As Medical Students Mature Research Interest Shifts from Exam Focus to Career and Area of Personal Preference

Gavin, K.T., Benito, M. and Walsh, C. (2013) As Medical Students Mature Research Interest Shifts from Exam Focus to Career and Area of Personal Preference. In: 6th scientific meeting of the Irish Network of Medical Educators (INMED), 21st February to Friday 22nd February 2013, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland.


AIMS To determine attitudes and motivation of 2nd- and 3rd-year medical students towards involvement in research. METHODOLOGY An anonymous questionnaire asked students the best time to introduce research in the curriculum, factors motivating participation and choice of research project. Likert scales were used to determine relative importance of variables. Statistical significance was calculated using the R-project for statistical computing. RESULTS Response rates were 57% (n=86) and 35.6% (n=52) for 2nd- and 3rd-years, respectively. The majority of respondents (66.27% and 75%, respectively) suggested 2nd-year was the best time to introduce research. Main motivators for 2nd-years towards involvement were “having research as a curriculum requirement“(42.86%; n=36) and to “get good marks in exams “(22.35%; n=19). Third- years prioritised and were motivated by “personal interest in a topic or field” (44.23%; n=23), “long term career interest” (41.51%; n=22) and possibility of “a publication” (p=0.0005). Possible benefits for their overall medical education and career progression were additional significant motivators (p?0.02). For both years, but significantly greater for 3rd-years (P=0.0005), “being personally interested in a topic or field” (21.18%; n=18 and 52.83%; n=28) was the greatest influence on project choice. A topic closely” linked to long term career interest/ goals” (p=0.0005), and the “likelihood of getting a publication” (p=0.02) ranked highly and along with “wanting to work with a particular tutor “(p=0.001) were significantly greater project choice motivators for 3rd-years. Both years, placed “a lot” of importance on “being shown the link between basic science research and clinical practice” (27.38%; n=23 and (26.92%; n=14) , “being able to embrace scientific principles to keep relevant to developing medical practice” (21.18%; n=18 and 26.92%; n=14) and “being introduced to research as early as possible in the foundation years” (20%; n=17 and 19.23%; n=10). Third-year students placed significantly greater importance on “getting a publication during undergraduate years” (p=0.001) and “presenting research results at conferences” (p=0.003). CONCLUSIONS Medical students recognise the importance of being introduced to research early in their education. Second-years appear more motivated by curriculum and exams, while Third-years appear more motivated by topics of personal interest, long-term career goals, the possibility of a publication and tutor preference.

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