Clinical scientists are at the unique interface between laboratory science and frontline clinical practice for supporting clinical partnerships for evidence-based practice. In an era of molecular diagnostics and personalised medicine, evidence-based laboratory practice (EBLP) is also crucial in aiding clinical scientists to keep up-to-date with this expanding knowledge base. However, there are recognised barriers to the implementation of EBLP and its training. The aim of this review is to provide a practical summary of potential strategies for training clinician-scientists of the next generation.
Current evidence suggests that clinically integrated evidence-based medicine (EBM) training is effective. Tailored e-learning EBM packages and evidence-based journal clubs have been shown to improve knowledge and skills of EBM. Moreover, e-learning is no longer restricted to computer-assisted learning packages. For example, social media platforms such as Twitter have been used to complement existing journal clubs and provide additional post-publication appraisal information for journals.
In addition, the delivery of an EBLP curriculum has influence on its success. Although e-learning of EBM skills is effective, having EBM trained teachers available locally promotes the implementation of EBM training. Training courses, such as Training the Trainers, are now available to help trainers identify and make use of EBM training opportunities in clinical practice. On the other hand, peer-assisted learning and trainee-led support networks can strengthen self-directed learning of EBM and research participation among clinical scientists in training. Finally, we emphasise the need to evaluate any EBLP training programme using validated assessment tools to help identify the most crucial ingredients of effective EBLP training.
In summary, we recommend on-the-job training of EBM with additional focus on overcoming barriers to its implementation. In addition, future studies evaluating the effectiveness of EBM training should use validated outcome tools, endeavour to achieve adequate power and consider the effects of EBM training on learning environment and patient outcomes.