Document Type: Letter to Editor

Authors

1 School of Medical Education Sciences, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

2 Department of e-learning at Virtual University of Medical Sciences, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

3 Clinical Education Research Center, Shiraz university of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran

Abstract

Dear Editor, Extracurricular activities for the gifted andtalented students in Iran derive from thebelief that students with high potentials areexpected to make great help for the healthcare of the community. One of these activitiesis holding medical science Olympiads. In theprevious meeting report about medical scienceOlympiad in year 2011, a unique experienceof Islamic Republic of Iran was reported. TheOlympiad was held in three areas of basicsciences, clinical reasoning and management byparticipation of high rank medical students fromall over the country in two stages: individual andgroup (1-4).After performing 8 Olympiads in the country,the ninth Olympiad was held in September 2017in Tehran, Iran differently with more emphasison creativity and productivity.While creativity in health care is mostlysupposed to be innovations in surgical devices,medications, and procedures, we believed that italso relates to other health care disciplines likebasic sciences, medical education, philosophy ofmedicine and management. Creativity in thesefields is a newer concept that may result in findingnovel solutions to health care and educationalproblems and challenges such as improvingpatient care and coordinating care across multipledisciplines and difficult conditions.Shahid Beheshti University of MedicalSciences was the host of the Ninth NationalMedical Science Olympiad in September 2017under direct supervision of Ministry of Healthand Medical Education. This Olympiad was heldin five areas including basic sciences, clinicalmedicine, medical education, philosophy ofmedicine and health care management. All topranked students in medical sciences (such asmedicine, pharmacy, nursing, health management,dentistry, etc.) from all over the country had thechance of participating in this Olympiad. In Iranintegration of medical education and health caredelivery system has started in 50 universities ofmedical sciences all over the country (5). 2151students from these universities participated inthe individual Olympiad exam. Then 30 teamsin each of the five areas (total 450 teams) wereselected 55 experts in five scientific committeesconstructed the Olympiad questions in individualand team stages. A unique experience in the NinthOlympiad was using a novel and creative projectbased assignment for each team in each of thefive areas. These projects were Evidence-based decision making, public private partnership, earlyclinical exposure, medical futility and autonomicmodulation on the brain functional connectivityrelated to depression.75 percent of the students stated that theywere satisfied with these innovative and creativeprojects in different areas. 84 percent of thefaculties reported that this kind of Olympiadincreased students’ motivation and led themto compare issues friendly with each other ina scientific environment. 69.25 percent of thestudents reported that increasing the numberof teams in this Olympiad for problem solvingactivities was a very good experience for themand ascertained that such activities should beincluded in the formal curriculum of medicalschools.The main shortcoming in this Olympiadreported by the students was the competitivenature of the exam and subjectivity in scoringthe projects in some areas.Performing such Olympiads is essential indiscovering talented students and developingtheir capabilities to promote health systems.Although academic merit is not the onlyindicator of success in health science disciplines,designing additional programs for gifted andtalented students is warranted to help academicallytalented students to further their knowledge.