Medical Student Perspective of Undergraduate (Honours) Research Training

  • Joule J Li School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Adelaide, Adelaide SA 5005
  • Monica Anne Hamilton-Bruce Department of Neurology, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woodville South SA 5011 School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Adelaide, Adelaide SA 5005
  • Ray Peterson School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Adelaide, Adelaide SA 5005
  • Stuart Howell Data Management and Analysis Centre, Discipline of Public Health, University of Adelaide, Adelaide SA 5005
  • Simon Andrew Koblar School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Adelaide, Adelaide SA 5005 Department of Neurology, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woodville South SA 5011

Abstract

At the University of Adelaide, students in the 6-year undergraduate Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) program interested in pursuing research can complete either a 1-year full-time intercalated or 2-year part-time concurrent BMedSc Honours/MBBS program. These research degrees are an important mechanism to provide early research exposure and supervisor mentorship to undergraduate medical students. This study aimed to explore factors motivating medical students to undertake an Honours research degree, how the Honours degree influences future research intentions and the perceived differences between full-time and part-time study modes.

An anonymous questionnaire was administered to all 38 graduates of the Honours program from 2002-2011. Ten of 19 individuals from the 2009-2011 graduating cohorts responded; there were no responses from earlier cohorts. All 10 respondents stated that Honours was worthwhile and nine had undertaken additional research since Honours. Factors favourably affecting enthusiasm for research were supervisor support and the experience compared to expectations. Enthusiasm for research was significantly higher after Honours than before this experience (Wilcoxon signed-ranks test, p=0.007). Students who undertook Honours full-time tended to consider the full-time option ideal, whereas the part- time students tended to consider the part-time option ideal. This was strongly supported by the qualitative comments.

This study found that Honours research degrees are a beneficial experience for undergraduate medical students and increase interest in future research careers. While the study was limited by the small population of students completing the Honours program, uptake at the University of Adelaide is similar to Commonwealth universities. The low response rate is also considered reasonable for a professional population, however future research should address both this and why few medical students undertake research study. 

Author Biographies

Joule J Li, School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Adelaide, Adelaide SA 5005
Mr Joule J. Li is a graduate medical student from the University of Adelaide, Australia. Mr Li presented this research at the Australian and New Zealand Association for Health Professional Educators Annual Conference in Melbourne in 2013.
Monica Anne Hamilton-Bruce, Department of Neurology, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woodville South SA 5011 School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Adelaide, Adelaide SA 5005
Anne Hamilton-Bruce BSc MSc MBA PhD AFCHSE CBiol MSB CSci FIBMS is a Principal Medical Scientist & Management Co-ordinator, Neurology 5C, Co-Director of the Stroke Research Programme, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woodville South, SA 5011;  Affiliate Associate Professor, School of Medicine, University of Adelaide, Adelaide SA 5005.  She has also tutored and supervised medical students and currently supervises research students from the Universities of Adelaide and South Australia.
Ray Peterson, School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Adelaide, Adelaide SA 5005
A/Prof Ray Peterson BSc (Hons), DipEd, Grad Dip Sc Ed, MAppSc, PhD is an Associate Professor in Education, Faculty of Health Sciences, at the University of Adelaide. He has worked on major curriculum development and renewal projects in medicine and has wide ranging educational interests in teaching, learning and assessment.
Stuart Howell, Data Management and Analysis Centre, Discipline of Public Health, University of Adelaide, Adelaide SA 5005
Dr Stuart Howell is a Senior Statistician at the Data Management & Analysis Centre, University of Adelaide, and also provides a statistical service at the Basil Hetzel Institute for Translational Health Research, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
Simon Andrew Koblar, School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Adelaide, Adelaide SA 5005 Department of Neurology, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woodville South SA 5011
Prof Simon A. Koblar BMBS, FRACP, PhD is a Professor of Medicine, Director of the Stroke Research Programme, and Convenor of the MBBS Research Committee, School of Medicine, at the University of Adelaide.
Published
2017-08-11
Section
Articles