Healthcare Professionals urged to develop a habit of reading to learn the art of medical writing


 PAME-Health RAB Workshop on Medical Writing at NMC, CMH Multan

Healthcare Professionals urged to develop a habit
of reading to learn the art of medical writing

Seek help of statistician to calculate sample size,
and interpretation of the data

From our correspondent

MULTAN: Pakistan Association of Medical Editors (PAME) in collaboration with Health Research Advisory Board (Health RAB) an entity established by PharmEvo organized a Workshop on Medical Writing at Nishtar Medical College Hospital Multan on Friday February  17, 2017. Prof. Zubair Shaheen Prof. of Pulmonary Medicine was the local coordinator and the meeting was held at the Department of Medical Education. It was attended by faculty members as well as postgraduates from Departments of Surgery, Medicine, Orthopaedics, Paediatrics, Obstetrics & Gynecology and Chest Medicine. Mr. Shaukat Ali Jawaid Chief Editor of Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences who is also Secretary of Eastern Mediterranean Association of Medical Editors (EMAME) was the facilitator.

The programme consisted of presentations and hands on workshop and the participants were encouraged to actively participate in the deliberations. Mr. Shaukat Ali Jawaid emphasized upon the participants to develop a habit of reading to learn the art of medical writing. To write one page, one is supposed to read about one hundred pages.  They should make writing a fun and habit rather than punishment when they are supposed to write papers under compulsion. One of the participants opined that there should be a Publication Committee at the institution while some expressed their difficulties as regards data analysis and interpretation as they were not at all aware of statistics. Prof.Zubair Shaheen said that Publication Committee does not exist at any institution.  Unfortunately, the postgraduates work without any effective supervision, hence they have to face lot of hardships. He agreed with the suggestions made by the participants that such workshops should be organized more frequently. Some of the participants said that though an Ethics Committee exists at Nishtar Medical College Hospital Multan but it needs to be made functional.  It was also pointed out that the Principal of the college should be approached who had taken keen interest in the organization of this workshop and  appropriate measures should be taken to ensure that the Ethics Committee  meets frequently and is helpful  in guiding and approving the study protocols.

Earlier Mr.Shaukat Ali Jawaid first spoke about the basic principles of medical writing and laid emphasis that one should always read instructions to the authors of the journal to which they are submitting their manuscripts.  Before writing, one has to conduct research and make sure that the topic they have selected will enable them to have enough number of patients during the study period. Secondly make sure that they have the required funding for the study. Involve the statistician from the very beginning who will be able to help them calculate the sample size and also help them in data analysis and interpretation though some software’s are now also available. Follow the authorship criteria by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) and only those who have made substantial contributon to the study and are eligible for authorship should be listed as authors. All others who have helped in the study can be covered in the acknowledgement. Use small sentences, simple and easy language to convey the message effectively. Try to convey just one message in a study.  While doing literature search concentrate on the last five years and most of the references should be from this period. References from journals are considered the best, latest and more relevant followed by references from books and monographs. Avoid references from websites unless it is essential. As per guidelines of ICMJE list upto six authors and then write et al.

The participants were given some hands on exercises how to write correct abbreviations of journals and how to write references. It was amazing to note that most of them were not aware of the correct abbreviation of names of even Pakistani medical journals. Similarly they did not know how to write references correctly. How to write scientific papers was then discussed in detail highlighting the structured abstract which should be in four headings i.e. objective, methods, results with conclusions and key words. Important components of an original article consist of Introduction, Methodology, Results, Discussion followed by conclusions.  One should avoid repetition, duplication, ensure smooth flow and continuity; do not forget to mention place and time period of the study besides limitations of the study. Which information has to be included in Introduciton, methodology, results and discussion were discussed in detail.  The difference between incidence and prevalence was highighted and it was pointed out that most of the  hospital based studies show frequency of the disease and one should not mix it with incidence or prevalence. Another hands on exercise included how to write a structured abstract. It was also emphasized that while submitting manuscripts for publication make sure that they have included all the required documents like Letter of Undertaking signed by all the authors, Ethics Committee approval, processing fee etc.

The workshop at Combined Military Hospital Multan was organized on Saturday February 18, 2017. This was for the first time that such an academic activity was held at CMH Multan and participants took keen interest and actively participated in the discussions.  Lt. Col.Fawad was the local organizer and coordinator. The participants appreciated the initiative taken by PharmEvo to organize such an informative workshop which provided them an opportunity to learn a lot. It also cleared some of their misconceptions.  Mr.Shaukat Ali Jawaid also presented some of his books for the CMH Library. One of the participants said he has so far published three papers in Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences and was immensely pleased with the processing and peer review system. The review of one of my latest papers was most comprehensive and first I got a bit nervous at the detailed comments but it did help me to revise it which improved its quality and was eventually accepted for publication.

The participants at both the places Nishtar Medical College Hospital Multan and CMH Multan were also provided some hand outs containing useful information, various definitions like incidence, prevalence, p value, Impact Factor, different types of studies, different types of medical writing, ICMJE authorship criteria and how to write individual author’s contribution. They were also asked to fill up the Feed Back forms evaluating the contents and conduct of the workshop. Most of the participants appreciated the information provided and felt such workshops should be organized more frequently. Some felt the time was too short. A few felt they find difficulties with statistics while some wanted to know the funding sources to conduct research. Sine mike was not available at workshop at Nishtar, some of the participants felt that at times they felt some difficulty to follow. They felt that collar mike must be arranged for the speaker in future.

Participants at the CMH Workshop in their feedback also appreciated the contents and felt the workshop was timely and such academic activities needs to be organized on regular basis. One of the participants felt that there were too many abbreviations in some of the slides. One of the participants commented that the facilitator has sparked among them devotion to research. Another participant opined that by sharing his personal experience and narrating some incidents, the facilitator made the proceedings quite lively and interesting. Many of the participants commended the knowledge of the facilitator about the subject. Yet another participant opined that the presentations were not only informative but encouraging and the subject was made very easy which will help them while planning some studies and writing a scientific paper. Time management was also very much appreciated. A few postgraduates commented that today’s workshop has encouraged and motivated them to start medical writing. It will help them to overcome some of their inhibitions to start writing. At the end of the workshop memento was presented on behalf of CMH Multan to the facilitator Mr.Shaukat Ali Jawaid and thanked him for conducting this workshop at CMH.

Combined Military Hospital Multan

Combined Military Hospital Multan, it may be mentioned here was established in 1879 and it was shifted to the present site in 1947.  It was a two hundred bed facility in 1958 and in 1965, its bed strength was raised to four hundred. In 1983, the bed strength of CMH Multan was further increased to make it a six hundred facility.

 In the seminar room   there is a quotation displayed on a wall which is perhaps an excerpt from Sir Winston Churchill.  It says “Profession of medicine and surgery must always rank as the most noble that men can adopt. The spectacle of a doctor in action among soldiers is equal danger and with equal courage saving life where all others are taking it is one which must always be   seen glorious whether to God or Man. It is impossible to imagine any situation from which a human being might better leave this world and embark on the hazards of unknown.”*

*The story of the Malakand Field Force- Sir Winston S. Churchill.