Why research matters
As a stepping stone into the world of research and clinical trials, a number of fifth year medical students are participating in major international studies here at Calvary Mater Newcastle.
As part of a medical degree, students are given the opportunity to participate in research programs from their third year onwards. Currently at the Mater, there are around 15 medical students participating in three international data collection studies for the surgery department.
These studies, led by groups based out of Europe with hospitals from around the world participating, include; the GECKO study (Global Evaluation of Cholecystectomy Knowledge and Outcomes), which is a prospective, multi-site observational study on emergency and elective cholecystectomies; the HIPPO study (Hernias, Pathway and Planetary Outcomes for Inguinal Hernia Surgery), which is a global cohort project; and the APOLLO study, which is an international snapshot on the acute presentation of colorectal cancer.
Shane Zhang, medical student and an assistant in medicine, has been working alongside Colorectal Surgeon, Professor Stephen Smith, and Senior Staff Specialist for Surgical Outpatient Services, Dr Adeeb Majid, in setting up these programs.
“Research is important to improve patient outcomes in the long run. Ideally, we want to treat patients using the best possible methods. In order to do this, we have to rely on evidence and evidence is built on research,” he said.
“Being involved in research programs is a great exercise for medical students in terms of knowing more about research, why research matters and how research is performed.”
Research Governance Officer, Melissa Gavenlock, has been liaising with the students and believes that getting involved in research at data collection level is a great entry point.
“It’s a really good way of introducing medical students to research. They should feel like they are contributing to global health knowledge and initiatives,” she said.
“They get to learn and be enthusiastic about research and clinical trials and it adds that extra layer to their medical training, making for more engaged and enthusiastic medical professionals.
“Studies have shown that hospitals that research have better health outcomes,” she said.
As for Shane, he wants to get involved in research as much as he can.
“As a future clinician, it allows me to stay on top of new guidelines and new forms of evidence and also have a chance of contributing to that evidence.”