Journal of Postgraduate Medicine
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Year : 2009  |  Volume : 55  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 152-153  

Mentoring medical student research through studentships and fellowships: Reflections from India

NS Dangayach1, UP Kulkarni2, TS Panchabhai3,  
1 Department of Neurology, University Hospitals of Case Medical Center, Cleveland, OH, USA
2 Department of Medicine, LTM Medical College and LTMG Hospital, Mumbai, India
3 Department of Medicine, University of Louisville School of Medicine, Louisville, KY, USA

Correspondence Address:
T S Panchabhai
Department of Medicine, University of Louisville School of Medicine, Louisville, KY

How to cite this article:
Dangayach N S, Kulkarni U P, Panchabhai T S. Mentoring medical student research through studentships and fellowships: Reflections from India.J Postgrad Med 2009;55:152-153

How to cite this URL:
Dangayach N S, Kulkarni U P, Panchabhai T S. Mentoring medical student research through studentships and fellowships: Reflections from India. J Postgrad Med [serial online] 2009 [cited 2022 Sep 28 ];55:152-153
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The increasing enthusiasm towards participation by medical students in research projects in India [1] has prompted this write-up. Research experience in medical school has been shown to be related to success in academic careers. [2] India has only 111 researchers per every 1,000,000 people. [3] Recognition of potential research aptitude early in medical school can possibly increase the number of academic physicians involved in research. Medical students in India have limited opportunities to participate in research, such as the short-term scholarships supported by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Kishore Vaigyanik Protsahan Yojana (KVPY). Although these programs do create interest in research and have boosted the research projects undertaken by medical students, [1] students in India have no formal pathway to become physician-scientists or academicians. Having participated in these research programs, we would like to share our views about possible improvements in the present research environment for medical students.

One of the important issues to be addressed in research studentships is to strike the right balance between originality of thought and team work. Though original ideas from medical students can lead to productive outcomes, starting from scratch can become overwhelming for many. This transition can be easily achieved through participation in ongoing studies. An earlier study showed that training in research methodology received early in medical school helps students to develop a positive attitude towards research [4] and influences scientific output in the form of scientific publications. [5] Such workshops can help students during this transition period. Discussions, lab meetings, and actively involving medical students in the process of peer review can help them to interact with their peers involved in research, discuss the many similar issues and come up with innovative solutions. Research mentors have a great responsibility in generating and maintaining the interest towards research beginning with Institutional review board approval right upto scientific publication.

However, there are factors such as a lack of incentives and aspects of the selection process in medical education that necessitates that students have a very strong motivation for being involved in research. There is a disparity between the state-run and private medical schools with respect to funding, autonomy, and collaborations in basic research, which affects the involvement of medical students. Similarly, though students are required to devote additional time towards research apart from their clinical rotations, they do not receive extra credits. To encourage research, students can be given credit for research activity in medical school beginning at the institutional level in the form of internal assessment. [6] Changes in the undergraduate and postgraduate curricula and grading systems are needed to sustain research among medical students and residents. [7],[8],[9] Students could also be encouraged to take a year or two off from their traditional course-work to focus on research during their medical school training, a concept quite prevalent in countries like the United States.

We believe that opportunities like ICMR/KVPY scholarships should be utilized to mentor medical students toward an academic medical career. Simple modifications like giving importance to research activity during selection for post-graduate courses, arranging student conferences, promotion of inter-institutional collaborative research, early exposure to research methodology training and encouraging students to take dedicated research time-off are some of the possible ways of augmenting the current medical curriculum to produce academic physicians, and clinician-researchers.


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