Sunday, April 26, 2009

Research woes

Sometimes I feel as if this course I'm in is setting me up to be a future researcher or a literature review critic. For a pass in my O&G course, we have to do a literature review (oral/written presentation) of a topic selected by our supervisor and mine is 'Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and Miscarriage'. Its not an easy topic as there are very limited articles relating the two clinical syndromes together and furthermore not much evidenced based medicine to support it. I'm supposed to do an oral presentation which is due in the last week of my O&G term and will be assessed by my supervisor and contributes to the final grade of my O&G term. I've researched some articles (which has been rather fustrating due to the scant number accessible on the web) and written/summarised them but I still need to do the final power point presentation. To be honest, I absolutely despise research or doing a literature review search. It is very time consuming as it involves reading through the countless number of articles/clinical studies/randomised controlled trials and then picking out the most suitable ones. Of course, its beneficial as you learn how to analyse and critically view the compiled material but then as medical students, we shouldn't really be debating on the results of trials/experiments and whether or not they prove a hypothesis, we should be concentrating on LEARNING the current material cited as the best evidence.

Another assignment that is concurrently due at the end of the 0&G term is the Indigenous Health assignment. We're supposed to write up the case histories on at least two (but not more than 5) Aboriginal patients and come up with a common issue predominantly found in these patients that impact on the patient's health, treatment and outcome as well as a literature review to support our findings. Its quite challenging and the common theme I came up with is 'predisposing health risk factors that lead to the high mortality and morbidity in the Indigenous population'. I've interviewed some Aborginal patients and found that most of them present at a more chronic or serious level. Furthermore, because they come from a low socioeconomic status (poor education, unemployment, poor housing conditions etc) and have vastly different cultural beliefs, this makes treatment even more difficult. They're often also non-compliant to their treatment so its a real hassle getting them to stay engaged in the intervention program as many of them feel that once a particular problem is solved, it is unneccessary to remain attached to the medical service. And so they leave only to come back a few months later with another problem. The role of the Aboriginal health worker in briding the gap between clinicians and other health workers is absolutely neccessary as they are the ones that can shed some light on the Aborginal cultural ways/beliefs plus Aboriginal patients feel more comfortable when they are interacting with 'one of their kind'. Because of the racial discrimination dating back historically, large socioeconomic gap and cultural difference between white Australians and Aborignals, many Aboriginals have grown distrustful of Western practitioners. Its no wonder Aboriginal patients can be classfied under a whole new clinical entity as current intervention measures need to address and take into account these factors first for it to be effective. Thankfully, this assignment is more or less finished and the only thing I have to do is cut down on the words (mine is way over the word limit of 2000 words) and tidy up some parts.

Overall, research work isn't all that bad. The main reason why I'm probably whining and complaining is that I rather spend my time studying general O&G or preparing for my finals in September. It can be enjoyable especially if it touches on a topic that is very relevant or one that you like. I don't mind doing it but I'd prefer that we have these assignments before our final year as we are already so PRESSED for time. Well, hopefully all goes well with the research and in the mean-time I desperately need to squeeze in some 'much needed' revision for my finals.

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