by Igbokwe Martin C.
The cliché “publish or perish” is commonly used in the academic world to describe the immense pressure faced by academics to remain relevant through their research output. Residency training is a period when the doctor acquires critical skills in clinical practice and research. Unfortunately, the tedious daily schedule of the resident doctor, poor mentorship and paucity of research grants limit the enthusiasm of many from making the pre-requisite efforts towards developing excellent research skills. I will attempt to highlight some of the key points from my experience with research as a resident doctor in Nigeria which can provide a model that may be useful to residents interested in building a research career anywhere in the world.
“Residency training is a period when the doctor acquires critical skills in clinical practice and research.“
Having the right orientation– I initially believed that research was meant for the Consultants until I had better direction on the relevance of clinical research to the physician-scientist(1,2). The busy schedule and interaction of the resident doctor with patients, specimens and colleagues provides a golden opportunity to conceive, execute and write-up relevant research articles, and this applies to both junior and senior residents. House officers and medical officers are not excluded. The time to start research is NOW!
“The time to start research is NOW!”
Mentorship– I was mentored by a kind and benevolent General Surgeon, Dr Lekan Olasehinde. He took the time to guide me on research ideas, put me through the tricks of writing and shape my research career. Such mentorship was critical to my development as a budding researcher.
Starting small– My first paper was a case report on a rare condition which I encountered while operating. I followed up by submitting multiple abstracts and presented in both local and international conferences. Then I participated in retrospective reviews, cross-sectional surveys, molecular studies and prospective clinical studies. I also completed my dissertations for the Part 2 exams for both the West African College of Surgeons and the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria.
Like-minded peers- I was immensely influenced by Dr David R.A and other like-minded colleagues who all aimed at studying different themes in our speciality which were seldom reported in the literature in order to add to the body of existing knowledge. We spurred one another under the guidance of our trainers to execute standard researches, including our dissertations and earned authorship in several publications in peer-reviewed journals. The role of the Research Collaborative Network led by Dr Oladimeji Adebayo also played a crucial role for me as we engaged in studying several themes affecting Nigerian resident doctors and in the process delving into uncharted territories in the realm of research and the Nigerian residency program.
“The role of the Research Collaborative Network … also played a crucial role for me as we engaged in studying several themes affecting Nigerian resident doctors…”
The benefits – Research paved the way for my attendance of sponsored international conferences to present my research findings at Cape Town, South Africa and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, during my residency program. I also benefitted from research travel grants and international clinical fellowship awards by the Union for International Cancer Control and the Societe Internationale D’Urologie.
In conclusion, I benefited immensely from my engagement in clinical research as a Nigerian resident doctor. The presence of mentors, motivated colleagues and a burning desire to answer relevant local questions are crucial to have a successful research career.
1. Hepburn MJ, Battafarano DF, Enzenauer RJea. Increasing resident research in a military internal medicine program. Mil Med. 2003;168:341-5.
2. Nacide G. Ercan-Fang, Don C. Rockey, C. Jessica Dine, Saima Chaudhry, Thurayya Arayssi. Resident Research Experiences in Internal Medicine Residency Programs—A Nationwide Survey. Am J Med. 2017;130(12):1470-6.
Dr Igbokwe Martin C. is an active member of the Research Collaboration Network(RCN). He played an active role in making Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital Complex, Ile-Ife’s team prominent in the collaboration.