Neil Armstrong once said, “research is creating new knowledge.” This is what each one of us should believe in, if we want to build a strong and flourishing society.
As Syrians, and despite the cruel circumstances that our country has faced over the last five years, we strive to maintain a positive spirit and contribute with everything we have to build a better future for our home, Syria.
As medical students, we found that the best possible way for us to help is to raise awareness of Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM) and research. We believe that such a road will inevitably lead to a thriving nation. Yet, we are still at the beginning, but a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.
Taking all that has been mentioned into consideration, we started an initiative to help ourselves and our peers engage more in research and the critical way of thinking. We began with a number of online courses on Research and Academic Writing. My colleagues and I completed these courses in order to make sure that we have what it takes to transfer knowledge.
Afterwards, we started organizing courses to teach our colleagues at the faculty of medicine what we learned; more than 200 students showed interest in the topic and enrolled in those courses. Not stopping here, we are planning to expand such activities to reach other faculties, such as dentistry and pharmacy.
Below is a quote from a student about the courses,
“Research is one of the indispensable components of medicine without which no progress in medical knowledge and criteria can be made. It’s imperative that medical students get accustomed to using studies and accurate statistics when looking for reliable medical data. The evidence-based medicine courses held at Damascus university- Faculty of medicine consist of interactive lectures followed by explanatory assignments that serve the purpose of deepening the understanding of the crucial importance of evidence in medical practice in order to help medical students tackle studies with ease and full professionalism”
– Saad Farran, medical student at Damascus University, Syria.
We are not planning to keep our endeavor theoretical, but instead we are aiming to do some actual research work, and publish our results in scientific journals. As a start, we conducted several cross-sectional studies in different domains of medicine and medical education; we, also, published some case reports about rare conditions in medicine. We hope to go further in the field of EBM to enrich our knowledge and to relay what we learned to our peers who currently have no one to teach.
About the Authors:
Mahmoud Alkhatib, 5th year medical student in a 6-year program at Damascus University. I have been graded in the top ten students in the last four years, and have been awarded from the faculty. My interest in research has emerged in the third year, and since then I have started working with my colleagues on some projects to help make the future of our faculty. I will continue on this road since my goal is to be a good researcher who will make a change and leave his imprint. Mahmoud may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tarek Turk, fifth-year medical student in a six-year program at Damascus University, Syria. I have always seen myself as a clinician and a researcher, and have worked hard my entire life to achieve this goal. I believe that we were not meant to pass from this life without leaving a trace, and I decided to leave a trace in science. I have major interests in knowledge synthesis, Evidence-based healthcare, and linking medicine to artificial intelligence. Tarek may be reached at email@example.com
Suhaib was born in Kamishli, Syria, and earned his bachelor’s degree in May 2015 from Illinois Institute of Technology’s Armour College of Engineering, with earlier studies at Aleppo University and Damascus University. Suhaib majored in Civil Engineering with a concentration in structural engineering. Upon graduation, he accepted a position as a project engineer working on projects throughout the state of Illinois; he lives in Springfield, Illinois. Suhaib previously worked with Jasmine Baladi Studio, an NGO that works to support Syrian children in refugee camps in Turkey. Suhaib regularly writes for the Syrian Students for a Better Future Blog.
To learn more about the Syrian Student Initiative for the Advancement of Undergraduate Research Without Borders, please contact Suhaib at firstname.lastname@example.org.