Unlike many science degrees, which require students to submit a dissertation during their final year, medicine more so requires students to pass many examinations to qualify.
However, in the curriculum, UCD embeds the principles of academia and evidence-based medicine early on. This includes becoming acclimated to the critical appraisal of research papers, citing research, using databases and the fundamentals of statistical analysis, so that by the time we become doctors, we should be accustomed to using robust evidence in our clinical practice.
Research can also be in many forms – it can be quantitative and involve mainly data analysis; it can be in the laboratory and involve microscopes, cells and test tubes; or it can be clinical research involving real patients.
UCD provides many opportunities to be involved in research. One such example would be the Student Summer Research Awards (SSRA), where students can enroll to take part in a research project with a supervisor over the summer break. This research is then presented to a panel of academicians at the beginning of the autumn trimester alongside many other students, and the research that is best-presented and most interesting are qualified into the next round of presentations, before one student is finally selected for the SSRA award for the year. Winning, however, isn’t the main goal for most, but instead is about the experience of scientific research.
UCD also offers opportunities for doing research abroad throughout the year, often of which are sponsored by the School of Medicine. This includes opportunities in different institutions in the US, Asia or even being part of more hands-on research projects in Africa.
During my summer break in my second year, I had the chance to apply to and be selected for a summer research school in Birmingham on antimicrobial resistance and stewardship, of which was completely sponsored by UCD.
For those who prefer to explore peer-review and the process of publishing research, taking part in the UCD Student Medical Journal is also another opportunity for involvement as a platform for the publication of student abstracts and articles.