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Implementation science training development(s)

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Over the years, we have covered ongoing training efforts in different editions of this newsletter. If you've missed past discussions, you can read a broad picture of the various training programs, a recap of the five previous years of the Training Institute in Dissemination and Implementation Research (TIDIRH), and more about last year’s effort to transition to a hybrid online/in-person training design. I have been supporting different aspects of the trainings we offer for a number of years and have had the pleasure of developing content, building our learning community websites, managing both online and in-person sessions, and receiving and integrating feedback from participants.

In my three plus years with the Implementation Science (IS) team, we have put forward 70+ webinars for both researchers and practitioners (and any combination thereof) via the Research to Reality and Advanced Topics in Implementation Science webinar series; held internal NCI and NIH training opportunities to enhance the knowledge base of colleagues; and completed four training cycles (three international, one domestic) aimed at training researchers in implementation science at all career stages. We have been expanding our ability to deliver engaging content on a technological platform as a means of piloting delivery mechanisms for distance training opportunities. The goal of this particular blog is to solicit additional feedback about the various training experiences of our readership in and outside of implementation science, best practices, innovative strategies, etc.

The focus on distance training was born out of several collaborations between our team, NCI’s Center for Global Health, the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS), and the World Health Organization. In 2014 and again in 2016, we delivered two one-day pre-conference workshops to researchers attending the UICC World Cancer Congress titled “Dissemination and Implementation (D&I) Research, Principles and Practice.” These meetings followed several months of online assignments and discussion. Both of these trainings provided an introduction to the field of implementation science, laying the groundwork for developing implementation science research proposals.

Through the development of this series, we settled on an effective time frame (3-4 months) and number of modules (6-7) to deliver in any given training. We also modified the initial objective to be more research submission specific, requiring trainees to submit a research proposal that is then workshopped throughout the training course(s). Trainees revise and expand their research aims in response to feedback and ultimately produce a proposal suitable for any number of IS funding opportunities.

In each of the past two years, the IS team expanded the global trainings we’ve supported through partnerships with USAID’s Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research (PEER) for regional cohorts. The 2015 South East Asia cohort and the 2016 Middle East North Africa (MENA) cohort had researchers drawn from specific regions of the globe to advance implementation science proposals, anchored around six modules of content, delivered via our learning community:

1.     Introduction to Implementation Science

2.     Dissemination and Implementation Models

3.     Measurement and Evaluation

4.     Fidelity and Adaption

5.     Designs

6.     Practical Dissemination & Implementation

Anecdotally, we have found improved outcomes in these efforts, as it appeared participants were able to unite around shared languages, cultural experiences, and discussion of common contextual research facilitators and barriers in their settings. It was from the success of these trainings that we decided to pilot the 2016 TIDIRH with 50 trainees as a combination online and in-person workshop.

Though analysis of the TIDIRH evaluation data is still underway, I do know that some of our successes were based on the amount and quality of work trainees were asked to complete prior to arriving in Washington. Feedback indicated trainees felt that they were better able to dive into workshop lectures and group work as opposed to being exposed to all new concepts from the outset. The curriculum for TIDIRH 2016 used similar modules including an introduction, models, measures, designs, fidelity & adaptation, and then an open session for direct engagement. As I think through what future iterations might look like, I’d consider adding online modules on scale up and sustainability, as well as a session on de-implementation. These priority areas are often our most engaging conversations as a group, and I’d be curious if you think they should be added to our standard set of modules.

I want to take this opportunity to thank the individuals who donated their time to deliver webinars, respond to inquiries in the learning communities, mentor trainees, and join us at in-person workshops to help make these efforts successful. Your time and energy has been an integral part in launching successful training initiatives, and your various perspectives have helped to identify gaps where we will need to improve, adjust, and/or make our efforts more sustainable.

In particular, I am interested to hear your feedback on content areas for our training modules, as well as successful and unsuccessful trainings you have been a part of. What worked, didn’t work, and why? Are there training gaps in areas of implementation science that we should prioritize in the future?  

Additionally, I appreciate that there is a limitation in the of amount of trainings offered per year and the number of trainees accepted. What would be helpful for those who are unable to make TIDIRH work for their schedules? What kinds of resources and materials would you like to see if a more formalized training opportunity isn’t the route you’d be interested in pursuing?

Or, if you have completed any number of the implementation science training options (IRI, MT-DIRC, TIDIRH), what do next steps look like for you?

Looking forward to hearing your comments.