The Perception of Clinical Medical Students Towards Medical Research and Interest as A Career at College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences, University of Sierra Leone - Abstract
Introduction: Gaining research experience as a medical student is linked to a successful postgraduate research career as well as a suitable research pathway. Additionally, it enables the physician to make judgments about clinical practice that are supported by data. Objectives: Aim of the study was to understand from medical students the perception of research studies as part of their course and explore factors that will influence their interest to pursue research as part of clinical practices in Sierra Leone. Methodology: A descriptive cross sectional study design was used. All clinical medical students of College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences, who were willing to participate were included in the study. Information was obtained using a self-administered questionnaire. Results: Out of 207 students, a total of 157 students participated in the Study (response rate 75.8%). The mean age was 26.2 years with 58% males and 42% female. Majority 96.8% were of the opinion that research is important to the practice of Medicine, whilst 73.2% opted for mandatory research work in Medical school and 64.3% agreed students were encouraged to participate in Research. Although only a minor proportion 35% have ever participated in research apart from the mandatory student project and 83.4% intend to pursue a career in research. Barriers to students’ involvement in research included lack of funding 38.2%, lack of time 26.7%, and lack of mentoring 20.4%. Predictors of research as a career among students showed both Male and Female students with increased interest to pursue a career in Research. Students who had previously participated in Research work and those with no previous experience both showed a higher proportion with interest to pursue a career in Research. The study also showed that students who had not been exposed to research, expressed interest to pursue a career in research (85.4 %) than those with previous research history (80.9%). Conclusion: The majority of students have favourable perceptions about research and express interest to pursue as a career. However there is a need to create a conducive environment such as mentoring, technical and resource to enable them to use their full potential in the area of research as part of their study and towards research career prospects. One systemic change request is to institutionalise a career guidance program as part of medical education.