Friday, 27 January 2017

Crunching numbers to find out why people become GP proceduralists

The main lesson Jeremy Day learned from working in Bendigo on a summer research scholarship project is that research is not always a straightforward process. He started out looking at associations between personality and becoming a GP proceduralist using data from the longitudinal MABEL panel study. “It was promising, but there wasn’t enough association there to produce a really interesting article,” he said. “So we’ve gone on to see if we can find other variables we can add into it.”

Originally from central Queensland, Jeremy moved to Melbourne to study medicine where he completed Year 4C in 2016. “I was getting a bit sick of Melbourne and wanted to do something in the country.” So he applied for a two-week research scholarship in Bendigo.

Having never worked in research, Jeremy wasn’t sure what to expect. “I thought we’d be a bit of a lackey just doing data entry. I’ve been surprised that we get to do lots, and work on our own a lot.”

Research scholarship students work for two or three weeks with Monash researchers on their projects. Jeremy’s supervisor, Dr Deborah Russell, gave him a crash course in statistical analysis software, Stata®, “which can be a bit of a minefield for beginners” according to Jeremy. But it wasn’t the software that proved the most challenging aspect of working on the project.

“My project’s been a bit different [to those other students were working on] because it’s shifted around so much,” he explained. “They’ve worked with very strong guidelines. My literature search for personality turned into a dead end, which is sometimes what happens.” And so the direction of the project changed, though the focus remained on procedurally active GPs.

Jeremy knew nothing about research when he applied for a scholarship. He did know that postgraduate training programs are very competitive. “Research is so important with the way medicine is going; I thought it would be good to get some research experience under my belt.”

The summer research scholarship proved to be a “perfect” introduction to research. Some of his friends have completed a Bachelor of Medical Science (Hons) year. “They’ve had to work on a whole project by themselves and it’s taken a whole year. That was their introduction to research. This is a much better introduction: you get to try before you buy.”

Jeremy’s decided he wouldn’t want to pursue research as a career. “But I definitely want to do more research. It’s been a good experience.”

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