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Medical Students – Educational Tracks - Research Elective Central Valley

Course Description

This 4-week distance learning elective designed to introduce 3rd and 4th year medical students to the concepts and methods of clinical research.

Course Objectives

  • Explain the difference between internal and external validity and how each relates to the research question, study plan, and actual study.
  • Analyze the components of a research question in terms of study design, predictor, outcome, and population and evaluate using the FINER criteria.
  • Compare the different probability and nonprobability sampling methods.
  • Analyze a study design in terms of target population, accessible population, sampling scheme, and generalizability.
  • Explain the difference between dichotomous, nominal, ordinal, continuous and discrete numerical variables.
  • Explain the difference between precision and accuracy, how they are related to different types of bias, and how this affects validity.
  • Analyze the difference between cross-sectional, cohort, and case-control studies and the strengths and weaknesses of each.
  • Select a study design that is appropriate a clinical research question.
  • Analyze the components of a randomized trial and design one to answer a hypothetical research question.
  • Explain the concept of the null hypothesis, alternative hypothesis, one-sided and two-sided tests, and power.
  • Estimate sample size for a desired power and statistical significance.
  • Compare explain different statistical methods, including Student’s T test, ANOVA, Chi square, linear correlation, simple and multiple regression.
  • Develop a research question and perform a relevant literature search.
  • Optional: start writing manuscript for a case report

Student Learning Outcomes

  • Apply understanding of the material covered to answer weekly questions.
  • Apply the concepts of this course to critically analyze medical literature.
  • Perform basic statistical analysis and power calculations.

Student Expectations

  • Turn in assignments on time.
  • Attend weekly virtual meetings.

Evaluation Methods

  • Weekly questions and practice problems
  • Writing assignment – case report

Textbook Information: Hulley, Stephen. Designing Clinical Research, 4th Edition, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2013.

Course Calendar

Week 1: Process of Research

  • Learning objectives 1-6
  • Topics:
    • Developing a research question
    • Introduction to study design
    • Choosing study subjects: specification, sampling, recruitment
    • Planning measurements: precision, accuracy, and validity
  • Reading assignments: DCR, ch. 1-4

Week 2: Types of Studies

  • Learning objectives 7-9
  • Topics:
    • Cross-sectional studies
    • Case-control studies
    • Clinical trials
  • Types of studies
  • Reading: DCR, ch. 7,8,10

Week 3 – Statistical Methods

  • Learning objectives 10-12
  • Topics:
    • Estimating sample size and power
    • Statistical methods
  • Reading: DCR, ch. 5,6 and additional content provided by instructor

Week 4 – Literature Searches, Paper Writing, Grant Writing

  • Learning objectives 13-14
  • Topics:
    • Literature searches
    • Writing the manuscript
    • Submitting for publication
    • Grant writing
  • Reading: DCR, ch. 19 and additional content provided by instructor

How to Apply

Edward Durant, MD, MPH, FACEP

For more information and to apply to this elective, contact Sherry Sandoval – Program Coordinator –

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