Guiding Preclinical Medical Students in Finding, Synthesizing, and Communicating Translational Basic Research Literature: Roles for Basic Science Research Mentors

Steve A. Maxwell, Robin Fuchs-Young, Gregg B. Wells, Geoffrey M. Kapler, Gloria M. Conover, Sheila Green, Catherine Pepper, Barbara Gastel, David P. Huston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Problem Understanding and communicating medical advances driven by basic research, and acquiring foundational skills in critically appraising and communicating translational basic research literature that affects patient care, are challenging for medical students to develop. Approach The authors developed a mandatory course from 2012 to 2018 at Texas A&M University College of Medicine to address this problem. Medical Student Grand Rounds (MSGR) trains first-year students to find, critically assess, and present primary research literature about self-selected medically relevant topics. With basic science faculty mentoring, students completed milestones culminating in oral presentations. Students learned to search literature databases and then choose a clinical subject using these skills. They outlined the clinical subject area background and a mechanistic research topic into a clinical problem based on deeper evaluation of primary research literature. "Mechanistic" was defined in this context as providing experimental evidence that explained the "how" and "why" underlying clinical manifestations of a disease. Students received evaluations and feedback from mentors about discerning the quality of information and synthesizing information on their topics. Finally, students prepared and gave oral presentations, emphasizing the primary literature on their topics. Outcomes In the early stages of the course development, students had difficulty critically assessing and evaluating research literature. Mentored training by research-oriented faculty, however, dramatically improved student perceptions of the MSGR experience. Mentoring helped students develop skills to synthesize ideas from basic research literature. According to grades and self-evaluations, students increased proficiency in finding and interpreting research articles, preparing and delivering presentations, and understanding links among basic and translational research and clinical applications. Next Steps The authors plan to survey fourth-year students who have completed MSGR about their perceptions of the course in the context of clinical experiences in medical school to guide future refinements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)684-688
Number of pages5
JournalAcademic Medicine
Volume97
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

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