An intense focus on research by medical students has earned international praise for the Niagara Regional Campus of McMaster University's Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine.
The Association of American Medical Colleges recently awarded "The Star of Education Innovation" to the campus in recognition of the school's efforts of "promoting scholarship through development of a positive research culture."
The award was from the association's Group on Regional Medical Campuses.
"The real stars for research innovation here is the faculty, led by Dr. Matt Greenway, and also all the medical students involved in research projects," said Karl Stobbe, regional assistant dean of the Niagara Regional Campus.
"From practical projects to find ways of ensuring better health care to using theatre to solve the problems of Niagara's extremely poor accessing the health system, the culture here is to advance care."
The regional medical school campus opened in 2008 and by 2010 had a pilot program to encourage students' interest in research. The first year, 10 per cent of medical students participated in research, and today, 90 per cent of the medical school class are involved.
Of the 28 students in the class graduating in May 2016, 26 were involved in research projects in the school, local hospitals and the community, including:
- Laura Walmsley and Melanie Fortune created a program placing first-year medical students alongside working nurses to learn about interprofessional care.
- Rahat Hossain, Natalie Ramsay, Mo Moore and Michael Milo used a play to address health issues for very poor people in Niagara Region. They interviewed residents living in extreme poverty, then worked with a Toronto theatre company to present the problems on stage and invited solutions from audiences of health care, social services and community members.
- While a student, Elan Hahn led several investigations, including a quality improvement project in emergency rooms, to increase patient safety for traumas, and shared decision making for prostate cancer patients. Hahn is now a pathology resident at the University of Toronto.
- Another graduate, Ben van der Woerd, published a case study and undertook quality improvement research in the area of surgical safety. He's now a resident at Western University in London, Ont.
It's unusual for smaller medical campuses like Niagara to have such a depth of student research activities underway, said Matt Greenway, associate clinical professor who oversaw the students' research. Training students makes quality improvement a habit which enhances their careers long after graduation, he said.
"Our goal is to normalize research, so that our graduates continue to improve healthcare for their patients wherever they practice," Greenway said.