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Frequently Asked Questions

Who Oversees CERA?

A CERA Steering Committee sets direction for CERA. Members of the Steering Committee serve as directors for each survey. The directors identify experienced researchers to make decisions on proposals and provide mentorship to applicants. Mentors assist the primary investigators with question formation, data analysis, and manuscript development. STFM provides staff leadership for the initiative, but all CAFM organizations provide financial support for CERA.

How Do I Get My Research Project Questions in the Next CERA Survey?

CERA sends a call for proposals to CAFM members prior to each CERA survey. Proposals are assessed according to logistical and technical considerations, as well as to the significance and new knowledge to be yielded. Priority is given to content that is likely to yield a high quality peer-reviewed publication. .

Is There a Limit to Questions One May Submit for a CERA Survey?

Survey directors generally limits the number of questions on a given topic to 10. This means 10 total, not 10 with 5 subparts each. This allows the director to include a reasonable number of proposals in each survey and forces researchers to ask focused questions.

What is the Process and Criteria for Evaluating CERA Questions and Deciding Which Get Included?

The CERA Steering Committee reviews the applications and determines which topics will be included. Criteria that go into that decision include (but are not limited to): the amount of room available in the survey so as to not overwhelm members, the novelty of the submitted questions, and the likelihood of being able to publish the results. A few vocal members have questioned some survey topics. The committee has put measures into place to ensure clear communication of survey topics; however, CERA will continue to consider scientifically valid questions on topics some members may consider to be sensitive.

How Many Surveys Does CERA Conduct a Year and Whom Do They Survey?

Based on experience with proposals received thus far, our plans are to survey the following audiences:

  • Clerkship directors and/or other medical school faculty (once annually)
  • Family medicine residency directors (twice annually)
  • General CAFM membership, including member subsets, such as department chairs, behavioral science faculty, and other residency faculty as requested (once annually)

Each survey includes questions on multiple subjects, as well as a set of recurring questions to provide data for historical comparisons.  Recurring questions may include:

  • Demographics of medical schools, residencies and fellowship programs, eg, university- vs. community-setting, number of trainees, etc.
  • Graduate statistics of medical schools, residencies and fellowship programs, eg, % of medical students who enter family medicine, % of residents who practice in rural areas, numbers of fellows in geriatrics programs, etc.
  • Curricula questions targeting medical schools, residencies, and fellowship programs, eg, clerkship clinical topics, and residency and fellowship competencies.

Is CERA for Primary or Secondary Research Only, or Can CERA Organizations Include Questions About their Products/Services?

The answer is, “it depends on the questions.” There is a tension between CERA wanting to be supportive of organizational questions and wanting to ensure an appropriate response rate. Questions with responses of enduring value, useful for benchmarking or leading to publishable studies would be useful to include in CERA. Questions that don’t have this enduring value or those that are intended for one organization’s members are not appropriate for CERA. Mixing in too many questions about products/services might significantly dilute the response rate.

Is CERA Intended to Replace All Surveys From CAFM Organizations to Their Members?

No. Each organization still maintains the authority to conduct its own internal surveys. That said, one of the chief goals of the omnibus survey is to limit the absolute number of surveys individuals get each year. Questions that have enduring value can be rolled into CERA surveys. There may be organizational questions that should not be included in CERA, eg, questions to acquire data that will remain private to one organization’s members.

What About IRB Approval?

CERA omnibus surveys use the American Academy of Family Physicians IRB, a federally approved IRB. Investigators should follow their local IRB policies regarding use of the data.

What if I Need Mentoring?

A benefit of CERA is that institutions that don't have a strong research infrastructure or experienced investigators can receive help in moving from an idea to publication. The CERA Steering Committee is available to answer questions and assist individuals in preparing proposals. Once projects have been approved, experienced researchers join each project team to help refine questions, facilitate analysis, and prepare and submit manuscripts. Because of their extensive involvement with the project, researchers who join your team should be included as authors on published papers/presentations.

What is the CERA Clearinghouse?

Data is collected through STFM and housed at STFM under the oversight of the CERA Steering Committee. Data is released online to CAFM members in a variety of formats. Individuals who submit specific questions for study are given 3 months to analyze the data from the survey prior to release of the data to the general membership. The expectation is that investigators will write and submit a paper within those 3 months. 

Survey results include demographic information in addition to responses to submitted survey questions that target the entire group or sub-populations. This data can be used by faculty and residents to meet scholarly activity

Where Can I Submit Manuscripts With the Results of My CERA Study?

Consider this list of journals for educational scholarship created by the AAMC.

Copyright 2018 by Society of Teachers of Family Medicine