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Engaging undergraduate medical students in health research: students' perceptions and attitudes, and evaluation of a training workshop on research methodology



Engaging undergraduate medical students in health research: students' perceptions and attitudes, and evaluation of a training workshop on research methodology



Journal of the Egyptian Public Health Association 81(1-2): 99-118



As a preliminary step before incorporating basics of health research methodology and students' research projects, in medical curricula of Alexandria Faculty of Medicine, the present study was conducted to (1) explore students' perceptions of engaging undergraduate medical students in research, and to (2) evaluate a training workshop on Health Research Methodology. In phase 1, an anonymous questionnaire was administered to a random sample of 644 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th years' students, Alexandria Faculty of Medicine. Students showed high levels of interest in research, and positive attitudes towards integrating research activities into undergraduate medical curricula. However, a considerable proportion of students were not fully aware of the benefits of engaging undergraduate students in research. Students believed that the main problems facing students' research are: curriculum overload, time restriction, inadequate training in research, lack of staff guidance and cooperation, lack of interest and motivation, and lack of incentives. Several solutions were suggested by students to increase their motivation and engagement in research activities. These included: decreasing the curriculum overload, more training workshops on research methodology, integration of research methodology into undergraduate curriculum, engaging students in mentored research projects, more staff guidance and cooperation, and the incorporation of research activities to be a part of students' final assessment. Students, as young promising researchers, need to be encouraged and awarded. Others suggested increasing funds to support students' research projects, training on data processing, analysis and interpretation, and applying innovative teaching methods that stimulate active learning and critical thinking. Other suggestions included: establishment of a mentored 'Student Research Committee', 'Student Research Journal' and organization of 'Student Conferences' with the subsequent publication of their research papers. In phase 2, a total of 27 students attended a one-day training workshop on research methodology. Students showed high levels of satisfaction and gain from the workshop. The great majority regarded it as valuable, enjoyable experience, providing them with both research skills and sensitization to the benefits of undergraduate medical students' engagement in research activities, as well as its crucial importance to their future medical practice. At our medical school, we believe that medical students are becoming more enthusiastic about getting involved in research, which is encouraging. Given the right amount of support, medical students' interest in research can be successfully nurtured.

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Accession: 052978616

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PMID: 17382086


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