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Not three years ago research was not part of the curriculum or the mindset of SJSM Bonaire. And yet since then there is a fully functional Research Methods course in the curriculum for MD2’s, interactive sessions in both MD3 and MD4, where students are expected to present their critical assessments of published papers, as well as a full ‘hands-on’ research project running through both MD3 and MD4 where small groups of students select, design and prosecute their own research.

In parallel, the research focus of many faculty has increased enormously, both in the numbers of faculty involved in research and in the variety of the research being pursued. Some of the research is extensions or continuations of research they had been doing elsewhere, but at the same time a growing proportion of the research is Bonaire-focussed, and both draws on and has implications for the future of the island. Many of the projects rely on the participation of the local population, but then also generates information that can be of benefit to them as well, so the overall health awareness of the island’s people may improve.

But it’s not only the people. Some of the projects have looked at environmentally important factors. One in particular has demonstrated that at least four of the top predator fish species, ones commonly caught and eaten by the island’s population, are safe to consume as far as mercury contamination is concerned, unlike many parts of the Gulf.

Amazingly, even in such a short time, several papers have been accepted for publication by a wide variety of international peer-reviewed journals, and three of them were based directly on work carried out by SJSM students, who are co-authors of the papers. Currently, some of the student-driven research projects have progressed far enough to be close to being publishable, while others are of a more long term nature, or require further development. However, ultimately the vast majority of these projects can result in some form of publication, either a full paper, a short communication or a conference presentation.

So any prospective student thinking of coming to SJSM Bonaire can look forward to an increasingly active research component to their studies, and all the mental stimulation and satisfaction well-done research can provide.

Dr. Bruce Davidson,
Dean of Students Affairs
Saint James School of Medicine-Bonaire

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