Harvard-wide Pediatric Health Services Research Fellowship | Program Components

Curriculum and research environment

Our fellowship provides a structured learning and research environment to ensure that fellows develop competency in core areas of health services research, with a focus on the learning health system research competencies. These topics include:

  • Biostatistics, epidemiology, and study design
  • Primary data collection methods
  • Analysis of large observational databases
  • Comparative effectiveness research methods
  • Fundamentals of quality and safety
  • Key partner engagement in all steps of research
  • Skills in communication, team membership, and leadership
  • Implementation science frameworks, heterogeneity of effects, equitable implementation, and context
  • Quality and safety measurement, and benchmarking
  • Health equity research including assessing inequities, multilevel factors, and measurement tools
  • Behavioral and social sciences methods to influence actions of providers, patients, and families
  • Examination of IT applications that improve the coordination of care, decision support, and patient safety
  • Health policy, economics, and decision science
  • Use of geographic information system in HSR
  • Jargon-free scientific communication for key partner engagement and dissemination to stakeholders, including patients and families, policy makers, the public, and media
  • Responsible conduct, ethics, the role of review boards, and HIPAA requirements

Training and oversight is conducted at three noted research sites:

Each fellow is assigned to the site that best fits their research and mentoring needs, but all trainees meet together weekly. Our leadership team has achieved seamless integration across these sites and built an exceptionally collegial learning environment — a true “fellowship.” First-year fellows learn directly by watching second-year fellows go through the process of narrowing their focus, beginning job searches, negotiating positions, and embarking on the next steps of their careers. We believe that the mutual support that trainees enjoy in our fellowship is critical to their longer term success.

Structured learning opportunities

  • Coursework at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, leading to an MPH or equivalent degree.
  • Weekly program seminars: We host weekly seminars ranging on a variety of topics including works-in-progress seminars, faculty seminars in HSR focused on methodological issues, and skills seminars. Seminars create a curious, questioning, and collaborative environment.
  • Works in Progress Sessions: The Works in Progress system enables regular, thoughtful, specific research project feedback from parents, faculty, and fellows. Our program plan includes a unique 10-year history of highly engaged parent faculty. Each fellow presents a research project to peers, research faculty, and parent faculty at least three times over the course of each year. Fellows articulate three questions to focus the feedback of the group, including one specifically addressed to the parent faculty, such as “is this line of research important to you or other parents; if not how can I adjust?” or “do you think parents will be comfortable answering questions about… ?” In this way, each fellow receives feedback from parents on their research at least three times a year and learns to habitually seek feedback on their research from key stakeholders. Early presentations focus on study design; later ones emphasize data analysis, rehearsal for platform or poster presentations, and publication and preparation for the next step in this line of research (e.g. career award planning). Discussions generally focus on methodological issues that arise across the variety of research topics and designs that our fellows conduct.

Personalized mentoring

Mentorship is a key component of our program. Senior, interdisciplinary mentor teams help ensure that fellows meet key milestones, including:

  • The design and execution of at least two studies, one involving analysis of a large existing database and the other involving a personally designed study with primary data collection
  • Presentation of results at local and national meetings, and completion of manuscripts
  • A specific plan for developing a career development award or other independent funding

We also understand that mentoring does not end with graduation from our program. Our faculty members routinely maintain mentoring relationships with fellows who stay at Harvard, as well as those who relocate to other institutions. The positive experience we’ve had with mentorships has resulted in a growing alumni network.

Access to vast resources

Our extensive, committed core and affiliated faculty provide fellows access to an extraordinary array of well-supported mentors across multiple disciplines.

In addition, the Harvard-wide structure of the program is able to provide:

  • A real-world context for research, as a result of direct engagement with healthcare delivery in our hospitals, community practice sites, extended delivery systems, and health plans.
  • Access to large defined populations, their providers, and related clinical, administrative, and claims-based databases, and to senior researchers experienced in their use.