Logan faculty brings evidence-based research to students in a fun, interactive atmosphere
It’s 11 a.m. on a Thursday, and students are packing into Logan’s Research Lab in room 118. They’re here to listen to and participate in scholarly presentations by fellow students and faculty on the latest research findings in chiropractic and related health disciplines.
Dr. Rodger Tepe, dean of research and development, and Chabha Tepe, director of the Learning Resources Center at Logan, are the co-founders and faculty sponsors of Logan’s Evidence-Based Journal Club. The purpose of the club is to present current research and to teach students how to read, understand and critically evaluate scientific journal articles.
“All serious academic institutions have Journal Clubs,” said Dr. Tepe. “It gives students exposure to relevant scientific information that can stimulate their thinking and serve as a supplement to their classroom education. We want to develop information-literate students, who will become lifetime learners, by utilizing best evidence principles as practicing chiropractic physicians.”
Before the Evidence-Based Journal Club was established last November, the Tepes spent time researching existing journal clubs and structuring the club’s mission, purpose and goals. “It didn’t happen overnight,” noted Chabha. “We reviewed and synthesized the best features of other journal clubs into a model that was the best fit for Logan’s needs.”
Tri-6 student Jonathan Emlet became an early club founder. “Developing the club was an intense and exciting process. I think it is vitally important for a doctor in any field to be able to confidently search, find, and read current research,” he said. “The chiropractic field is constantly changing with new research coming out every day. If we, as doctors of chiropractic, want to continuously provide the best care for our patients it is imperative that we stay up to date with the current literature.”
Today, Jonathan is President of the Journal Club. The club is open to chiropractic students, faculty, practitioners and alumni, and draws anywhere from 20 to 40 members each meeting. It’s a casual, yet engaging and informative atmosphere as attendees lunch on pizza while listening to volunteering students and faculty address topics, such as neuroplasticity and its relationship to pain rehabilitation, the appropriate use of diagnostic imaging or the effect of epigenetics on health and illness.
Dr. Tepe said the meetings are organized so that the information is delivered to the students in a variety of methods. “We always have our finger on the pulse of what’s going on in chiropractic as far as pain, movement and neuromuscular skeletal phenomena, and we do our best to bring the newest research to our members,” Dr. Tepe said. “We find out what new information the students are most eager to learn and is the most congruent with their chiropractic education. We want to ‘wow’ them with scholarly information that also has practical value.”
Students say they like the information because it’s topical, interesting and current. Tri-8 student Tara Adams said she enjoys being a part of the Journal Club because she has a logical mind and often likes to know why she’s doing things. “I love having proof and evidence to back up what I’m practicing,” she said. “It’s so important.”
Dr. Tepe said not all chiropractic schools have evidence-based journal clubs, however, he and Chabha have been doing their best to make a case for them at other academic institutions.
During the recent ACC-RAC 2011 conference, the two submitted a workshop proposal on how to develop and conduct journal clubs. The proposal was accepted and they had the opportunity to present a 90-minute workshop to a full room of attendees.
Chabha said, “We addressed how journal clubs could be used to promote clinical applications of best evidence to improve patient outcomes, and stressed the importance of creating collaboration between research and library faculty.”
Another benefit of the club is allowing students to become leaders in their fields. The club, notes Chabha, “gives those students presenting a forum for teaching, and an opportunity to share and apply what they’ve learned as well as strengthen their communication skills. For those attending, it’s a chance to learn how to assess the validity and clinical relevance of research and engage in meaningful discussions about the latest scientific evidence.”
Emlet said we must guard ourselves from becoming too comfortable with our knowledge and the way we practice with no desire to change, even when current literature may offer a more effective way of providing care. “Doctors of chiropractic must be confident in their plan and style of care, and being up to date with the latest scientific literature helps to provide chiropractic physicians with that confidence,” he said.
Both Tepes are hoping to increase membership of the Journal Club and find more ways to make the information accessible and convenient to students. One method that has proven successful is the creation of a Facebook account which has helped keep more than 120 of the site’s fans engaged and informed.
“You have to speak a language that students can relate to, and we saw how many hours per week students spent on social media,” Chahba said. “We thought Facebook was a good tool to reach out to students. Our page houses presentations from each meeting, links to articles, discussions and questions, and it serves as a portal for posting announcements as well as event and meeting notices.”
Having a virtual platform where members can find out what is going on in the club, even when they can’t always attend, has been essential for maintaining member involvement and recruiting new
For Emlet, he’s not only excited to be part of a club that will help his career, but likes the idea of being involved in something that strengthens Logan and aids in the school’s ability to remain at the top of chiropractic educational institutions.