Research experience amongst medical trainees facilitates evidence-based practice1. In light of this, the British Medical Association2 has produced a review setting out the importance of research, teaching and training for the future of the National Health Service. Similarly, the General Medical Council guidelines ‘Tomorrow’s Doctors’ also highlight that doctors must be able to ‘evaluate and integrate evidence critically’3.
Through involvement in research, medical students will be able to acquire these skills more readily4. Furthermore, it has been suggested that experience of medical research while still in medical school could increase interest in a career in academic medicine5, and postgraduate research productivity6, 7. With application forms for UK junior doctors’ training posts (the ‘Foundation Programme’) now awarding points for demonstrating research experience through presentations or publications, such experience may also improve trainees’ career prospects.
Previous work has demonstrated that medical students recognise the usefulness of research8. Despite this, few actually approach a supervisor, with an even smaller proportion going on to take part in research projects. There appears to be a mismatch between medical students’ ideals, initiative and the research opportunities available to them8. The challenges facing medical students have also been previously investigated8, 9, with difficulty identifying a suitable supervisor described as the greatest barrier. This is in the face of evidence that shows that medical students can help increase the publication output of an academic institution10.
To help tackle these issues, ProjectPal acts as an interface between supervisors offering research, audit or teaching projects, and trainees looking to take up such opportunities. Supervisors upload details of any projects they wish to offer, and trainees are able to browse the listed work and apply, as appropriate.
1. Houlden RL, Raja JB, Collier CP, Clark AF, Waugh JM. 2004. Medical students’ perceptions of an undergraduate research elective. Med Teach 26:659–661.
2. British Medical Association. 2008. Academic medicine in the NHS: Driving innovation and improving healthcare. London: British Medical Association.
3. General Medical Council. 2009. Tomorrow’s doctors. London: General Medical Council.
4. Jacobs CD, Cross PC. 1995. The value of medical student research: The experience at Stanford University School of Medicine. Med Educ 29:342–346.
5. Brancati FL, Mead LA, Levine DM, Martin D, Margolis S, Klag MJ. 1992. Early predictors of career achievement in academic medicine. JAMA 267:1372–1376.
6. Segal S, Lioyd T, Houts PS, Stillman PL, Jungas RL, Greer 3rd RB. 1990. The association between students’ research involvement in medical school and their postgraduate medical activities. Acad Med 65:530–533.
7. Reinders JJ, Kropmans TJ, Cohen-Schotanus J. 2005. Extracurricular research experience of medical students and their scientific output after graduation. Med Educ 39:237.
8. Nikkar-Esfahani A, Jamjoom AA, Fitzgerald JE. Extracurricular participation in research and audit by medical students: opportunities, obstacles, motivation and outcomes. Med Teach. 2012;34(5):e317-24. Epub 2012 Apr 3.
9. Tagal J. 2007. Difficulties in undergraduate medical research. Clin Teach 4:2–5.
10. Cursiefen C, Altnbas A. 1998. Contribution of medical student research to the Medline- indexed publications of a German medical faculty. Med Educ 32:439–440.