Clinical Electives Program: Health Services Research

Eight-Week Session

This elective is intended for students who are interested in population-level health services research and disability-related public health issues. Previous coursework in research methods is helpful, but not required. Selection is based upon evidence of motivation to explore a breadth of topics included in health services research and appreciate potential policy implications. Applicants must possess good standing in medical school.

Rotation Coordinator:
Julia Porcino, MS

Rotation Description
The Rehabilitation Medicine Department (RMD) resides within the Mark O. Hatfield Clinical Research Center, a state of the art, 200-bed biomedical research hospital located on the campus of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD. The RMD was established to provide the highest quality rehabilitation assessment and treatments for patients with complex medical conditions and to perform cutting edge rehabilitation research. The Department initiates, collaborates in, and supports research conducted at the Clinical Center and other NIH Institutes and Centers. In May of 2007, the RMD added an Epidemiology and Biostatistics Section to support the statistical needs of the RMD staff, address departmental data management and security issues, and to expand its research portfolio to include population-level research on health services and disability-related public health issues. Since its inception, the Section has initiated and is currently involved in several collaborative research projects. Broadly, the research examines health disparities, health services, disability and, health related policies and programs. For example, one project is a multi-year effort to assist the Social Security Administration explore innovative methods for augmenting the disability determination process. A second project examines the need for, access to, use and cost of health and health related services among adults with chronic health conditions and disabilities.

The student will work with the research team to become familiar with the team's current research projects and develop an appreciation for health services and rehabilitation research more generally. A selection of seminal publications in the student's area of interest will be provided to actively engage the student in critical examination of the literature and substantive discussion with team members. With guidance from the RMD team, the student will prepare a draft research proposal and develop a research abstract with intent to submit and present at a scientific conference.

Rotation Objectives
During this training, students will:

  1. Develop a general knowledge of the major topics of study in the fields of health services and rehabilitation, with particular focus on people with disabilities. Topics may include health disparities, organization and quality effectiveness of health services, disparities and health service utilization;
  2. Select one focal area for more in depth study of the extant literature, methods and implications for policy/practice;
  3. Effectively communicate with mentors on relevant research ideas in both written and oral forms;
  4. Develop an understanding of the research process by using literature to develop a short research proposal. This will include defining a problem, formulating hypotheses, and developing a manageable analytical strategy for future study. Students will also learn and apply basic protections for human subjects and consider ethical guidelines when formulating the research plan;
  5. Gain knowledge of and experience with NIH resources supporting research;
  6. Working with Rehabilitation Medicine Department (RMD) staff, the student will develop an abstract with intent to submit and present at a scientific conference; and
  7. Present the abstract and draft research proposal to RMD staff in Grand Rounds

Selection of Applicants
A telephone interview will be conducted to insure the applicant's interest and goals are well aligned with the training experience we are able to provide.


  • Julia Porcino, MS
  • Leighton Chan, MD, MPH
  • Jonathan Camacho, MD
  • Josh Chang, PhD
  • Min Ding, PhD
  • Denis Griffis, MS
  • Stephen Gulley, PhD, MSW
  • Pei-shu Ho, PhD
  • Albert Lai, PhD
  • Lisa Nelson, PT
  • Elizabeth Rasch, PT, PhD
  • Larry Tang, PhD
  • Thanh Thieu, PhD
  • Ao Yuan, PhD
  • Chunxiao Zhou, PhD

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This page last updated on 07/06/2023

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