Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Learning the research process

Aun Chian Yeoh is used to squeezing extra-curricular interests into his busy schedule as a medical student. An interest in research led to stints working on data collection for short research projects based at Frankston hospital last year. His appetite whetted, he then spent two weeks of his summer break in Bendigo as a summer research scholar working on advanced care planning for primary care patients over 75 years-old.

Bendigo research team: Aun Chian Yeoh with Pam Harvey, Dr Bernadette Ward and Dr Dennis O'Connor

Aun Chian first visited Bendigo with the Year 2 rural program. “Pam Harvey and Michelle Moon did an amazing job showing us around rural health.” Comparing the Malaysian and Australian rural health systems continues to interest him, so, thinking he might not get another rural rotation, he applied to come back to Bendigo for a summer research scholarship working with supervisors Dr Bernadette Ward and Pam Harvey.

While he’s worked on projects after hours, two weeks dedicated to research gave him the chance to learn more about the research process. “I haven’t been involved in the planning process before or defining the research questions and I’m learning this is the tough bit,” he said. “But it’s a skill I wanted to learn.”

Far from spending his days in front of a computer, Aun Chian has also learned more about general practice in regional towns. Sitting in on sessions with Bendigo Year 4C academic coordinator, Dr Dennis O’Connor at the Bendigo Primary Health Centre, Aun Chian been working on over-75 health assessments as this is the cohort research subjects will come from. “Last Friday Dennis put me in a room by myself with a patient,” he said, still surprised at the experience. “This is what’s expected of a Year 4C student!” (Dr O’Connor did keep an eye on him as he would with Year 4C students.)

He’d definitely recommend the experience to students interested in research. “I’m lucky that I’ve been able to learn about the research process and have my contribution appreciated.

“The School of Rural Health staff were very encouraging and friendly, and always there to help. And the clinicians have time to speak to you – even medical students!”

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