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Doctor or scientist? Many if not most neurologists, at least in the UK, do some research, publish a few papers and obtain a postgraduate degree such as a PhD. The academic neurologist, usually working in a University Hospital, can clearly make a vital contribution to the advancement of clinical and basic sciences. But should non-academic neurologists, working in non-teaching hospitals or outpatient settings, also do some research—at least during their neurology training? Does a period of research make you a better clinical neurologist, and, if so, how and when should this research be incorporated into training? Research during training is time-consuming, liable to failure, costly, and potentially a waste of time if academia is not the intention. Now that UK doctors are undergoing a major shake-up of their postgraduate training (Modernising Medical Careers (MMC)),1 it is important that we ask for evidence to support a period of research for trainees who are destined to become non-academic as well as academic neurologists.
WHY BOTHER WITH RESEARCH?
It is said that the benefits of research during neurology training include a greater understanding of scientific methodology and disease mechanisms which will improve the aspiring neurologist’s ability to critically evaluate the evidence informing clinical practice. And very often a period of research is a way into subspeciality training, for example in epilepsy or stroke. In our recent survey, over 90% of UK neurology trainees do a period …
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