Mentoring Medical Students for Research in the Medical Humanities


The Clendening-King Summer Research Fellowship

The Clendening-King Summer Research Fellowship (CSF) is a program of the Department of History & Philosophy of Medicine at the University of Kansas School of Medicine (KU-SOM). Dr. Tarris Rosell, Rosemary Flanigan Chair at the Center for Practical Bioethics, in a contractual relationship with KU-SOM, has served for a decade as Co-Director of CSF. The program provides opportunity for mentored student research in the medical humanities, including bioethics. While funding is typically available to stipend at $2,800 up to 10 medical students moving from their first to second years (M1-M2), the School of Medicine has secured funding in 2022 sufficient for 13 new fellows.

Year-Round and Around the World

The Clendening-King Summer Fellowship is misnamed relative to when student and faculty work commences and concludes. Promotion and inquiries begin during the fall semester of the M1 year, with proposal writing workshops in December and January. Proposals are prepared in January for a February 1 due date, and successful applicants are informed of their fellowship opportunity prior to March 1. At that point, most fellows will begin collaborating with faculty mentors to prepare their research protocols for submission to the Institutional Review Board (IRB). The IRB may exempt the study from review or conduct a thorough review for adequate human subjects protection. This is an ethically necessary, and also onerous, process of significant learning for young researchers for whom it is almost always a new experience.

Preparations are also being made throughout the spring semester for the intensity of research activities to be carried out mostly during the summer months of June-August. Prior to the COVID pandemic, many Clendening fellows traveled internationally to conduct their research. In 2020 and 2021, none of our fellows were able to do so due to public health restrictions. In 2022, it is anticipated that 2 of 13 fellows will work in an international context, both in India. One CSF fellow will do research both in Kansas City and New York City. Another will do research with indigenous populations of Northeast Kansas, so regionally. The rest will be based in Kansas City.

Topics Reflect Interest in Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

While all CSF funded research must be of relevance to medical humanities, that broad umbrella allows for a good bit of diversity of research interests and methods. CSF 2022 will see fellows engaging in the following areas of research:
• Assessing the impact on African American smokers of banning menthol and other tobacco flavoring
• End-of-life counseling training and reduction of moral injury among organ transplantation providers
• Studying disparities in healthcare among burn patients, based on race, gender, socioeconomic status, and geographic location
• Using narrative approaches to study the phenomena referred to as “challenging” or “difficult” patients
• Analysis of the desegregation events occurring at KU School of Medicine in the early to mid-20th century
• Studying phenomenologically the “lived experiences” of individuals with thalassemia in Eastern India
• Analyzing differences in India between Western medicine and Siddha medicine in approaches to treatment of polycystic ovarian syndrome
• Gathering sociocultural narratives of heart disease management in indigenous communities of Northeast Kansas
• Looking at quality improvement for prioritization of postpartum depression resources for women with adverse childhood experiences
• Assessing healthcare barriers reported in a “photovoice” project with Congolese refugees in Kansas City
• Conducting a phenomenological examination of the “construction of reality” by early Alzheimer’s patients
• Tracing the evolving moral landscape of sexually transmitted diseases in public health art of the 20th century
• Studying the history of mental and intelligence screening at the Ellis Island Immigration Center during the late-19th and early-20th centuries

Fall Presentations

Each of these student research projects bode well for much learning and producing publishable knowledge. All fellows will present their work in public presentations to be scheduled at the School of Medicine in late October and early November 2022.

It is a privilege for the Center for Practical Bioethics to be involved with the KU School of Medicine in mentoring the next generation of physician researchers for work in the medical humanities.

Tarris Rosell, PhD, DMin
Rosemary Flanigan Chair at the Center for Practical Bioethics
Co-Director, Clendening Summer Fellowship
Clinical Professor, Dept of History & Philosophy of Medicine, KU School of Medicine

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