All medical schools have Journal Club. 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.”

Reading and reviewing journal articles can be very helpful to medical students in linking basic science and clinical study. Once in practice, doctors need to understand an article’s implications and whether or not to apply it 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.”

More than just medicine

In addition, students need to learn to present information. They will be doing it during morning rounds during clinical rotations, as interns, residents, and fellows, if they progress to that level of specialization. Presenting is fundamental to academic medicine.

“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 with and share with each other, he adds.

An article in the Indian Journal of Community Medicine a few years ago pointed to the importance of journal clubs in undergraduate medical education.

“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.”

At OUM, students in their system-based modules must attend at least 75 percent of Journal Club sessions and attendance is tracked. Students have advanced access to the article being presented at each week’s session.

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