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Journal: Nigerian Medical Students; Underappreciated and Underutilized Research Resource

By Rober. H. Glew (Highland Medical Research Journal) 
Having taught biochemistry to medical students in the U.S and Nigeria for three decades, I have been fascinated by the many contrasts that differentiate the education and training these students receive in the two countries. One of the most glaring and interesting distinctions between undergraduate medical education in the U.S. and Nigeria has to do with the extent or lack thereof to which Nigerian and American medical students become engaged in biomedical research while they are in medical school. The percentage of medical students in the U.S. who are involved to a significant degree in research certainly varies considerably across the 140 or so allopathic and osteopathic schools of medicine. 

Nevertheless, regardless of whether research is a required or voluntary activity, at most U.S. medical schools at least one-third and as many as one hundred percent of the student body participates significantly in research of one sort or another, be it epidemiology/population-based or laboratory-centered. At the University of New Mexico School of Medicine, for example, even before the requirement that students do a research project was put in place about 12 years ago, 30-40% of the medical students elected to engage in research under the tutelage of a faculty research mentor in one of the clinical or basic science departments. 

In contrast, however, based on what I have observed first-hand from having taught medical students and done research at a number of teaching hospitals in different regions of Nigeria over the past 30 years, I cannot recall a single instance in which a Nigerian medical student ever involved himself or herself in a collaborative research project with a faculty member in any serious manner during the six years they were in training.

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