All medical schools emphasize the importance of a Journal Club in fostering evidence-based practice. But why?

“Students must begin learning how to read and assess journal articles in order to ultimately provide better patient care,” says Ahmed Muhsin, MBChB, MPH, Director of Research at OUM and facilitator of its weekly Journal Club. “Reading journal articles should be a part of their studies as students and a part of their clinical practice as physicians.”

The act of reading and critically discussing medical research articles is instrumental in evidence-based practice and in bridging the gap between basic science and clinical study. Practicing doctors must be able to discern a study’s research utilization implications and whether or not to apply them to a patient’s care.

“Physicians should be able to assess the strength of the evidence,” says Dr. Muhsin. “They will have to decide if the authors present a case that is persuasive enough to influence a patient’s treatment, or if the evidence is weak and requires further investigation.”

How Journal Club Goes Beyond Medicine

Moreover, students must acquire presentation skills, vital during clinical rotations, and as they advance to become interns, residents, and potentially fellows. This skill set is fundamental to most academic institutions, even more so to post-graduate medical education.

“Even students not presenting should attend to support their colleagues,” says Dr. Muhsin. In a distance learning environment such as OUM’s, Journal Club also provides yet another opportunity for students to meet and share with each other, he adds.

Highlighting the historical roots of Journal Club and its evolution as a critical component of medical education, an article in the Indian Journal of Community Medicine underscores its value.

“While journal clubs are very common in the postgraduate education system, they have been relatively underused in the undergraduate medical schools. However, these journal clubs can be very effective platforms where the students can gather first-hand knowledge on analyzing, evaluating, dissecting, and utilizing the scientific literature,” says author Tamoghna Biswas, MBBS, Medical College of Kolkata, Kolkata, India. “In the era of evidence-based medicine, analyzing the quality, validity, and relevance of the evidence is a skill that must be taught from the early medical school days.”

In OUM’s MD program, participation in at least 50 Journal Club sessions and at least one article presentation are requirements. This ensures students are well-versed in medical research assessment, from abstract analysis to understanding statistical analysis. It fosters a culture of continuous learning, critical thinking, and peer review, preparing students for the complexities of modern medical practice.

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