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AHRQ steps up efforts to develop and train a talented pool of health services researchers

Any meaningful improvement in health care access, cost, and quality in the United States requires a sufficiently large and skilled group of health care researchers, asserts John M. Eisenberg, M.D., Director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. In a recent article, Dr. Eisenberg, Francis D. Chesley, M.D., Director of AHRQ's Office of Research Review, Education and Policy, and Karen A. Rudzinski, Ph.D., Director of AHRQ's Division of Research Education, outline efforts by AHRQ to build a community of health services researchers.

In FY 2000 alone, the Agency funded more than 80 training and career development grants for a total of more than $9 million. AHRQ also has increased funding for dissertation research, initiated fellowships for minority predoctoral students (who traditionally are underrepresented in the research community), created career development opportunities for new investigators, and provided enhanced coverage for training-related expenses designed to build a community among trainees in the programs.

The Agency, through National Research Service Award (NRSA) training grants, supports 24 education centers of excellence. In 1998, AHRQ added the Innovative Incentive Award program to the NRSA institutional training program. The award program provides seed money for institutions to develop innovative curricula, form new training partnerships, and institute other novel approaches to education. In the near future, AHRQ will begin outreach programs to support infrastructure development in institutions that provide services to underserved minorities or serve geographic areas with historically low success rates for applications submitted for AHRQ-funded research grants.

AHRQ also has expanded online access through the Internet to materials describing the training programs and encouraging contacts, providing links to university sites, and offering electronic copies of government policies and forms. These and other efforts are designed to enhance the research infrastructure needed to improve all aspects of health care quality and cost, use, and access.

See "Building a community of health services research training," by Drs. Chesley, Rudzinski, and Eisenberg, in the December 2000 Health Services Research 35(5), pp. xi-xvii.

Reprints (AHRQ Publication No. 01-R031) are available from AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse.

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