Evaluation of the publication rates of compulsory research projects of medical students in the Netherlands: a follow-up study of 10 cohorts of medical students

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BMJ open. 2022 Apr 4;12(4):e056053. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2021-056053.

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVES: The medical field is facing a shortage of clinician-scientists. Medical schools could foster the clinician-scientist workforce by providing students with research opportunities. Most medical schools offer research elective programs. Subsequently, a subset of physicians graduate without any research experience. Mandatory research projects may be more sufficient to train clinician-scientists, but require more supervision and study time. Understanding of the scientific results of mandatory research experiments is limited. This study aims to examine publication rates of a mandatory research experience, identify factors associated with publication, and include engagement in postdoctoral research.

DESIGN AND SETTING: Prospective follow-up study involving 10 compulsory research project cohorts of medical students from Leiden University Medical Center.

PARTICIPANTS: All medical students who conducted their research project between 2008 and 2018 (n=2329) were included.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: Publication rates were defined as peer-reviewed scientific publications, including research articles, reviews, and meeting abstracts published. Postdoctoral research engagement has been defined as participation in research and dissemination of research at scientific conferences or in journals.

RESULTS: A total of 644 (27.7%) of all required research experiences resulted in a publication, with students being primarily first (n=984, 42.5%) or second (n=587, 25.3%) and citation impact above the global average (average normalized journal score 1.29, average normalized citation score 1.23). Students who conducted their research at an academic center (adjusted OR 2.82; 95% CI 2.10 to 3.77), extended their research (adjusted OR 1.73; 95% CI 1.35 to 2.20), followed a path of excellence (adjusted OR 2.08; 95% CI 1.44 to 3.01), or clinical research (adjusted OR 2.08; 95% CI 1.15 to 3.74) or laboratory (adjusted OR 2.16; 95% CI 1.16 to 4.01) published their research more often. Later, as young doctors, this group disseminates their research results much more often at scientific conferences (adjusted OR 1.89; 95% CI 1.11 to 3.23) or in journals (adjusted OR 1 .98; 95% CI 1.14 to 3.43).

CONCLUSIONS: Our findings suggest that a significant subset of mandatory practical research projects with flexible learning pathways lead to tangible research outcomes with appropriate impact and that such successful experiences can be considered a stepping stone to a research-based career.

PMID:35379628 | DOI:10.1136/bmjopen-2021-056053

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