Dr Shambhavi Vashist,

MBBS NC Medical College and Hospital, India

Dr Ikshita Nagar, MBBS,

Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Subharti Medical College, India

Residency in your chosen field is meant to prepare you for the outcomes you will face as a professional later in life. Sadly, it is not a road laid with petals, but paved with cobblestones representing challenges and opportunities during your time as a resident. The toil, emotion and unwavering dedication a resident puts in their postgraduate (PG) thesis is unfathomable. But with the innumerable roadblocks, these efforts are taken for granted. So, what are some of these obstacles?

Meeting with your guide: The esteemed doctor, who is your guide, has to see patients round the clock, attend to his patients while on rounds, conduct didactics for the students and is in charge of some committee made by the administration is not quite approachable as it seems. To secure a meeting and sit down to discuss the topic is a tough break!

Finalizing a topic: Clinical workload in residency is demanding as it is, and deciding a topic for your thesis is being in a pickle. Undoubtedly, we can decide the topic based on the volume of patients that we see but conducting a research based solely on that is not what PG thesis is about. Exploring a plethora of research topics and navigating our way through each of the potential topics is arduous.

Limited research exposure: Well, we have got to agree that nobody is born researcher! Gaining effective mentorship and guidance in the research domain is a daunting task. When starting from scratch, we tend to seek help from internet and AI tools, but what we need for real is a step-by-step approach towards publication of thesis including feedback and periodic assistance.

Resources and data collection: Access to literature databases like PubMed and Scopus and understanding their intricacies is a challenging task. Oftentimes, statistical expertise including data analysis and its interpretation is wanted and it is a herculean task to get them to report the accurate results to you in time. Data collection is grueling work in remote hospitals that do not have a generous influx of patients. So, putting a cap on minimum number of patients required for completion of thesis does not seem quite a good idea by the administration!

Ethical committee approval: Often, this process is very complex and time-consuming since it requires thorough examination of a research proposal. Sometimes, getting an ethical clearance from multiple review boards is necessary especially when your thesis topic involves interdisciplinary collaboration. After understanding all the nuances of the current ethical guidelines and going through all the hassle, you actually want to hear a “yes”!

CTRI: Documentation required by the Clinical Trials Registry-India and understanding the CTRI guidelines in a time constraint is a tough mission. They require novelty and submission ultimately circles back to the quality of the topic you selected.

These are just a bunch of hardships that a resident might go through. Let’s ponder over how these difficulties can be managed.

Here are some simple solutions to all the above problems, in hopes to make your research journey a little easier and smoother!

Meeting your guide:

  • Schedule regular meetings: Proactively schedule meetings with your guide well in advance to ensure dedicated time for discussion.
  • Be concise and prepared: Come to meetings with a clear agenda and specific questions to maximize the efficiency of your interactions.
  • Utilize alternative communication channels: If face-to-face meetings are difficult to arrange, consider communicating via email or scheduling virtual meetings.

Finalizing a topic:

  • Start early: Begin brainstorming potential research topics early to allow ample time for exploration and refinement.
  • Seek guidance: Consult with your mentors, and peers to gather insights and feedback on potential research topics.
  • Narrow down options: Focus on topics that align with your interests, clinical experiences, and available resources to streamline the decision-making process.

Limited Research Exposure:

  • Seek mentorship: Identify experienced researchers or faculty members who can provide guidance and support throughout the research process.
  • Utilize educational resources: Take advantage of workshops, seminars, and online courses focused on research methodology and publication ethics.
  • Collaborate with peers: Engage with residents or colleagues who share similar research interests to foster collaboration and knowledge exchange.

Resources and data collection:

  • Utilize institutional resources: Make use of institutional subscriptions to access literature databases and statistical software. You can also ask your college’s statistician for help.
  • Collaborate with experts: Seek collaboration with statisticians, researchers, or professors who can assist with data analysis and interpretation.
  • Consider alternative data collection methods: Explore innovative approaches such as prospective data collection or utilization of existing databases.

Ethical Committee Approval:

  • Start early: Initiate the ethical approval process well in advance to allow sufficient time for review and revisions.
  • Seek guidance: Consult with your college’s research ethics committee or experienced researchers for guidance on navigating the approval process.
  • Ensure thorough documentation: Provide proper documentation of your research protocol and informed consent procedures to facilitate the review process.

CTRI Documentation:

  • Familiarize yourself with guidelines: Take the time to thoroughly review the CTRI guidelines and requirements to ensure compliance.
  • Seek assistance: Reach out to experienced researchers or institutional support staff for guidance on completing CTRI documentation.
  • Plan ahead: Incorporate CTRI documentation requirements into your research timeline to avoid last-minute delays.

By seeking mentorship, utilizing available resources, and approaching each challenge with resilience and determination, students can overcome the hurdles and make meaningful contributions to medical research and patient care. Remember, perseverance and dedication are key to achieving success in research endeavors during your degree.

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