Intended for healthcare professionals

Letters Surgical training and clinical trials

Training and trials—building a future

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: (Published 26 May 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h2772
  1. Thomas M Drake, fourth year medical student1,
  2. Michael Bath, fourth year medical student2,
  3. Henry A Claireaux, fourth year medical student3,
  4. Chia Kong, fourth year medical student4,
  5. Chetan Khatri, final year medical student5,
  6. Lisa McNamee, fourth year medical student6,
  7. Midhun Mohan, fourth year medical student7
  8. On behalf of the STARSurg Student Collaborative
  1. 1University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK
  2. 2University of Leicester, Leicester, UK
  3. 3University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
  4. 4University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK
  5. 5Imperial College London, London, UK
  6. 6Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Dublin, Republic of Ireland
  7. 7University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK
  1. collaborate{at}

The debate about research training is not confined to postgraduate surgical trainees.1 As medical students, we too would like to learn how to recruit into and participate in clinical trials across all specialties. When we graduate, we will be expected to make diagnoses, order tests, and start treatment. The General Medical Council’s “Tomorrow’s Doctors” guidance emphasises the importance of evidence based medicine in student training. However, this does not include recruiting patients to trials, and medical school curriculums do not cover this subject. Most junior doctors therefore have little appreciation of the skills required.

The student led STARSurg (Student Audit and Research in Surgery; group has run two national cohort studies in recent years to teach students essential audit and research skills.2 Building on this, we will pilot a workshop this summer in which 40 final year medical students are trained to recruit patients into trials and gain good clinical practice certification. This is in line with our vision to promote student engagement and participation in high quality research and national audit projects. It will be the first step in creating a new cohort of “research ready” junior doctors, who will be able to engage patients and disseminate high quality research. We would like to see such training embedded more widely within medical schools, because this would lead to a generational change in clinical research and evidence based practice within the NHS.

If we future clinicians understand the mechanics of recruitment and engagement as medical students, it can only benefit our patients, now and in the future.


Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h2772


  • Competing interests: The STARSurg student collaborative receives funding from the Wellcome Trust and the Academy of Medical Science’s INSPIRE program for engagement of students in research.


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