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OPINION
Year : 2021  |  Volume : 19  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 115-116

Inculcating research skills among medical students during their training


1 Member of the Medical Education Unit and Institute Research Council, Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth – Deemed to be University, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet District, Tamil Nadu, India
2 Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth – Deemed to be University, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet District, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Submission01-Dec-2020
Date of Decision09-Dec-2020
Date of Acceptance22-Dec-2020
Date of Web Publication15-Apr-2021

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Saurabh RamBihariLal Shrivastava
Professor, Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth (SBV) – Deemed to be University, Tiruporur - Guduvancherry Main Road, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet District - 603 108, Tamil Nadu
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/cmi.cmi_146_20

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  Abstract 


Research is the backbone of medicine, and the advancement in the field of research plays a crucial role in improving the quality of care offered to the general population. In general, the process of development of research skills by medical students can be either accomplished by integrating research within the curriculum or by means of encouragement of specific activities or course distributed throughout the course depending on a clearly defined plan. Like any other competency, it is a must that there has to be a framework for the assessment of research skills to ascertain the competency of medical students. In conclusion, it is the need of the hour that medical students should be given an adequate number of learning opportunities to develop research skills during their undergraduation period. However, for this to happen, research-related competencies should be included within the curriculum and a specific comprehensive framework targeting research-related attributes should be developed.

Keywords: Assessment, curriculum, medical students, research


How to cite this article:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Inculcating research skills among medical students during their training. Curr Med Issues 2021;19:115-6

How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Inculcating research skills among medical students during their training. Curr Med Issues [serial online] 2021 [cited 2021 Jun 19];19:115-6. Available from: https://www.cmijournal.org/text.asp?2021/19/2/115/313813




  Introduction Top


Research is the backbone of medicine and the advancement in the field of research plays a crucial role in improving the quality of care offered to the general population.[1] Medical colleges are being assigned with an important role to produce future medical doctors, who should be competent enough to meet the health-related needs of the community. T fulfill this role of social accountability, it is a must that interventions are taken by the administrators and faculty members to sensitize and expose medical students to both patient care and research domains during their training period.[1] However, considering the reality that the medical curriculum is already packed, it is a big challenge for the stakeholders to ensure that students are given adequate number of learning opportunities to develop research skills across all the training stages.[1],[2]


  Strategies for Developing Research Skills Top


In general, the process of development of research skills by medical students can be either accomplished by integrating research within the curriculum or by means of encouragement of specific activities or course distributed throughout the course depending on a clearly defined plan.[3] At the curriculum level, the adoption of a student-centered approach (such as project-based learning, case-based learning, problem-based learning, etc.) encourages the students to make significant progress in enhancing their research skills. It will be ideal to adopt a combination of both traditional approaches and student-centric approaches, as they benefit the students to acquire the skills of critical analysis, communication, and team working.[3],[4]

Another approach targeting curriculum will be to plan and implement integrated teaching, as it aids medical students to integrate knowledge with practice.[2] An integrated curriculum which envisages the use of case scenarios in teaching plays a defining role in the acquisition and refinement of research skills. In addition, sensitizing medical students about the importance of evidence-based medicine and encouraging them to practice the same will help them to become critical thinker, develop literature search skills, and even strengthen clinical reasoning and team working domains.[2],[3]

Further, students can also be exposed to situational and experiential forms of learning to develop research-related skills during their training period. It is always advocated to utilize the existing research activities in the medical college and link them with teaching to benefit students.[3],[4] In the medical colleges across India, the presence of a Statistician in the Department of Community Medicine acts as a major boon for the medical students who are interested in carrying out research activities. These statisticians not only sensitize the medical students about the various aspects of biostatistics (as a part of their curriculum requirements) but also help them understand the significance of sample size in research, methods of calculation of sample size, data entry, and the common tests that can be employed for statistical analysis.

Moreover, we cannot ignore the role of conferences organized for the medical students by the students themselves, which gives an opportunity for the students from different medical colleges to participate and learn different aspects of research and recent developments. It is noteworthy that institutes of repute such as Armed Force Medical College, Pune; All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi; and Christian Medical College, Vellore have taken the lead and thereby are creating ample opportunities for the progression of medical students. In fact, the Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth, Puducherry, is organizing the first international conference for the Undergraduate students of Health Sciences and offers a unique opportunity for the undergraduate students to learn and progress.


  Participation in Research Projects Top


The ideal approach for ensuring the development of research skills is through encouraging medical students to independently perform a research project during their undergraduation.[2] In fact, research projects can be included in the core curriculum, and all students can be encouraged to undertake them. The other option could be to introduce research electives for medical students and then students can learn the basics about research and also independently perform research projects.[2],[3],[4] It is quite essential that students should be trained about research and other attributes, and it will be nice to utilize the period of the foundation course for this sensitization.

At Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth, Puducherry, and in both constituent colleges, research projects at undergraduate levels are given extensive recognition and encouragement and students are offered both financial assistance and mentoring under a teacher. In the Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, all the students posted during their internship to the urban and rural centers are expected to perform a short project (wherein students in groups decide a research topic, perform review of literature, formulate questionnaire, participate in data collection and analysis, and finally present the study) under the guidance of the center in-charge faculty. However, all these activities will necessarily require dedicated efforts from a team of faculty members who together encourage research-related activities at all levels.[5]


  Assessment of Research Skills Top


Like any other competency, it is a must that there has to be a framework for the assessment of research skills to ascertain the competency of medical students.[3] This assessment can be carried out either in the form of asking students to maintain a portfolio (documenting learning, adding evidence of learning, and reflecting on the learning) or during an objective structured clinical examination station or peer feedback on critical appraisal or even in summative assessments.[3],[4] Although it might sound difficult to assess the acquisition of research skills in summative assessments, the teachers can assess the same by formulating research questions within the purview of a knowledge-based problem (namely, testing data interpretation or performing review of literature on the given topic in a practical session).[2],[3],[4]


  Conclusion Top


It is the need of the hour that medical students should be given an adequate number of learning opportunities to develop research skills during their undergraduation period. However, for this to happen, research-related competencies should be included within the curriculum and a specific comprehensive framework targeting research-related attributes should be developed.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

1.
Cheung BM. Medical student research: Is it necessary and beneficial? Postgrad Med J 2018;94:317.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Taylor AK, Purdy S. How to get involved in research as a medical student. BMJ 2017;356:i6593.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Yussuf F, Fernandova K, Khalif H. Improving undergraduate medical student involvement in research. Adv Med Educ Pract 2017;8:731-3.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Laidlaw A, Aiton J, Struthers J, Guild S. Developing research skills in medical students: AMEE Guide No. 69. Med Teach 2012;34:e754-71.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Schexnayder S, Starring H, Fury M, Mora A, Leonardi C, Dasa V. The formation of a medical student research committee and its impact on involvement in departmental research. Med Educ Online 2018;23:1424449.  Back to cited text no. 5
    




 

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