An integrated model for developing research skills in an undergraduate medical curriculum: appraisal of an approach using student selected components.
Riley, S. C., Morton, J., Ray, D. C., Swann, D. G., Davidson, D. J.
Perspect. Med. Educ. (2013) 2(4):230-47 PubMed
Student selected components (SSCs), at that time termed special study modules, were arguably the most innovative element in Tomorrow’s Doctors (1993), the document from the General Medical Council that initiated the modernization of medical curricula in the UK. SSCs were proposed to make up one-third of the medical curriculum and provide students with choice, whilst allowing individual schools autonomy in how SSCs were utilized. In response, at the University of Edinburgh the undergraduate medical curriculum provides an integrated and sequential development and assessment of research skill learning outcomes, for all students in the SSC programme. The curriculum contains SSCs which provide choice to students in all 5 years. There are four substantial timetabled SSCs where students develop research skills in a topic and speciality of their choice. These SSCs are fully integrated and mapped with core learning outcomes and assessment, particularly with the ‘Evidence-Based Medicine and Research’ programme theme. These research skills are developed incrementally and applied fully in a research project in the fourth year. One-third of students also perform an optional intercalated one-year honours programme between years 2 and 3, usually across a wide range of honours schools at the biomedical science interface. Student feedback is insightful and demonstrates perceived attainment of research competencies. The establishment of these competencies is discussed in the context of enabling junior graduate doctors to be effective and confident at utilizing their research skills to effectively practice evidence-based medicine. This includes examining their own practice through clinical audit, developing an insight into the complexity of the evidence base and uncertainty, and also gaining a view into a career as a clinical academic.