Over 1,250 high school students from over a hundred cities across Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the United States, the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates took part in a weeklong series of virtual, medical research courses organised by Aga Khan University’s Student Research Forum, SRF.
The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted high school education around the world and has given teenage students the time and opportunity to enhance their skills in a variety of areas such as research and academic writing. For many participants, this was their first chance to gain an insight into how to conduct research that generates knowledge in novel areas of medicine and helps physicians assess the value of different types of treatment.
"The world of research can be intimidating to many young students,” said Ali Aahil Noorali, a final year student at AKU’s Medical College, and SRF president. "Cost represents another barrier as online courses on research skills have high registration and certification charges. Through this course, we wanted to help our younger colleagues add another string to their bow and empower them to pursue their passion for research.”
The free of cost, introductory sessions saw students alongside faculty from AKU’s Medical College explain the research process, analytical methods as well as key writing and referencing techniques to younger students.
"Research is just like an adventure with so many unknowns to discover," said Maha Inam, a third year student at AKU’s Medical College and SRF’s director of workshops. "Through this course, which is one of the first for pre-university students, we wanted to give more young people the chance to experience the thrill of conducting their own research experiments and the wonderful surprise that comes when you stumble upon an unexpected finding."
The workshop follows a similar series of free of charge, open-to-all introductory research courses aimed at medical university students in June 2020 that was attended by over 3,500 participants from over 30 cities in Pakistan.
"Clinical medicine and clinical research have a symbiotic relationship," said Asma Merchant, a fourth year student at AKU’s Medical College and SRF’s vice president. "The more you research, the better your clinical practice and the more observations you make during your practice, the better your research. At the end of the day, medicine is a science and not just a profession and that’s why we want to help all students develop their research skills.”
The workshops were organised over Zoom livestream in collaboration with AKU’s Office of Student Experience in Pakistan.