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Implementation Science Training is Heating Up…

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In the midst of another week of ninety-degree days (or 30s Celsius if you’re keeping track that way.  Kelvin, anyone?), we’ve been taking some time to reflect on the state of implementation science (IS) training, and the state is very strong. June brought the third cohort of the NCI-funded Mentored Training–Dissemination and Implementation Research in Cancer (MT-DIRC), led by Ross Brownson of Washington University-St. Louis, where I had the chance to see the progress of the 2015 trainees in their final year of the program and meet the 2016 fellows who are poised to lead the next generation of implementation science studies across the cancer continuum. MT-DIRC and its sibling mental health oriented institute IRI have grown from experience of course leadership running a combined 8 years of summer courses with many of the same core faculty that have led the five years of our Training Institute for Dissemination and Implementation Research in Health (TIDIRH). 

Speaking of TIDIRH, if it was any of the past five years, we would be either in the midst of or in final preparations for a week in an esteemed university somewhere in the US, where 40 fellows would join us for an intensive five-day experience of training, mentoring, new collaborations, and the occasional theme song. This year, while we continue to learn from the experiences of the more than 200 fellows who have participated (and follow their progress), we will be testing out a modified version of our course, to be held concurrently with the annual D&I research conference in DC in December (abstracts accepted through August 4th!).  We have learned a great deal from our collaborative global IS efforts (led by Cindy Vinson and Sudha Sivaram, along with Sarah Bernal) that have combined webinars and online discussion with a face-to-face meeting at the conclusion, a model we will be trying out for TIDIRH this winter. Details coming soon.

The four master’s-level courses have brought to a worldwide set of trainees’ core modules including implementation science models, research designs, the challenge of fidelity versus adaptation, and measures, helping investigators to advance their nascent applications to improve health and health care globally.  The online discussions, which have occurred in conjunction with faculty office hours on a dedicated website, have enabled feedback on individual study ideas to come not only from the course faculty but from the trainees as well.  We have all learned a lot through the process.

We are also enthusiastic about related training that we are conducting within the NIH this summer, where we’re bringing in leaders in the field to help build capacity among agency program staff in implementation science.  This, we feel, will not only help to better support the extramural investigators, but will stimulate increased capacity across multiple Institutes and centers, possibly leading to improved coordination among IS activities and clinical and community-oriented research more generally. 

All of these efforts owe much to you in the field who have continued to build new resources, new knowledge and new enthusiasm to better conduct the studies that lead to a much greater impact of our research on health and health care.  We encourage you to share additional IS training activities that you are involved in and generate more thinking about how we can best meet the needs of our growing field.