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Introduction to the Research in Medical Education Unit


The Research in Medical Education (RIME) unit has been in existence since January 2016.  We are part of the Dean’s Office of Educational Affairs.  Our mission is to promote educational research and scholarship for IUSM.  I serve as the Director of this unit, overseeing a team of 4 graduate research assistants and 2 undergraduate interns.  Our expertise is primarily in survey research and the application of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to map IUSM’s contribution to the physician workforce.

Some of our ongoing projects include:

  • Exit survey of IUSM residents and fellows

In order to plan effective healthcare workforce development initiatives, it is important to understand the reasons why the IUSM residency and fellowship graduates choose to practice in specific locations.  Understanding where the IUSM resident physicians and fellows go after completing their training, and understanding the factors that affect those decisions has become very important, especially due to the shortage and mal-distribution of physicians in Indiana.  This information has been used by institutional officials to improve residency training programs and to develop incentives for the resident physicians to remain in Indiana and practice in medically underserved areas.  This has been an ongoing study since 2008.

  • Exit survey of family medicine residents in Indiana

The family medicine exit survey provides information to the Governor-appointed Indiana Medical Education Board about the post-graduate training plans of all family medicine residents in the state.  It has become increasingly important to understand how family medicine residents decide where to practice after they complete their training because of the alarming decline in the number of United States medical school graduates entering primary care specialties.  The problem is not only a lack of primary care physicians, but a disparity between rural and urban supplies of physician distribution throughout the state, creating a persistent barrier to health care access in some areas.  This information is used by the Board to devise strategies for recruiting and retaining family physicians in areas of need.  This has been an ongoing study since 2012.

  • Medical education pipeline from hometown to practice

IUSM is the largest medical school in the United States with over 1,400 medical students enrolled across nine campuses statewide.  The education of physicians begins with college, proceeds through medical school, and continues into a post-graduate training and clinical practice.  Even though this process may seem very straightforward and linear, each stage of our medical education pipeline is working independent of one another, lacking a reliable means of tracking individuals from beginning to end.  My unit worked with an interdisciplinary team comprised of experts in data management and spatial analysis to create a comprehensive interconnected system for data collection that will allow longitudinal tracking of medical trainees along the medical education pipeline.  This information can also be plotted visually in the form of maps using GIS to provide easily interpreted data for the school leadership to inform strategic planning and assure an equitable distribution of the physician workforce in Indiana.

  • Educational research and scholarship

My unit collaborates with colleagues in other departments and schools to write educational research papers for publication in peer-reviewed journals.  These papers utilize data pertaining to both undergraduate and graduate medical education.  We also present this work at national meetings, such as Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).  In my role as Director, I also have an interest in promoting educational scholarship among my colleagues by encouraging collaboration and data sharing to improve IUSM’s national presence in the field of medical education research.

The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.

Komal Kochhar

Dr. Kochhar is the Director of Educational Affairs Data Analytics and the Director of Research in Medical Education in the Dean’s Office of Educational Affairs.  She is an Assistant Research Professor in the Department of Family Medicine and an Assistant Research Professor in the Department of Anatomy, Cell Biology and Physiology at the Indiana University School of Medicine. She received her MBBS (MD) degree from Maulana Azad Medical College, University of Delhi, India in 1994. Upon completion of medical school, she served as a House Surgeon in Delhi until 1999 and obtained her master’s degree in Health Administration (MHA) from Indiana University in 2003. Dr. Kochhar has 20 years of experience successfully managing and directing projects in collaboration with clinical and basic science departments within the Indiana University School of Medicine. She has received continuous funding to support health services research and medical educational research, garnering over $2.85M as a principal investigator or co-investigator on 59 funded grants and contracts. She has authored or co-authored 319 technical reports and 21 manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals and has presented her work at 107 local / regional, 39 national and 3 international professional conferences.