Summer Internship Brings Big Ideas Online

Posted July 15, 2020

In a world rocked by tumultuous change, fresh ideas and diverse perspectives are more important than ever to keep assessment of health professionals moving forward. That’s why NBME continued with its 2020 Psychometric Summer Internship Program by changing it to an innovative virtual format.

The summer internship program is one way NBME advances its research and innovation through psychometrics, which includes the measurement of assessments and examinee performance.  

On June 1, four accomplished graduate students in doctoral programs began participating in this year’s internship, each with specific knowledge complementing NBME’s research goals. 

Each intern was paired with an NBME mentor to take on a research project, which will culminate in a written report and presentation of findings. This summer, the interns’ work focuses on validity, scoring, answer selection and student wellness.

“We’re advocates for this internship,” Jonathan Rubright, Vice President of the Office of Research, said. “It is crucial for us to support this program and the educational pipeline it provides to the students, especially during the uncertainty resulting from the pandemic.”

To help ensure a valuable and collaborative internship experience that complies with social distancing guidelines, NBME reimagined its internship program so that it functions remotely in a successful, productive way.

Interns engage in quality individual work and scholarship, in addition to weekly virtual meetings with their respective mentors. They also collaborate with seasoned professionals from a variety of NBME departments.

Hailing from across North America, each intern brings unique experience to the table that NBME employees are excited to learn from.

  • A PhD student at the University of British Columbia in the Measurement, Evaluation and Research Methodology program, Zarah Chaudhary is collaborating with Measurement Scientist Christopher Runyon (a former intern turned full-time, in-house NBME researcher). Their work focuses on validity evidence of clinical reasoning on exams.
  • Beth Perkins is in the Assessment and Measurement PhD program at James Madison University. Along with experienced Psychometricians Jerusha Henderek and Thai Ong (another former intern), Beth is investigating patient note raters of medical exams in her internship.
  • A University of Arkansas doctoral student in the Educational Statistics and Research Methods program, Aaron Myers is conducting research on modeling answer-change behavior in a high-stakes multiple-choice question examination with NBME Senior Psychometrician Irina Grabovsky
  • Amal Alhadabi, a Kent State University doctoral student in Evaluation and Measurement, will also work with Runyon in addition to Measurement Scientist Monica Cuddy. Her research project assesses medical student wellness.

As this summer’s program progresses, each intern has felt at home among like-minded individuals who share their passion for assessment.

“It’s been very enriching to see how excited everyone is about the work that they are doing,” Perkins said. “Everyone has also been so welcoming, which helps to ease the transition into the remote internship role!”

At the same time, mentors like Cuddy enjoy learning from the interns’ varied expertise.

“I’m learning so much while developing new professional relationships and deepening old ones,” Cuddy said. “The interns are very bright, motivated, and bring a fresh perspective to the issues that we address every day.”

The Psychometric Internship Program remains a valued summertime tradition for NBME and participating students alike. Interns have the opportunity to learn more about a career in medical assessment, while mentors foster lifelong collaborative relationships with students who could end up as their coworkers one day at NBME.

“Being part of an individual’s career trajectory is something I personally feel is very important,” Rubright said. “My favorite part of the program is building relationships with graduate student scholars. We become part of their network, and they become part of ours.”

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