South African surgical registrar perceptions of the research project component of training: Hope for the future?
In the February issue of the South African Medical Journal I published a paper on the perceptions that South African registrars (residents) have regarding the research component of their training. You can read the paper here.
Background. The Health Professions Council of South Africa requires that a research project be submitted and passed before registration as a specialist.
Objective. To describe surgical registrars’ perceptions of the compulsory research project.
Method. Ethics clearance was received before commencing the study. A questionnaire was developed to collect feedback from surgical registrars throughout South Africa (SA). Completed questionnaires underwent descriptive analysis using MS Excel. Fisher’s exact test and the χ2 test were used to compare perceptions of the research-experienced and research-naive groups.
Results. All medical schools in SA were sampled, and 51.5% (124/241) of surgical registrars completed the questionnaire. Challenges facing registrars included insufficient time (109/124), inadequate training in the research process (40/124), inadequate supervision (31/124), inadequate financial resources (25/124) and lack of research continuity (11/124). Of the registrars sampled, 67.7% (84/124) believed research to be a valuable component of training. An overwhelming percentage (93.5%, 116/124) proposed a dedicated research block of time as a potential solution to overcoming the challenges encountered. Further proposals included attending a course in research methodology (79/124), supervision by a faculty member with an MMed or higher postgraduate degree (73/124), and greater research exposure as an undergraduate (56/124). No statistically significant differences were found between the perceptions of the research-experienced and research-naive groups.
Conclusion. Challenges facing surgical registrars in their efforts to complete their research projects were identified and solutions to these problems proposed. It is heartening that respondents have suggested solutions to the problems they encounter, and view research as an important component of their careers.