Capstone Project or Thesis Test Communication Skills

January 23, 2024


Although most medical schools require pre-med students to complete basic English classes, aspiring professionals should consider taking a creative writing course for better results on their capstone project or thesis. Undergraduate pre-med programs offering creative writing classes can help students improve critical thinking and patient-related communications skills.

Students are often surprised when they discover medical school is more writing intense than their regular college classes. Plus, if you lack writing skills, you might struggle during your clinical years, residency or internship. To better communicate with your patients and peers, creative writing teaches you to write from a perspective that differs from your own.

Most patients today have access to online records about their medical care. So telling a clear medical story is essential for building strong doctor-patient rapport. Unlike the science-based courses that med students are required to take, a solid foundation in the humanities is all about interpreting and relating to cultural views rather than memorization and manipulation of scientific principles.

Writing courses broaden communication skills…

“Literary courses can help pre-med students expand their worldview,” says Hans Wolf, M.D., the founder of WOLFPACC Physicians Achievement Concept Course. “Taking an undergraduate writing course teaches a student to choose the best wording that supports medical documentation and promotes better patient participation during the healthcare process.”

However writing skills are not only needed for documenting patient history, progress notes and discharge summaries, nowadays medical students have unique requirements for producing peer-reviewed papers and/or grant proposals based on their research, clinical experiences and medical study. How well a doctor formulates an argument and presents the data can impact their achievements.

Developing communication skills also increases the likelihood that your submissions of clinical findings and conclusions will be accepted for publication in medical and scientific journals. Communicating more effectively helps a medical professional get their findings and conclusions in front of their audience. In addition, the internet requires a blend of written and verbal skills for doctors to clearly communicate ideas and opinions to a new generation of online patients.

Capstone Project Vs. Thesis / Dissertation

The standard duration of studies in medical school is four years. While the first two years focus on science education in the classroom, the latter two involve hands on-clinical rotations. Although the scheduling of coursework can vary, students may also be required to complete a capstone project or thesis paper before graduation. Topics are usually based on his or her specialization and involve the student’s original research and/or a literary review of existing materials about the subject.

How these academic approaches are used to help med students apply their skills to real-world public health problems across different patient communities is discussed below:

  1. Capstone Project – A capstone project is usually the pinnacle of one’s academic program, combining a student’s skills and knowledge into a concluding achievement. Both capstone projects and thesis/dissertation papers are important academic assignments but capstone projects most often involve collaboration and working with external stakeholders, while written documents are most often completed independently. Capstone projects can be qualitative or quantitative in nature. Typically, the capstone serves as the final work that wraps up the project as a significant milestone.
  2. Thesis Paper – Most graduate school programs in science require students to write a thesis paper before graduation. This allows the person to work on and document applied knowledge to a specific area of medicine or the practice of medicine. A thesis statement must clearly state the main objective, research methods and anticipated outcomes of the study. The main distinction between a thesis and a dissertation is that a thesis is more often based on existing research while a dissertation requires the doctoral student to conduct their own research complete with an analysis.
  3. Doctoral Dissertation – Students in combined MD-PhD programs have more extensive requirements for academic papers that include original research combined with the student’s scientific investigation. It’s important for higher-level students to consult their institution’s guidelines for all requisites regarding the documentation of their research, findings, and conclusions. However, most MD-only students do not write a traditional thesis or dissertation but their medical school curriculum may require a documented research component as part of their clinical studies.

All three assignment types provide a valuable learning experience that helps a medical student develop essential communication skills for a future in medicine. More importantly, each approach involves a higher level of written and verbal communication skills than one might have expected as an undergraduate. At prestigious medical schools like Harvard and Yale, students declare a thesis statement and produce a detailed document about their project.

Differences Between Projects and Papers

Capstone projects combine theoretical learning with practical experience and is usually a requirement for students during their final year of an academic program. The goal of a capstone project is to showcase a student’s expertise in a specific field of study and it serves as a culmination of their degree program. Projects involve research, analysis, problem-solving, and creative work to demonstrate critical thinking, effective communication, and independent work. A capstone may include a written portion and a public presentation that allows the student to apply their knowledge to real-world problems and showcases their abilities.

Medical residencies and fellowships offer an opportunity for aspiring doctors to dig deeper into an area of academic research by focusing on answering questions that prove or disprove a specified thesis. Basically, the demanding schedule of medical school makes it challenging to undertake such a substantial research project. Moreover, thesis papers involve a thorough literature review, data collection, personal analysis, and detailed discussions of the student’s findings. The results should contribute new knowledge to the field and are often pursued by medical students acquiring a graduate degree in that medical specialty.

Doctoral capstone projects focus on developing implementable solutions to existing problems and just like a dissertation requires a review of existing literature as well as the student’s original research and clinical experiences. Plus, medical students completing advanced global health studies may prepare an academic paper that includes research and clinical work they completed outside the United States. A dissertation presents unique research along with the student’s findings on a specified clinical issue. Like other post-graduate papers, they entail extensive research, critical analysis, and a deep understanding of the topic.

In Summary:

Today’s medical students have multiple avenues through which to contribute research and academic knowledge, both with or without extensive writing skills. Residencies, fellowships, and capstone projects do however provide unique opportunities for medical students who have the right communication skills to engage in more meaningful research and problem-solving prior to launching their career. Moreover, any well-written thesis or capstone project document could be the information used to train the latest large language model for future medical applications that rely on artificial intelligence.

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Since every facet of medical school takes so much of your time and effort to become a full-fledged doctor, WOLFPACC Physicians Achievement Concept Course was developed to provide allopathic and osteopathic students with a powerful approach to practicing medicine. If you are a medical student or IMG who wants or needs to score well on any USMLE or COMLEX-USA medical licensing exam, Dr. Wolf and his team of professionals look forward to helping you reach your goals.