Date Published: April 12, 2018
Author(s): Kenneth Yakubu, Maria C. Colon-Gonzalez, Kyle Hoedebecke, Vasiliki Gkarmiri, Nagwa N. Hegazy, Olugbemi O. Popoola.
Family doctors (FDs) focus on biopsychosocial components of health during consultations. However, much of the evidence employed by these doctors is produced by researchers who are not routinely involved in family practice. Family doctors competent in both clinical practice and research are essential to addressing this gap. With the growing recognition of family medicine as the specialty of choice for many young doctors, there is a scarcity of literature that describes their experiences in combining research and daily family practice.
Members from Young Doctor Movements (YDMs) under the auspices of the World Organisation of Family Doctors (WONCA) sought to address this knowledge gap by reflecting on their experiences towards becoming researchers. With the assistance of senior doctors, they explored solutions that can help young FDs incorporate research into their family practice.
Following an online YDM meeting, a summary of the experiences of young FDs as well as strategies useful for incorporating research into their everyday practice as FDs was prepared.
Nine thematic areas were derived, including experiences and motivation towards regular research, culture and environment of practice, relevance and gains of research, teamwork and mentorship.
Family practices can incorporate research by promoting a personal and organisational research culture, highlighting gains and relevance of making it part of the profession and fostering teamwork, supportive networks and mentorship while making it enjoyable.
Primary care physicians competent in both clinical practice and research are needed to advance evidence-based practice, quality of care and patient safety in primary care settings.1 Active participation from clinicians in primary care research can close the current gap of non-clinicians producing much of the scientific evidence used in the treatment of primary care patients (who often have multi-morbidities).2 Primary care-based research provides a plethora of evidence applicable to everyday practice in family medicine (FM).3 It can also elucidate issues relevant to the undifferentiated patient, who seeks care from the family doctor (FD).4 Evidence pertinent to the primary care setting must achieve a person, family and community focus useful for population health and policy development.
As part of regular inter-YDM activities, a Google Hangout panel discussion about ‘the young family physician and research’ was held on 11 February 2016. The event was advertised to all the YDMs using social media, and participation was voluntary.
Nine representatives from three YDMs including Al Razi (East Mediterranean region), WONCA Polaris (North America) and AfriWon Renaissance (sub-Saharan Africa) took part in the event. The discussion panel comprised eight young FDs and a fifth-year FM trainee (three of the young FDs had published at least five peer-reviewed articles, while five of the young FDs and the fifth-year FM trainee had published fewer than 5 articles). All the panel participants were actively involved in clinical family practice.
For a general population of junior doctors, previous authors have suggested some strategies towards incorporating research into clinical practice. These include ensuring flexible work hours to promote more involvement in research, remuneration per research activity, longitudinal mentoring relationships in the areas of interest and expertise,11,13,14 personal and professional support from the academic departments and developing time management skills.14 All these are consistent with thematic areas 5 and 9.
The practice of research can be a daunting challenge for emerging FDs inundated with a barrage of questions regarding what, who or how to establish themselves in everyday clinical practice. These thematic areas highlight common pathways to becoming a researcher and provide useful strategies for those interested in a blended career of research and clinical practice.