Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation

Resident Research Training Program

The goal and purpose of the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab's Resident Research Training Program is to integrate a practical research experience with basic science education and clinical patient care. This is accomplished through didactic lectures, careful research mentoring by experienced physician researchers, PhD-level basic scientists and allied health professionals and exposure to a rich clinical environment within which to carry out medically related research activities.

All resident physicians at the AbilityLab are expected to participate in the Resident Research Program and are required to produce a research paper of publishable quality in order to qualify for graduation from their three-year training program. Research projects may explore a variety of rehabilitation related topics in the form of a detailed literature review, case study, innovative device design, retrospective study, prospective study or a basic laboratory investigation. Residents are urged to use the most comprehensive research design possible in order to gain the widest research experience and maximize the quality of their research project within realistic budget and time constraints. Presentation of projects at national research meetings and publication within peer reviewed journals is strongly encouraged to further enhance the resident's experience and career advancement, but are not required for graduation.

Didactic research education is provided through two venues. Research papers from the published literature are presented and critiqued by resident physicians at a weekly Journal Club under the supervision of attending physicians with expertise in the topic area. Resident physicians also attend lectures covering basic statistical analysis, clinical research design, data management techniques, research ethics, scientific writing and critical review of scientific literature. These didactics provide practical information that will help residents design, implement and complete their individual research projects. The Resident Research Committee, chaired by the Director of Resident Research, acts to support resident researchers and their mentors by providing resources for research activities and overseeing the Resident Research Program. All residents are required to submit a research proposal to the committee for review within the first nine months of residency. The committee provides written feedback and recommendations to each resident that may help improve the quality of research projects.

The Shirley Ryan AbilityLab Research Day is held annually and provides an opportunity for all residents to present their research projects to the Rehabilitation Institute and Medical School community.

Research Paper Requirements

A. All residents are required to submit a completed research paper of publishable quality to the medical education office prior to completion of residency training.

B. The research paper must be on a topic in physical medicine and rehabilitation in any of the following forms:

  • Case study with comprehensive literature review of the topic
  • Comprehensive literature review of a rehabilitation topic
  • Innovative device design
  • Retrospective chart review
  • Prospective clinical study
  • Basic laboratory study

C. The research paper must be written by the resident. It is understood that the mentor may be first author on the manuscript, but there should be evidence that the resident had a significant contribution to the project.

D. Though presentation of papers at national meetings or publication is encouraged, it is not a requirement.