Friday, May 28, 2010

Health Research: Looking for a Topic/Problem to Study

The first step in the research process is problem identification. In other words, at this point a researcher's problem is finding a problem. A problem is a question that needs to be answered, something that needs a solution.

One must first state the simplest research question or proble showing the variables or concepts to be described and possible relationships between variables.

The sources of problems may be from research agenda by different scientific communities, out of curiosity as problems are encountered or experienced and from an analysis of needs.

The problem then needs to be analyzed with the help of the acronym FINER.
Is the problem feasible?
  • with time and money?
  • enough subjects?
  • feasible to implement?
interesting? novel? ethical? relevant?

The problem the n needs to be dissected and clarified by identifying the components. Get the key terms and analyze what needs to be determined. This will help later on in the formulation of objectives.

Afterwards, state the problem and subproblems in clear and specific terms specifying variable/s, population and setting (when applicable).

There you have it, problem solved for now!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Introduction to Health Research

Health research unfortunately often occupies a back seat especially in local medical schools. There are students and even teachers alike who frown upon research.

The next series of blogs will talk about health research as the author's humble contribution to help cultivate research culture in medical schools and schools of allied health sciences.

Health research has an important role in our battle against diseases and maintaining health. Its importance include:

  1. Generating knowledge which hopefully could lead to action in the aspects for example of diagnosis, prevention and control of diseases.
  2. Guiding policy and health program development.
  3. Develop new technology which could improve the delivery of health services and the practice of medicine.
In doing research, students have a choice as to what type of health research to carry out. There are 3 types of health research:
  1. Basic or biomedical which deal on the study of the nature normal events in the human body and covers areas like anatomy, physiology, microbiology, parasitology, biochemistry, etc.They are oftten done in the laboratory setting.
  2. Epidemiological which deals more on the public health side which is the study of the distribution and determinants of disease frequency in human populations. The aim of these studies are to identify risk factors of diseases or evaluate programs or interventions.
  3. Clinical research which understands the disease process including identification of determinants of illness outcomes (often done by residents). Participants in these studies are patients.
Below are the steps in conducting research:
  1. Identification of research problem
  2. Planning the research and development of research proposal
  3. Implementing the study through data collection. data processing and analysis, results interpretation and final report writing.
  4. Dissemination of results which often is forgotten. What is the use of a research if the results are made known via scientific publications, presentations, seminars, conferences. As many would say, "publish or perish".

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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Problem-Based Learning or PBL in Cebu Medical Schools: What is it?

Some medical schools in the country such as here in Cebu City, Philippines use the PBL curriculum. This is unlike what is used in premedical school days and also unlike in these med schools' previous years when lessons are based more on lectures delivered by experts. Therefore applicants to these med schools might need to familiarize themselves with what PBL is since this question is what bugs them when choosing a local medical school to apply to.

So what is PBL?

PBL is a system that simulatenously develops a student's problem solving strategies and knowledge base by turning students into active learners, actively solving a problem provided to them which closely resembles or simulates the real world situation.

PBL is student-centered as opposed to learning from lectures which are teacher-centered.

This is in concordance with the principles of adult learning (since medical students are adults) which believes that adults are self-directed with an accumulation of life experiences and knowledge, as well as goal and relevancy-oriented (they learn better when they see that what they are learning is applicable to their work).

PBL in local medical schools uses a case as a trigger for small group discussion (SGD) and learning. The teacher acts only as facilitator, a guide on the side.

The SGDs follow a series of steps known as the Maastricht "7 Jumps". These are:
  1. Clarifying unknown terms and concepts in the problem case given via handout for example.
  2. Defining the problem(s). List the phenomena or events to be explained.
  3. Analyzing the problem(s) via brainstorming where as many different tentative explanations for the phenomena are thought of and presented to the group. This makes use of prior knowledge and common sense. Biochemistry, Physiology or Pathogenesis knowledge are very useful.
  4. Continuation of analyzing the problem(s) by discussing then criticizing the explanations proposed. The group arrange explanations into a list of tentative solutions. These explanations are organized. 
  5. Formulating learning issues by group consensus for self-directed learning.
  6. Filling in gaps in ones knowledge through self-study, independent study or private study.
  7. Coming back to the group and sharing the findings during the self-study or independent study session with the group while trying to integrate the knowledge acquired into a comprehensive explanation for the phenomena or events.  Test against the original problem.
Basically, that's the process of PBL in local medical schools like Cebu Institute of Medicine (CIM).

Since PBL was started in CIM, not one product of the PBL curriculum has failed so far. All PBL graduates passed.

Cebu Doctors' University College of Medicine also uses a PBL curriculum.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Possible Philippine Holidays during the School Year 2010-2011

If the next President follows the same practice as President GMA and based on Proclamation No. 1841, then here are the projected possible holidays.

May 10 - Election day
June 14 - Independence Day (Since June 12 is a Saturday)
August 23 - Ninoy Aquino Day (Since August 21 is a Saturday)
August 30 - National heroes Day (Since August 29 is a Sunday)
November 1 - All Saints Day
November 29 - Bonifacio Day (Since November 30 is a Tuesday)
December 24 and 25
December 27 - Rizal day (Since December 30 is Thursday)
December 31 and January 1
February 28 EDSA Day (since February 25 is a Friday)
April 11 - Araw ng Kagitingan (since April 9 is a Saturday)
April 21 - Holy Thursday
April 22 - Good Friday

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