIRE module.
The FIRE program is similar in some ways to traditional student research programs and different in other ways. The first year includes class time on fundamentals of research design and statistics followed by time-linked milestones to guide students in producing a research plan and moving forward. In the second year, students reach further milestones, culminating in a final research poster presentation.
Some students complete their projects early and continue to work with their mentors on additional research. Many elect to continue working into their third and fourth years.
Students have presented their results at national professional meetings and several have papers accepted in peer-reviewed journals. Time constraints are a challenge of the FIRE program. Medical students carry a heavy course load and must integrate the research into a demanding curriculum schedule. It is very important that students be able to consult with their research mentors regularly to ensure they are making satisfactory progress and acquiring the necessary intellectual skills to gain a meaningful experience. The Medical School expects to continue the practice of providing a budget of $2,500 for each student to help defray costs of the research and travel to a meeting to present results.
The FIRE module is a unique opportunity for UCF medical students to gain first-hand research experience. Faculty mentorship is a key component to student success. For more information, please contact Module Directors Dr. Diane Jacobs (Diane.Jacobs@ucf.edu) or Dr. Stephen Berman (Stephen.Berman@ucf.edu) or Module Coordinator Elizabeth Smock (Elizabeth.Smock@ucf.edu).