Members of NEOMED’s new Committee for Student Clinical Research are eager to encourage incoming students to get involved in research projects.
Krish Dewan, a rising fourth-year College of Medicine student and CSCR president, talked with The Pulse about how the idea came to him on a flight home from a research conference he attended, and how the student chairs of the new Committee are ready to help their fellow students — including those who don’t know where to start!
What is CSCR?
KD: The Committee for Student Clinical Research is composed of multiple student chairs for individual medical specialties, including cardiology, ophthalmology, urology, dermatology, neurosurgery, pulmonology and cardiothoracic and orthopedic surgery. This committee serves as a valuable resource for early-stage students who are looking for opportunities, but don’t know the process to get connected. CSCR exists to serve these needs, to foster interest in clinical research among our student body, and to involve senior students as mentors.
There are many subtle aspects to conducting research in a given field, from proper manuscript preparation to which conferences to submit abstracts and hot topics. Above all, it’s invaluable to have someone to whom one can reach out for the small questions that students inevitably will have when first embarking on the research journey.
How are students named as a CSCR chair?
KD: Each student chair is selected through an application process based on considerable experience in conducting clinical research in that particular field. Due to their experience, these student chairs are also well-connected with individuals – physicians and researchers – who routinely work with medical students.
What inspired you to create CSCR?
KD: I had presented one my research team’s studies at a conference in January and was on my flight back home, flipping through my phone pictures from the weekend, when I started to reflect on how much research has meant to me over the past few years. It has allowed me to brush shoulders with many renowned experts in the field – names I had only seen in textbooks – and seek opportunities I could have never otherwise accessed. I’ve met many other amazingly talented and accomplished medical students from other institutions who shared my interest in research and could relate to its impact on their professional journey.
These experiences compelled me to share that with other students. In conversations with many of my peers, as well as students I have mentored, all of us agreed that Northeast Ohio has a wealth of institutions to benefit from with regards to clinical research, but that it takes a lot of work to find mentors individually and build those meaningful relationships. I realized that there was no centrally organized resource at NEOMED to help make that process easier, so I decided to start one.
In your opinion, why is research important for medical students?
KD: I would encourage any medicine, pharmacy or graduate studies student, whether considering an academic career or not, to seriously consider conducting at least some research. When done correctly and with the appropriate guidance, research develops some very critical skills in a budding physician. These include contextualization and acceleration of knowledge, self-reliance and responsibility, as well as critical thinking.
What does CSCR have planned for the 2019-2020 academic year?
KD: The student organization serves more as a committee than an interest group, but we have been planning a few events for the upcoming year centered on the theme of preparing students to conduct clinical research. These events will be in the form of informal workshops run by senior medical students to describe critical skills and resources required for clinical research. Stay tuned!
Another great resource in the works as a result of the committee is a series of informational podcasts/webinars created by members of the committee’s executive board, including myself and Natasha Kesav, our ophthalmology chair and National Institutes of Health Research Fellow. We anticipate rolling these out soon, tentatively starting this fall, in time for our new cohort of students to make full use of them.
What do you want students to know about CSCR?
KD: The leadership of the committee is fluid. We anticipate that specialties covered by chairs will change from year to year depending on the specialty profile of senior medical students. As a result, we welcome any student who would like to fill a gap by becoming a chair for a specialty not covered. The initiative is meant to foster not only research but also leadership and mentorship!