Hello and welcome!
The Covid-19 pandemic has brought a standstill to most parts of the world - shutting down economies, institutions, and schools. Education and work as we know it has been transformed. Medical schools and other MedEd organisations have capitalised on this time to offer a range of distance-learning alternatives: a surfeit of webinars and courses are available to medical students to access, across all specialties and levels. With didactic teaching or case-based discussions forming the core of such teaching, one wonders how we can value-add to the (already saturated) pool of knowledge?
Medic’s Journal Club is a journal club for medical students (or not) encompassing current research of interest across the specialties. In other words, Medics' Journal Club is *that* brainy well-rounded friend who aces med school and is involved in x number of research projects themselves whilst seemingly juggling a whole host of extracurriculars and leadership roles.
Why a journal club?
Keeping up-to-date on current research, understanding, appraising research are vital skillsets for medical students. However, the core modules taught in medical schools (to varying levels of engagement and success) can seem like a one-off application cumulating in project submission. In fact, oftentimes students do not have a chance to apply the journal club skills on a regular albeit smaller basis, refreshing their critical thinking knowledge whilst reading widely.
Thinking small while thinking long-term
We know how important the abovementioned is for any medical students keen to apply for training pathways – many specialties application process are bifold: consisting of a portfolio and an interview segment. In both segments, evidence of research skills is needed and particularly for the interview segment, where the candidate is required to critically appraise a paper or discuss particular topics on the spot. Instead of waiting until they are applying for training pathways and having to juggle work alongside study, why not foster a habit of reading widely and regularly applying those skills?
“You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems” James Clear, in Atomic Habits
In fact, changes that seem small often compound into something remarkable over time if sustained. Regular reading or discussion groups if persevered builds a wealth of knowledge, hones the ability to pose and answer questions, and can even be the springboard for their own research projects.
Target audience: anyone with keen interest in medical sciences, be they applicants to medical schools, current medics, postgrads, and more!
1) Condense and extract the essence of research articles (from reputable journals) and other noteworthy content
2) Present it in a more palatable way – aesthetic (we try), clear headers, and clear takeaways
3) Pose questions and next steps to catalyst action and thought
In the course of my own medical school journey, as with all my peers, I have dabbled in various research or scholarly projects from literature reviews, quality improvement projects, to designing my own research project. Whilst we were taught the skills, I found the initial application of those skills difficult. There was a steep learning curve between knowing and applying. I found the barrier to entry high:
1) Information overload – exceptionally long papers (how do I extract the key information?)
2) Language/linguistics of the papers – the style of writing and the meaning of key terms (especially statistical, oh the horror)
3) Length of the papers – in our busy, commitment-heavy lives, it takes (too) much time just to read, let alone digest through papers
4) Lack of appeal in terms of presentation! (cue: black and white fonts, tiny font size?)
5) What skills? (what is CASP? What resources should I use?)
As such, in a bid to make cultivating good habits easy, I thought that a website that tackles these barriers and fosters a community of well-read critical-thinking medics would be the solution. Stripped of the fearful awe and mind-boggling jargon that high impact journal articles sometimes command but re-representing them in a palatable manner (retaining the quality, of course!)
How to Navigate
1) Summaries: Here is the meat of the website. It contains excerpts and essence of high-impact journal articles or other noteworthy bite-sized information from a variety of fascinating content-creators and sources.
2) Books: Here you will find our authors' (medical-related) book suggestions.
3) How to Skills: Here you will find materials and resources to equip the medical student with skills of journal club and to aid them in their approach to research. With clear examples, it is hoped that this will complement their learning and application of said learning.