INTEGRATION OF SCIENTIFIC BASIC AND CLINICAL RESEARCH TRAINING INTO UNDERGRADUATE HEALTH SCIENCE EDUCATION: AN EXPERIENCE FROM THE COMPLUTENSE UNIVERSITY OF MADRID
There is an increasingly growing trend towards integrating scientific basic research training into undergraduate Health Science education. The development of biomedical programs over the last decades has shown that science and research capabilities can be taught by introducing science- and research-oriented topics and training activities in the academic curriculum. These can be introductory courses, presented during the first year(s), on what science is and how it works, but also general courses in research-related methodologies, such as biostatistics, bioinformatics, literature search techniques, making graphs, tables and presentations. Exposure to scientific research promotes scientific output, encourages interest in prospective research activities and ultimately facilitates access to research-focused professions. Furthermore, it allows students to build up their scientific research knowledge, master basic laboratory skills, develop higher order research competencies such as critical-thinking, problema solving, thought-processing, wise-judgeing, life-long learning, hypothesis formulation, methodology delineation, results interpretation and data communication both orally and textually. However, biomedical degrees have been historically structured into two well-defined blocks: the first, pre-clinical, focused on the study of basic disciplines, and the second, or clinical, framed in the study of clinical disciplines. One criticism of this structure is the lack of integration and coordination between the two blocks, which makes it difficult to retain and link basic knowledge in the context of clinical problems. Since little is known about how Health Science students perceive undergraduate research, an effort should be made in offering them an integrative view of the basic and clinical aspects of research. In fact, a steady decline in the number of new Health Science professionals-investigators is a phenomenon observed globally. Here we present an experience of integration of scientific basic and clinical research in the Complutense University of Madrid. Students were introduced to the research routine carried out in the operating rooms and biomedical laboratories of participating professors. They were assigned a small project tha was developed with the help and advice of the teaching staff. The experience culminated with the participation of students in scientific conferences, where they presented their results.