August 26, 2019

Case Study: How Research to Publication helped Nova Medical Schools in Portugal bridge an education gap and develop better researchers

Dr David Rodrigues, General Practioner (GP), co-ordinates a small team of GPs in a rural location outside Lisbon. Alongside his work as a clinician, David is also a researcher and teaches at the University of Lisbon (NOVA), Faculty of Medicine in the GP department.

“My work as a researcher makes me a better GP. Equally, my clinical work makes me a better researcher. I share this view with my medical students, and why, as a clinician, it is so important to have an understanding of research. Medicine is rapidly changing and research is the driver of that change.

“It’s important that students are familiar with the research cycle, and able to understand how to integrate research into their work and decision making as doctors. Despite this, many students and junior doctors lack sound basic knowledge on medical research.

“BMJ’s Research to Publication, enables students to build up a thorough understanding of the research cycle. The programme starts with basic epidemiology – providing students with a solid foundation for the more advanced modules that follow. Through the programme, Research to Publication focuses on what’s important for students to know and enables them to build on their knowledge from there.

“NOVA has a strategic objective to provide students with access to online learning. Alongside this, NOVA aims to broaden its research offering to students, particularly around the development of research studies. To create our own online programme would take a lot of resources and time. I had first come across BMJ’s Research to Publication as a student. BMJ’s content is always of high quality and when I revisited the course and saw how user-friendly and organised it was, I knew it would benefit students across NOVA. In addition, being an online programme, it enables students to manage their own schedules, learning at a pace that suits them.

“When I introduced the idea of providing students with access to Research to Publication, many of my colleagues were quite sceptical. I needed to make the case to the head of the GP department. Following this, the programme content needed to be approved by the university, in line with its strict scientific responsibilities. BMJ supported me and provided information to demonstrate how Research to Publication could add value to our student offering. Working with BMJ on this, made the process towards adopting Research to Publication very easy.

“We ran Research to Publication for the first year as an experiment. By the end of the year, the benefits of the programme were clear. We exceeded our target number of student sign ups and decided to adopt Research to Publication for the following year.

“In our second year, our usage of Research to Publication evolved. We had learned a great deal from year one and were able to develop how we supported students on the programme. Student feedback from year one allowed us to improve the programme and meet the needs they pointed out. Namely, they felt they would benefit from more interaction with peers and the need to improve time management. So, in year two, we held an opening event on campus to create a group spirit and provide an opportunity for students to set up their own support networks for the duration of the programme.

“BMJ produced a guide, providing a plan for students to follow. For the students, this was enormously helpful. To complement the guide, and to help students with the challenging nature of the course, we also provided a suggested schedule for them to follow. Unlike year one, we were very directive and strongly advised the order they should complete the modules in.

“At the end of the year, we will be running a closing event on campus, with experts in statistics and epidemiology and other topics students asked us to cover. Research to Publication provides all the content they need, so the purpose of the event is to produce a forum where students can ask questions about their own research.

“Research to Publication is a ready-made, good quality, online resource that provides universities and hospitals with a great tool to develop students and doctors understanding of research. Adopting Research to Publication, has enabled NOVA to achieve its strategic objectives to provide more online learning and broaden our research offering. From speaking to the students, I can clearly see how it is giving them an excellent grounding in the research cycle.

“Before adopting Research to Publication, we used to have a number of discussions within the GP department on how to provide our own online content and what it should contain. Adopting Research to Publication filled that gap and allowed us to move forward. Now we focus on how can we reach more students and how to broaden our educational offer.

“Research to Publication makes my job as an educator much easier.”