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Why bother with research when training to be a neurologist?
  1. Daniel Blackburn, Research Fellow1,
  2. Dayangku Siti Pengiran Tengah, Locum Consultant Neurologist2
  1. 1Academic Neurology Unit, Medical School, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK
  2. 2Department of Neurology, Queen’s Medical Centre, Nottingham, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr D Blackburn
 Academic Neurology Unit, E-Floor Medical School, University of Sheffield, Beech Hill Road, Sheffield S10 2RX, UK; d.blackburn{at}shef.ac.uk

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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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