Lessons Learnt from Operationalising an International Collaborative Multi-Centre Study
Keywords:COVID-19, medical students, research, international, collaborative, social media
Many medical students are both skilled and experienced in healthcare research, statistical analysis and evidence synthesis; assets that can be deployed to great effect in order to conduct research and contribute to the body of evidence - particularly in outbreak situations where senior doctors may be redeployed to clinical duties, thus ensuring that the next generation of academic clinicians’ interest and knowledge does not go in vain. Here, we document the process by which a group of medical students across the world, with senior support, harnessed their enthusiasm and the power of technology to play leading roles in an international multi-centre study run by the Global Health Research Group on Children’s Non-Communicable Diseases (Global Children’s NCDs). Many lessons have been learnt from the successful operationalisation of this study, which we hope to impart in this article. Our operations team consisted of: a social media team who manage our various accounts; a graphic design team who produce visuals to illustrate milestones achieved or highlight countries from which we did not yet have representatives; a network team who constructed a database to manage our extensive collaborator network; a communications team who managed emails and maintained regular contact with collaborators as well as producing a guide of common issues; a researcher support team who worked to ensure that any issues faced were dealt with promptly by hosting drop-in sessions; and finally a research capacity building team. We found that medical students bring fresh perspectives and an open-minded approach which is useful in reframing challenges and generating innovative solutions; thus it is vital to give them the opportunity to collaborate with, and learn from senior academics and policy-makers.
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