PSTP candidates must demonstrate significant research experience with publications, presentations at national meetings, and (in some cases) a record of research funding. While many PSTPs allow for simultaneous application for residency and fellowship training, most programs do not require that candidates have decided on subspecialty. At some institutions, application through ERAS utilizes a specific NRMP ID number for the PSTP (to distinguish it from the categorical residency program).
PSTPs often incorporate the Accelerated Research Pathway, sponsored by the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP). The ARP combines two years of residency with four years of fellowship (typically one clinical year and three research years, depending on subspecialty). The basic elements of most PSTPs include an organized, longitudinal mentorship plan, financial support for career development needs (travel, computers, etc.), and a core curriculum focused on critical skills to guide mentor selection, data analysis, oral presentation, manuscript writing, and grant submission. Mentorship is achieved via a team approach including the PSTP program director, primary mentor, and basic/translational/clinical faculty. While PSTPs often focus on intensive clinical training during the initial three years of training, mentorship activities and monthly research conferences keep trainees engaged scientifically, allowing for a more seamless transition into the research phase of training. Common goals during clinical training period of PSTPs focus on obtaining clinical skills and knowledge in pediatrics and fellowship while investigating potential laboratories and mentors to promote opportunities for scientific engagement and preparation of institutional funding applications (e.g., for T32 programs).
During the PSTP research years (Years 4-6 depending on subspecialty fellowship), trainees maintain a clinical presence (e.g., a month of inpatient service or a half-day clinic session per week) but have at least 80% of time devoted to research. Most programs continue to provide financial support and some offer salary supplements, allowing trainees to focus on career development without the distraction of seeking supplementary income from outside clinical activities (i.e., moonlighting).