Ryan Craig wins the TCOM Honors Research Practicum Award

By Steven BartolottaTCOM student Ryan Craig and Dr. John Licciardone

After completing a very comprehensive semester of research training, journal club presentations and examinations, TCOM second-year student Ryan Craig was selected as the recipient of the TCOM Honors Research Practicum Award.

Craig contributed to an excellent journal club presentation involving a large-scale cohort study published in JAMA Psychiatry, had the highest level of class participation and correct answers to ongoing quiz questions over the entire semester, and eventually had the highest score on the final written examination.

My goal was never to win the award, but to really take advantage of an opportunity to learn about a side of medicine that we don’t see through our normal course work,” Craig said. “However, the external validation of the award gave me a tangible representation of the effort I put in and I was very pleased with that.”

The Honors Research Practicum, taught by John Licciardone, DO, MS, MBA, FACPM, Regents Professor and Richards-Cohen Distinguished Chair in Clinical Research, has an overarching goal of providing lifelong competency in clinical research methods and facilitating evidence-based medical practice. It is open to second-year students who rank in the top 10% of their class.

“It has been rewarding to see the growing interest in research among TCOM students during my 35 years at UNTHSC,” Dr. Licciardone said. “Teaching the Honors Research Practicum provides a great opportunity to introduce TCOM students to the essentials of clinical research design and critical evaluation of the biomedical literature. Beyond research, this course is also meant to help students become better physicians by applying critical thinking skills and evidence-based medicine in their everyday practice of medicine.”

The practicum includes over 20 hours of research didactics in the Fall semester, which are intended to subsequently enable students to conduct a hypothesis-driven research project under the direction of a research mentor during the remainder of the Fall and Spring semesters, culminating in a scholarly presentation at HSC’s annual Research Appreciation Day (RAD).

One of the amazing things about this course was that we learned to critically analyze how studies are designed and how the authors choose to report their findings,” Craig said. “By taking a close look at this experimental design, you walk away with a completely different understanding of the information than if you simply take the headline conclusion of ‘no association’ at face value. Understanding how the authors came up with the data and how they analyzed it, one can see that we need further studies into this association to get a better understanding of what is going on.”

Craig and his group of classmates gave a journal club presentation on maternal antidepressant medication use and the development of intellectual disability in their offspring.  After adjusting for potential confounding variables, the study did not find statistically significant evidence of an association between maternal antidepressant use and the development of intellectual disability in their offspring.

“I am very thankful for the opportunity to participate in this course,” Craig said. “I want to encourage all healthcare providers to develop the necessary skills to read and interpret the scientific literature, because it is very much our job to do so.”

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