Earlier this year, we launched our #becauseofyou campaign, celebrating the amazing work carried out by authors, researchers, reviewers and editors. As part of the campaign, we asked you to submit your stories of inspiration and motivation, and the response was fantastic. We wanted to explore some of your stories further, so over the next few months we’ll be sharing some of these on Wiley Exchanges. The first of these stories has been written by early career researcher, Pishoy Gouda:
Growing up, I loved asking how things worked! Up to the point that one Sunday morning I wanted to figure out how my TV worked, so naturally I took it apart entirely and much to my parents’ dismay, was never able to put it back together!
As I grew older, my curiosity only grew and I dove into the world of biology, trying to figure out how the human body “worked”. That path led me to apply to medical school at the National University Ireland, Galway. Now at this stage, the very mention of “research” made me queasy. As a medical student, the concept of research is incredibly intimidating. Having to join the world of experts answering clinical questions that guides medical practice is a steep learning curve. I was really fortunate to have some amazing mentors to guide me through the process.
I remember my first summer research experience; I had the opportunity of working on an amazing project looking at the ability of the electrocardiogram to predict mortality and re-hospitalization in patients with acute heart failure. My mentor and supervisor Dr. Ezekowitz always pushed me to ask questions. What is our research question? Why is this question important? How can we go about answering this question? What do our results mean? What are the implications of our results? As a first year medical student, I really didn’t have the answer! But over a course of several summers, I was guided through the process of examining the literature, designing a project and got some results!
Comparing my experience to those of my peers, I realized this was quite a unique early research experience. To me, research is all about asking clinically focused questions that will help guide clinical practice. I think that is something that medical students all too often don’t get to experience!
So my advice to any medical student hoping to get a flavor of what research is all about is to first brainstorm about a particular aspect of medicine (in my case, Heart Failure) that interests you. Then explore a few clinical problems that remain in that field, for example, how can we risk stratify patients with acute heart failure. At this stage, you are ready to start looking for a mentor that has similar interests. Once you’ve found a match an honest discussion about what you are hoping to achieve from your research experience will help your supervisor tailor your project to suit your objectives.
I was incredibly fortunate to get inspired during my very first research experience and have continued to hone my research skills. After graduating medical school, I started my masters in clinical trials at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and have now started my Internal Medicine Residency at the University of Calgary. So for all medical students exploring research I would urge you to remember that research is more than just a right of passage, it’s an opportunity to ask questions and through your results, shape how we practice medicine in the future!
Pishoy graduated medical school with honors from the National University of Ireland, Galway in 2015 and is currently enrolled in a MSc in Clinical Trials at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and a PGY-1 Internal Medicine Resident at the University of Calgary.