Posted on October 5, 2016
In the third blog of our new series, Understanding Evidence, Selena Ryan-Vig introduces Students 4 Best Evidence, a blogging network by and for students interested in evidence-based healthcare. Join in the conversation on Twitter with @Students4BE @CochraneUK#understandingevidence
“…the young people are the most striking phenomenon. They’re bringing a blast of energy, enthusiasm, idealism and cutting edge scientific work with them… the most exciting things arethe signs of change in medical and health professional education that are bubbling up.” (Hilda Bastian).
In 2012, Syrian student Norah contacted the director of Cochrane UK, Martin Burton, to ask for assistance in setting up a group for students interested in evidence-based healthcare. In recognition of the need for such a group, and with input from a small group of pioneering students, Students 4 Best Evidence (S4BE) was born: a growing network of students interested in evidence-based healthcare. Now in its fourth year, S4BE continues to provide an online space where students can help one another to learn (more) about what evidence-based healthcare entails and to help foster within one another the skills to critically engage with evidence.
S4BE is a website comprising blogs written by students of all ages (from school-age to PhD level) from all over the world, including the UK, the Americas, Mexico, The Netherlands, India, Australia and many more. It’s by – and for – students, with bloggers studying a range of different subjects. This includes, but is not limited to, medicine, physiotherapy, nursing, pharmacy, dentistry and so on. Not all registered bloggers study a healthcare-related subject though, with one studying chemistry for instance, and another studying Philosophy, Politics and Economics. This reflects the fact that the ability to understand evidence cuts across numerous disciplines; both healthcare and non-healthcare related.
On average, one or two blogs are published each month (although this fluctuates in accordance with students’ busy academic calendars!) To date, 373 blogs have been published, over 350 students have registered to blog, and an additional 200+ individuals have signed up to receive the S4BE newsletter. S4BE also has around 2000 followers on both Facebook and Twitter.
Students blog about any topic or issue related to evidence-based healthcare they feel vocal about, have knowledge of, or an interest in. For example, a number of bloggers have taken a critical look at some fundamental issues and debates in evidence-based healthcare: concerns regarding over-treatment, debates around cancer screening, publication bias and so on. Broadly though, students’ blogs tend to fall into one of three main categories:
A comments section under each blog enables the blogs to be ‘peer-reviewed’, as fellow students, or any interested reader, can comment on them post-publication.
The S4BE website also features a ‘library’; where resources and tools have been pulled together into one handy page which is continually updated as new resources become available. This can be anything from articles on how to read and interpret different kinds of research papers, to weblinks to a series of accessible videos about statistics. These resources aim to assist students in asking questions; searching for evidence; appraising and acting on research and evaluating practice (whether their own or others’).
Any student is welcome to join; they need not have ever blogged before. Even if students do not wish to blog, hopefully they will find other students’ blogs, and the variety of other resources on the website, useful and interesting. We’d love for as many students as possible to get involved with S4BE. The more who do, the more we envisage students’ understanding of evidence will increase. Ultimately, we hope, this will benefit patients, as today’s students become tomorrow’s practitioners committed to practice that is evidence-based.
If you would like to know more about getting involved with S4BE (S4BE.org), contact Selena Ryan-Vig at email@example.com or@Students4BE on Twitter or through our Facebook page (/Students4BE). If you’d like to register to blog for Students 4 Best Evidence, or know a student who would, you can do so here: http://www.students4bestevidence.net/register/
S4BE also currently partners with over 40 organisations that are mutually committed to getting evidence-based healthcare into student education. A list of which can be found here. If you would like to know more about becoming a partner, contact Selena at firstname.lastname@example.org
References may be found here.