Developing scientific research and communication skills for medical students

Julio Cesar Otaño Rivas

ODEM-Dominican Republic

 Email: [email protected]

Julio is a fifth-year medical student at the Universidad Nacional Pedro Henriquez Ureña (UNPHU) in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. He is an active member of the Standing Committee on Medical Education of ODEM-Dominican Republic. He participated in the ODEM Publications Workshop and subsequent practicum and published his letter to an editor in The Clinical Teacher.  

Physicians are health leaders who should always be up-to-date on the clinical management and research. However, often without formal training in research, doubts arise about the process of scientific writing including the requirements to publish in a scientific journal. Therefore, if the publication lacks proper writing, there is a risk of rejection or general loss of interest by the editorial staff.

In order to strengthen medical training and writing skills for scientific purposes, members of the Standing Committee on Medical Education (SCOME) of ODEM-Dominican Republic organized a two-hour Scientific Publications workshop for medical students in September 2019. Held at the Universidad Nacional Pedro Henriquez Ureña, this workshop incorporated two segments. First, the academic portion of the workshop was provided by Dr. Helena Chapman, founder of ODEM-Dominican Republic, presented the topic, “Key skills in preparing scientific publications”. She described the general format of a scientific publication and the analytical process to develop a letter to an editor for a medical journal. In turn, she provided two concrete examples of previously published letters to an editor, where she reviewed each sentence and paragraph in detail.

Second, a panel where five medical students offered in-depth insight of personal experiences related to their participation in a similar workshop conducted in February 2019, followed by a four-month tutorial session from March to June 2019. Each student presented formal presentations, providing tips to new workshop participants about the writing process, their motivation to participate in the workshop, and reasons for topic selection.   Their presentations served to encourage fellow ODEM members to gain skills on scientific writing and publications.

Upon completion of this respective workshop, ODEM members were offered an opportunity to participate in a four-month tutorial session, facilitated by Dr. Chapman. This tutorial session provided weekly assignments to prepare a letter to the editor and attend regular Skype meetings. These tutorial sessions gave participants additional insight on the preparation of the letter to the editor for a medical journal, including techniques to improve scientific communication.

By organizing these SCOME activities, medical students will gain additional skills to strengthen their training. They can contribute to the development of the medical community during their academic training and acquire critical analysis and communication skills. In turn, they can express their ideas and experiences of their clinical rotations through articles that will contribute to the scientific literature. These articles have the potential to improve the quality of health services that demand health professionals to master diverse skills for clinical and community practice. As future health leaders, medical students can continue to acquire essential skills that will allow their personal and professional growth along their career path.

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