In the ever-changing world of academia, one skill that’s essential for students – especially medical students – is Research Writing. As such, for the past two years, the University of Ibadan Medical Students Association has put together a Research Clinic to equip students with this vital skill.
As part of activities for their tenure, the 2021/2022 UIMSA Executive Council, via the office of the General Secretary, organized the UIMSA Research Clinic 3.0. The program, spread out over the course of three days, served as an introductory course to research writing. It was attended by both UIMSAites and non-UIMSAites alike.
Below is a review of all three days of the program.
Day 1 (Introduction to Medical Research Writing)
The introductory session was held virtually on the 2nd of July, 2022. Kudos has to be given to the publicity team for their efforts at ensuring a sizeable turnout, given the circumstances of strike action and dwindling interest among students.
At exactly 10 am, the moderator, Abdulhammed Babatunde of the 2k19 class, kicked off proceedings by welcoming attendees and reading out the order of events. This was followed by a short address from the President of the Association, Jaachimma Nwagbara. She expressed gladness at the turnout, and she implored participants to take full advantage of the opportunity presented by the course, highlighting its benefits for students in the twenty-first century.
Afterward, Abdulhammed returned to introduce the facilitator for the day, Mr. Ehis Aigbonoga. Mr. Aigbonoga, a sixth-year medical student at the LMU Teaching Hospital, Germany, is currently the Head of the Research and Innovation Committee at Innores International, an international research and innovation organization. He also serves as the President of the College Research and Innovation Hub, Ibadan, which in conjunction with UIMSA brought about Research Clinic 3.0. All of these, as well as a few more notable achievements, were read out in his citation to the audience.
Ehis wasted no time getting to the subject matter of the lecture. According to him, this lecture was to serve as an introductory section, centered on the various types of study design in medical research, steps to carry out medical research, and the structure of a research manuscript. He delivered well within his allotted time.
He explored several avenues to make it more of an interactive session than a lecture. For example, he used Google forms to acquire the research interests of participants and also to test their understanding of what had been taught. Personally, his was the most engaging of all four facilitated sessions as there was also a question and answer session for participants who sought clarification or more information.
This was also the only day on which timing was strictly adhered to.
Day 2 (Research Methodology & Ethics)
Akin to the initial session, a link to the meeting as well as details of the program, and the citation of the day’s facilitator, were sent a day beforehand.
Day 2 took place virtually on the 10th of July, 2022. It was previously scheduled to hold on the 9th but had to be shifted due to the public holiday. The late arrival of participants also meant that it commenced a few minutes later than was intended.
The moderator for the session, Isibor Wilson, welcomed attendees amidst self-introductions. Afterward, he read out a brief citation of the facilitator, Mr. Boluwatife Adewale. Boluwatife, a final year medical student at the University of Ibadan, is an aspiring physician-scientist with interests in the intersection of molecular neuroscience, computational biology, and precision medicine
After a brief introduction of himself, Boluwatife quickly outlined his objectives for the session. These included how to ask good research questions, tools and frameworks used to answer research questions, types of study designs, basic statistics, and the role of innovation in research. He discussed the FINER (Feasible, Interesting, Novel, Ethical and Relevant) criteria used to determine the validity of one’s research questions, qualities of good research questions, the importance of data collection as well as several ethical principles of research.
Much like Day 1, attendees at this session were drawn not only from UIMSA, but also from other medical schools, and other departments within UI. However, there was a slight drop in attendance from the first session.
On a side note, the fact that Boluwatife and Ehis are both still in medical school made the reality of being a student-researcher feel a lot more feasible. This sentiment is shared by quite a few UIMSAites I spoke with, including a third-year medical student, Victor-Femi Lawal, for whom “it (their inclusion as speakers) was an especially nice touch”.
Day 3 (Research in Paediatrics and Child Health/Grant and Proposal Writing)
Fliers released prior to the commencement of the program will reveal that there were meant to be four, rather than three, sessions. However, the session on Grant and Proposal Writing which was to hold on the 16th of July had to be moved up by a week and merged.
According to the General Secretary, Odeleke Maryam, whose office was in charge of planning and organizing the program, the postponement had to be made due to scheduling conflicts on the parts of the speakers, despite the fact that an agreement had already been made. Fortunately, it still worked out fine for all involved.
Unlike preceding days, Day 3, which took place on the 23rd of July, 2022, was a hybrid event, held physically at the Famewo Common Room, Alexander Brown Hall, and streamed for virtual attendees.
The first session was facilitated by Professor Regina Oladokun, the Head of the Paediatrics Department of the University College Hospital, Ibadan, and a serial researcher. Her lecture on “Research in Paediatrics and Child Health: Opportunities and Peculiarities” served as a deep dive into the application of research in hospital settings. She also discussed research ideas, and protocol for a research proposal, and highlighted opportunities for research in paediatrics and child health as a medical student. I particularly enjoyed how well she brought basic research concepts to life.
Following this session, a mentee of the Professor, in the person of Dr. Ore Morankiyo came up to give a brief account of his experience as a student-researcher. He emphasized the importance of showing maximum interest and staying open to receiving research opportunities. This was accompanied by a brief Q&A session.
The final session of Research Clinic 3.0 was facilitated by Dr Rufus Akinyemi. Dr. Akinyemi, an experienced medical practitioner, is a Consultant Neurologist at the University College Hospital, Ibadan. He lectured on the topic ‘Introduction to Research Grant/Proposal Writing’, discussing the various sources of research grants, how to write successful proposals, and offered tips against challenges that might be faced during the process of proposal writing.
Day 3 was marred by a slow start and poor transmission for virtual participants in sharp contrast to the previous days. Apparently, the latter was due to unforeseen technical difficulties faced by the organizing team which according to the General Secretary, “ they were able to overcome as gracefully as they could, by communicating effectively with the participants and employing their backup plans”.
Overall, Research Clinic 3.0 was a relatively successful program. For research newbies like myself, I’m confident that a lot was gained all through the three-day event. It’s my sincere hope that upcoming programs like the UIMSA Virtual Games are held to equally high standards.