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New certificate boosts quality research in the District

Dr Adrian Boscolo is taking part in the Graduate Certificate in Health Research. 

Man standing at a desk using computer with multiple monitors
SydneyConnect Image: Dr Adrian Boscolo

As a staff specialist at RPA Virtual Hospital, GP Dr Adrian Boscolo understands the importance of being able to deliver quality virtual care.

"It's great to be able to meet the patients on their terms. Often, it's more convenient and comfortable for them; plus virtual care has enabled us to reach people we might not have traditionally been able to, such as those with access issues," Dr Boscolo said.

"On the clinical side, it's also helped us to keep people safe," he said.

The COVID-19 pandemic drove the uptake of this model of care – and inspired Dr Boscolo to undertake research that he hopes will help to improve virtual care.

He is set to conduct a research study comparing the effectiveness of video consultations with phone consultations.

"COVID really made us think about how our virtual assessments of patients differ from face-to-face," he said.

"There isn't a lot of research out there on what makes a good virtual consultation and I always aim for evidence-based approaches so if we are to deliver quality care, we need a strong evidence base."

As a first-time researcher, Dr Boscolo admits to being slightly daunted by the process.

That's why he's enrolled in the Graduate Certificate in Health Research, a new course being offered by Sydney Local Health District's Centre for Workforce Education and Development.

The course teaches those working in health the key skills required to design and conduct their own studies.

It also aims to help participants understand research carried out by others, explained Research Education Consultant Dr Mark Elkins, who is the course coordinator.

"Now when they read a published study they can understand if it's good or bad research. A badly-done study is a shame because it's a waste of research and a waste of patients' time and effort," Dr Elkins said.

There are 16 clinicians from disciplines including medical, nursing, physiotherapy and data management in the course's first intake.

"It's very broad, so it will hopefully have a strong impact across the District and really bring up the standard of research," Dr Elkins said.

Dr Boscolo found the course and the guidance of his tutors invaluable.

"I went into my research project knowing it would be challenging but this is where the Grad Cert has been really helpful. I feel really supported. It's been great to have informal chats with Mark and be able to problem-solve together.

"The course is very collaborative and it's also very hands on. I would absolutely recommend it to others. Doing the course has expanded my thinking about the way that we assess evidence for care. This feeds back into better quality care for our patients, which is why we do what we do."