Holistic approach to education
I recently happened to attend a “peer learning network session” where the participants were people from not-for-profit organizations worldwide. I attended this virtual session, not expecting much because I knew that the context of discussion would mainly be based on primary education. But to my surprise, the points discussed turned out to be very relevant in QMed’s niche area too.
How could QMed get more holistic in its approach?
I started to think on how we could use all the learning, for our specialized area – teaching literature searching and reference management in health sciences institutions.
I realized that the questions we needed answers to are:
Who are the beneficiaries?
Who are the stakeholders?
Who needs to do what?
Who can help us?
How do we get fully holistic?
Who are our beneficiaries?
We know that the beneficiaries of our offerings are – students and professionals in all health sciences streams. Students need to know how to search correctly for their academics and research. They need to know how to reference, for the same purposes. Importantly they need to do these without wasting time, and ensuring that they get the best of literature, and not miss anything important. Professionals need to know all these, not only for academics and research, but also for evidence based practice and for contributing to Indian evidence. Which means that the ultimate beneficiaries are the people who get treated by health professionals.
Who are our stake holders? Who needs to do what?
Our stakeholders include our beneficiaries, and also librarians, publishers, database vendors, journal providers and more. If we divided the beneficiaries ( students, teachers and practitioners) into contexts, professionals could also be authors, journal editors, editorial board members, policy makers, members of bodies like the MCI, conference organizers and more. While students would not be doing these jobs, they could be authors
All of them will save a lot of time if these skills are taught to them right from the undergraduate days. The ICMR STS project has an increasing number of students every year in order to increase research skills. And the skills of searching & referencing taught to them can make a big difference to them. Every health professional and student needs to understand this.
The stakeholders also includes librarians and information specialists. This group has to work at the responsibility of choosing the most cost effective resources to subscribe to and continuously offering training, mentoring and help to every researcher, clinician and student.
Policy makers have to be aware of the need to understand what constitutes the best evidence to make their policies. Board members of bodies involved in education (the various councils and boards) need to understand the importance of the skills we teach and the need of the same in the curriculum.
The educated patient community has to also understand what constitutes evidence, and what resources they need to responsibly study, if they wish to be informed and have a useful doctor-patient interaction
Journal editors, publishers and related professionals have to accept papers with the best of references, based on well done literature search. They need to understand that the research pool will gain because researchers will create better publications with such skills.
Who can help us achieve the above?
QMed wants to get a pool of people who strongly believe that these skills must be taught across the country. Such training should be part of the curriculum. While there is no need to have it as a “formal subject with exams”, every student and faculty must learn these skills. And the teaching now must begin at the UG level. The evaluation of these skills needs to be done by some methods like:
- Search strategies should be included in the PG thesis (Faculty should be able to judge if the steps are correct and if a resident has searched all available sources)
- In posters, presentations, journal clubs, assignments etc – the search done and the references should be questioned and evaluated
More methods need to be planned for
We wish to have interactions with a lot of students, faculty and practitioners of all health sciences streams, and see how we can take all this way ahead. We need to see how we can make this more holistic. And finally we would like faculty to themselves provide a solution as to how they make themselves accountable for better learning, so that they ensure that students learn well too.
Do write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to be part of our big picture. And of course if you have any ideas, those are welcome too!