Assessing medical students’ preparedness to engage in clinical research practice.

Assessing medical students’ preparedness to engage in clinical research practice.

School:  Edinburgh Medical School  [Clinical Sciences]

Team Members: Danielle Marlow, Jeremy Hughes, Carol Porteous


The Academy of Medical Sciences has reported a disconnect in clinical research education, starting at the undergraduate level. To explore this important area of training, we propose an exploratory education research study that aims to assess the preparedness of undergraduate medical students during their Year 3 intercalated research projects. For many students, this project is their first foray into clinical research and research methods.

In the study, we will explore students’ diverse perspectives, conceptual knowledge, and their preparedness to undertake clinical research beginning with the key insights of the Academy of Medical Sciences report and further investigating the training needs, resources, environments, and experiences that can enhance and optimise undergraduate learning.

 ‘There is an urgent need to enhance the NHS-academia interface to better harness the research expertise and capability of the NHS for the health and wealth of the nation.’   The Academy of Medical Sciences sets out a series of actions to achieve six key outcomes that they believe are essential for enhancing the interface between the NHS and the UK’s academic biomedical and health research sector. Included in these actions is: ‘Ensuring undergraduate curricula equip healthcare staff with the skills to engage with research’, (1) with the following recommendations: a. ‘To ensure all healthcare professionals can engage with research, we recommend that: a. Professional organisations responsible for the development and regulation of undergraduate degrees for healthcare students should ensure that each curriculum offers a research component.’ (1) b. ‘HEIs should provide a range of opportunities for undergraduates to be exposed to research, from intercalated degrees to short-term research projects. Research funders should explore how they could support such projects.’ (1) Using a mixed methods research design, the project will: (1) build relationships with undergraduate students as partners; (2) explore their thoughts and reflections on what is involved when undertaking their research project in Year 3; (3) consider from their perspective what could make a successful and impactful research project; and (4) explore how this project could impact their long-term research and career aspirations. The Year 3 BMedSci in Health Science programme comprises 45 students across three streams: Medical Sciences, Surgical Sciences and Primary Care. Student partners from this programme will be invited to take part in a one-day event, including a townhall with students and follow-on workshop to gather key feedback, stories, and experiences. When the results have been collated, a student feedback mechanism will be enacted to gather consensus on what key improvements might be prioritised.

Final report

Download the final report (PDF)