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Student research in Nepal

Posted by plosmedicine on 30 Mar 2009 at 04:51 GMT

Author: 'Bishnu' 'Giri'
Position: Medical Student
Institution: Manipal College of Medical Sciences, Pokhara, Nepal
Additional Authors: Dr.P.Ravi Shankar
Submitted Date: March 10, 2006
Published Date: March 17, 2006
This comment was originally posted as a “Reader Response” on the publication date indicated above. All Reader Responses are now available as comments.

We read with interest the student forum article "Why medical students are crucial to the future of research in South Asia" [1]. We, a student researcher and a faculty mentor from the Manipal College of Medical Sciences (MCOMS), Pokhara, Nepal agree with the authors that it is important to target medical students for research early in their careers.

At MCOMS, we have an international student body with students from Nepal, India, Sri Lanka and other countries. I (BRG) was introduced to the basics of research methodology and critical appraisal of literature during the preclinical years. The pharmacology department has played an important role in promoting critical thinking among medical students.
Direct participation by medical students in research is widely regarded as a valuable component of medical education and a stimulus to a medical research career [2]. During our fourth semester of study, I (BRG) and my friends were assigned research projects to introduce us to research methodology, create awareness of drug use problems in the community and to teach critical appraisal skills [3]. The projects were linked to rational use of medicines.

At MCOMS the emphasis, for a variety of reasons, is on applied research. During our years of clinical training we have been involved in research projects. We conducted a retrospective study on the morbidity profile and prescribing patterns among outpatients attending the Manipal Teaching hospital (MTH). I (BRG) and my class mates were involved in all stages of the research project from conception, to carrying out the study, analysis of results and writing the manuscript. At present we are carrying out a study on surgical site infections among hospitalized patients in MTH. These projects are being carried out under my (PRS) and my colleague's (Dr. Chandrasekhar TS) guidance.

However, in our medical school, only a very small proportion of medical students are actively involved in research. Most students concentrate on preparing for assessment tests and university examinations. Many problems hinder us from pursuing research. We lack funds and support infrastructure. We have pursued research on our own interest and the projects we have done do not carry any marks during the assessment.

We agree with the authors of the student forum article that elective slots should be made available to young researchers and prior research experience should be considered while admitting students to postgraduate courses. Community-based research should be strongly encouraged. The Kathmandu University Medical Journal has started a student section and we believe that other medical journals in Nepal should follow suit. A corpus should be set apart for student research projects. Associations of medical students should be formed in different countries and greater networking among medical students should be encouraged. The possibility of cooperation with other health professionals and students in allied professions must be explored. Medical students "sensitized to research" and aware of the social, cultural and economic milieu of their patients can be a major asset to their countries.

Giri BR, Shankar PR,
Mr.Bishnu R Giri
Seventh Semester medical student

Dr.P.Ravi Shankar MD
Asst. Professor, Department of Pharmacology
Manipal College of Medical Sciences
Pokhara, Nepal.

1) Aslam F, Shakir M, Qayyum MA, (2005) Why medical students are crucial to the future of research in South Asia. PLoS Med 2: e322. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.0020322.
2) Kemph JP, Claybrook JR, Sodeman WA Sr. (1984) Summer research program for medical students. J Med Educ 59: 708-13.
3) Shankar PR, Dubey AK, (2005). Student research projects as an aid to learning pharmacology. Med Educ 39: 1075. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2929.2005.02272.x.

Competing interests declared: We declare that we have no competing interests