A good understanding and application of the principles of research and scientific inquiry is an integral part of the anesthesia residency program at McMaster University. As per the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada's objectives of Anesthesia training, these attributes are essential to demonstrate the competencies achieved in the domain of scholarly activities. To facilitate this, we have put in place structured activities of learning and research work which engages the residents using the necessary educational tools, resources, and opportunities during their program. These lead to identifiable demonstration of competencies for both adequate learning and subsequent completion of a publishable research project.
Each resident is expected to complete the following activities to demonstrate completion of resident research work during their residency training:
This online course is intended to introduce a resident or learner to the principles of health research methods. It covers the fundamentals of evidence-based medicine, critical appraisal, planning, and conduct of clinical trials delivered as online modules in 14 units. Each unit involves reading material and lecture notes (presentation) with audio narration. These lectures have been specifically prepared for easier conceptual understanding. The course also involves three interim assignments along with two final assignments. The required assignments involve identifying a research question, reviewing the literature, and writing a protocol with the proposed methods. Residents can carry this proposal forward for their research project or have the option of choosing something different once they have more clinical anesthesia experience. Participation and satisfactory performance in the course and assignments is mandatory before a resident starts working on their research project.
Residents are encouraged to identify suitable research projects during the first three months of their PGY-2 training. By three to six months into their PGY-2 year, residents will be individually communicated with about an expectation to identify a supervisor and initiate discussion about their research project. These projects can involve any of the following:
The resident can choose the type of project that best suits their interests and study question. The most practical choice is likely either a quality assurance project or systematic review as these studies do not require funding and the resident does not have to recruit patients and get consent; in the case of a systematic review, they do not have to get Research Ethics Board (REB) approval. Most research ideas are born from residents' clinical practice when questions about diagnosis or treatment rise, but if you have trouble coming up with ideas, you should talk to your supervisor or browse the research presentations from previous Resident Exchange Days. Residents will also be encouraged to look at collaborative projects with other departmental residents. When planning any kind of project, residents are encouraged to work in teams, whether with medical students and/or other residents. It helps to have a group of people to tackle a project. Once a study question is identified, residents need to find a staff member to act as a research supervisor. This person will be responsible for overseeing and assessing the research project. If you have trouble finding a supervisor, contact Toni Tidy in the Anesthesia Research Office. Once the study question, project type, team members, and supervisor have been identified, the next step is to complete the Research Project Application form. The purpose of this form is to ensure that the project is appropriate and that you have the necessary supports in place. This also involves considerations of feasibility and timelines.
Once approved, you should complete a literature review on the topic and write the introduction for the paper - the last section of the introduction should clearly state the study question. Then the proposed methods for the study need to be written. The goal should be to write both the introduction and methods sections in enough detail that they would be sufficient for publication. You then need to discuss this project with our biostatistical team to refine the study methods (if applicable), estimate the sample size, and ensure appropriate statistical methods are followed. The project would then be submitted for REB approval; REB approval is mandatory (except in the case of a systematic review) before any data collection takes place. The Department's research website has a list of past student projects under the Research Exchange Day and Research Interest Group Meetings sections to give you an idea of what is a good student project. A resident's research project will be tracked every term, and the resident will be asked to submit a single page report of their work to their supervisor and the research office. It is essential that 'sufficient' independent research work is carried out by the resident so that the supervisor is able to sign off on the satisfactory participation of their work. Before completion of residency training, the expectation is that all residents will present at least once during their residency training at the Resident Research Exchange Day, which is held in June of each year in conjunction with the University of Western Ontario. This presentation can be either the methods of a planned project or the results of a completed study. Prizes are offered to those residents who place first, second, or third in this competition.
There are some grants available to residents, and the Department of Anesthesia will provide matching funds to help support the projects as required. Residents are encouraged to submit their abstract to both the ASA and CAS Annual Meetings. Residents that are accepted to present their work at these meetings will have their travel costs covered by the Department.
Residents are allowed to take research elective time outside of the operating room when they are not booked in off-service rotations. The Program Director and the Research Chair must approve the research electives and residents must have REB approval for their project before taking such an elective.