LETTER TO EDITOR
Year : 2021 | Volume
: 14 | Issue : 3 | Page : 396--397
Training medical students about research skills: Existing challenges and the potential solutions
Saurabh RamBihariLal Shrivastava1, Prateek Saurabh Shrivastava2,
1 Medical Education Unit Coordinator and Member of the 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
Dr. Saurabh RamBihariLal Shrivastava
Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth (SBV) – Deemed to be University, Thiruporur - Guduvancherry Main Road, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet District - 603 108, Tamil Nadu
|How to cite this article:|
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Training medical students about research skills: Existing challenges and the potential solutions.Indian J Health Sci Biomed Res 2021;14:396-397
|How to cite this URL:|
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Training medical students about research skills: Existing challenges and the potential solutions. Indian J Health Sci Biomed Res [serial online] 2021 [cited 2022 Jan 17 ];14:396-397
Available from: https://www.ijournalhs.org/text.asp?2021/14/3/396/327255
Exposure of undergraduate medical students to research and research-related attributes has been acknowledged as one of the crucial prerequisites in medical training. In fact, different medical institutions spread across the globe have realized the significance of exposure to research in the advancement of medicine and the practice of evidence-based medicine. This is clearly evident by the strategies taken by the administrators to initiate new programs targeting research or in terms of exposure to research skills as an integral part of the curriculum. However, these developments were not uniform and there are many medical institutions wherein the research skills training of undergraduates is either ignored or has become difficult to implement due to the prevailing multiple challenges.,
Challenges in Imparting Research Training and Solutions
The biggest challenge has been to find out time to accommodate a meaningful exposure to research activities, including projects within the already busy curriculum. It is obvious that research cannot be given separate time in the curriculum followed by different regulatory bodies, and thus, it is ideal to distribute exposure to research-related activities throughout the course. This can start by giving an introduction to what is research, scope of research, the need for research, role of research in improving patient care and professional career, etc., in the period of the foundation course. Subsequently, online or traditional sessions/workshops can be organized to expose them to different aspects of research. Students can also be instructed to do research projects under the guidance of a teacher in any of the departments.
Another option will be to start research as an elective course and this period can be utilized for training them about different aspects of research and carrying out an independent research work., One more option will be to mentor students and thereby utilize the period of vacation to carry out some short form of research work. The next challenge is the limited number of opportunities (namely teachers are busy in their role of patient care or other academic responsibilities and thus do not train students on research), existing norms (such as obtaining permission from ethics committee which is often a time-consuming process), or lack of resources (especially if the research involves funding support or doing laboratory/radiological investigations).,,
Considering that the process of carrying out research and eventually publishing the same requires intensive efforts and as it does not always deliver prompt results (chances of rejection of articles), the teachers are often not interested in guiding students., These issues can be better dealt with administrative support and better policies, such as encouraging or making it mandatory for faculty members to mentor a specific number of students for research work, adoption of a balanced scorecard for evaluating the performance of a faculty member, issuing financial assistance for the research projects, or acknowledging the work in the form of a certificate, etc.,
Problem of Assessment
The next major challenge is with regard to assessment of the research skills. As it is quite obvious that students will not learn anything or take the research component lightly unless it is being assessed, there has to be a specific plan for the assessment of research skills. Planning an assessment of research skills is once again a time-consuming task, as it has to happen along with other academic assessments. This can be better dealt by merging assessments of research with ongoing assessments, such as instructing students to maintain a portfolio and reflect on their learning or keep an objective structured practical examination station. The teachers can even include a theory question (to check factual knowledge) or practical question (for instance, to demonstrate literature search) as a part of the formative or summative assessments. These assessments will help the teachers to gain an insight into the level of residents on researchrelated competencies but will definitely require loads of commitment.,, At Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, a constituent unit of the Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth, Deemed-to-be University, Puducherry, under the mentorship of the Associate Dean Research, a structured phase-wise program for undergraduate medical students has been initiated by the Institute Research Council. The rationale behind this program has been to gradually expose the students to the intricacies of research and make them understand about the steps involved in carrying out the same.,,
From the students' perspective, they might not be aware of the relevance of research skills with regard to their academic or professional career. This essentially requires that students should be sensitized about the basics of research and given an opportunity to explore their careers., It is also encouraged that faculty members should inform the students about their ongoing research projects, and if inclined, also involve them. This not only enhances the image of a teacher as a research model but also even helps the student to decide about their own research priorities, and learn by experience., All the above-mentioned challenges are at the institutional level and can be effectively dealt over there itself.,, However, at the national level, the government can either increase research funding for student projects, launch research awards and scholarships, or offer better opportunities for a research-driven career.
The promotion of research-related activities in medical students is the need of the hour. However, it is not an easy task considering the wide range of challenges that are prevailing within the institution itself. It is high time that all the stakeholders understand their responsibility and the significance of research in improving health-care delivery and thus take concerted actions.
Financial support and sponsorship
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
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