Thursday, August 01, 2013
The University of Maryland School of Medicine has implemented a new course to stimulate critical thinking and enhance intellectual acuity and inquisitiveness in medical students, in order to prepare them for the challenges of clinical practice or research. The course – called Foundations of Research and Critical Thinking – strengthens the curriculum’s focus on research and critical thinking by requiring each medical student to create and execute a scholarly scientific research project. Each student will select a mentor for his/her project, prepare a proposal, and complete either a clinical, translational, or basic science research project or a grant application. The course represents an innovative approach to medical education that is in place in few medical schools nationwide.
The Foundations of Research and Critical Thinking course has two components. First, in their first year of medical school, students will take part in a series of lectures and small-group sessions. Lectures focus on topics such as “The Physician as an Academic Investigator,” “How to Critically Evaluate and Write a Scientific Paper,” and “Ethical and Responsible Conduct of Research.” The second component of the course is a scholarly project that for most students will take place during the summer between the first and second years of medical school.
For their scholarly project, students will develop a proposal for a basic, translational, or clinical biomedical research project. With the assistance of their mentor, they will complete the research project and submit a final report summarizing their work. As an alternative, they can complete an extensive grant application describing a research hypothesis and project. Students may also satisfy the requirements of the course by completing one of the school’s dual-degree programs, combining the medical degree with a PhD or a Master’s degree – the combined MD/MPH (Master of Public Health) program, for example.
“This is the latest step in our ongoing effort to make our medical education comprehensive, teaching our future doctors every aspect of medicine, from science to patient care,” says George Fantry, MD, Assistant Dean for Student Research and Education and Associate Professor, Department of Medicine. “We are enhancing the skills of our students to include intellectual acuity and critical thinking, enabling them to become sharper physicians and biomedical scientists.”
“We hope that they will use these skills to provide better patient care and revolutionize medicine with biomedical innovation,” says Donald R. Matteson, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Physiology, and Director of Student Research Education and the dual degree programs. “They’ll use these skills in problem-solving as they diagnose and treat patients, or as scientists as they create and study research hypotheses to advance medicine. This course is keeping the University of Maryland School of Medicine in the top tier of medical schools, providing students with the best education possible.”
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