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Research in the Medical Curriculum in Australia and New Zealand 2021 - a window on innovation and good practice

Message from the Chair

The Research Committee of Medical Deans Australia and New Zealand (Medical Deans) promotes the importance of training our future doctors within the context of evidence-based medicine and ensuring they have the foundational research skills needed to become good doctors.As Chair of the Research Committee, I am proud to introduce the first annual volume of case studies to be published under the auspices of the committee, Research in the Medical Curriculum in Australia and New Zealand 2021 – a window on innovation and good practice.

The eight case studies included here illustrate the breadth and quality of research in the curriculum underway within the 23 medical schools in Australia and New Zealand. Publication of this volume comes at a time when Medical Deans is working together with other stakeholders to try to strengthen the training pathway for clinician researchers in Australia, to ensure we have sufficient numbers of medical students and doctors choosing to build a career in both research and clinical practice. The clinician researcher training pathway begins in medical school, and it is at this point that we hope to win over those students with a talent for and interest in research.

The importance of medical research has come to the forefront in the last two years as we have lived through the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is a good time to get the message out that medical research is fundamental to driving innovation and high-quality healthcare for our populations. Within these pages is a picture of how medical schools are currently delivering this message to their students through good practice, notable and innovative programs of research in the curriculum.

I commend these case studies to you and congratulate all the contributing schools and researchers on their fine work.

Distinguished Professor Annemarie Hennessy AM
Chair, Research Committee
Medical Deans Australia and New Zealand

Introduction

Despite challenges to work practices and time due to the impacts of COVID-19, we received a great response to our call for Expressions of Interest (EOIs) in contributing to the first volume of case studies on research in the curriculum to be published by the Research Committee of Medical Deans.

The 31 EOIs we received from medical schools in Australia and New Zealand were reviewed by committee members and a short list of 14 EOIs was presented to the full Research Committee for consideration. Included in this volume are the eight finalists from that process.

Each case study truly exemplifies the quality curricular research education occurring across all medical schools in Australia and New Zealand. All the programs described are grounded in strong pedagogical practice and naturally share common features in program design; yet each one is also unique, reflecting the individual school’s mission and context.

Some case studies show how research training programs are demonstrating mutually beneficial research and community partnerships, with research learning outcomes being equally important to clinical placements.

Other case studies demonstrate how schools have overcome the tyranny of large numbers of students by creatively adapting relevant and immersive training to provide a quality research training experience for every student.

Interestingly, most of the research programs profiled in this volume – even though some were established over a decade ago – highlight how schools are continually innovating and improving the research training content of their curricula.

Most importantly, each case study provides evidence of good practice in integrating foundational research skills with clinical learning. Wherever their careers take them, we want all our medical graduates to realise the importance to their clinical practice of the science and research that underpins medicine.

Professor Di Eley & Professor Kathryn Hird
Members, Research Committee
Medical Deans Australia and New Zealand