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Physiotherapist, Dr. Dor Vadas from Israel, shares his experience of studying for the MSc in Evidence-Based Health Care, describing it as a platform that allowed him to become better in connecting the academic world of research and evidence with ‘real life’ practice.

Profile picture for Student, Dr. Dor Vadas

For many years practicing physical therapy as a paramedical professional, I had an ongoing conflict between the academic world of research and ‘the real life’ of practice that had almost nothing to do with evidence. I was reading evidence, and even involved in producing some literature, but always considered both worlds as parallel lines that I could not really connect.

The MSc program in Evidence Based Health Care (EBHC) at Oxford has changed all that. This was way more than a degree for me. It was a platform that allowed me to become better in both worlds that have become one during this program.

I believe it was Albert Einstein who said “if you can’t explain it to a 6 year old child, then you probably didn’t get it yourself”. Well, this program and those who run it get it!!! And they work hard to wrap up the EBHC topic in the best way for us students.

I really valued my time in Oxford. While on-line studying may be easier for the working person to engage time-wise, I felt that the face to face learning experience was priceless and the opportunity to interact with front line academics and other students for an intensive week of teaching was truly irreplaceable.

The history and philosophy of evidence based health care course run by Prof Jeremy Howick, accompanied by Prof Ulrich Trohler and Sir Iain Chalmers, was a mind-blowing experience for me. It is not possible to understand the EBM movement without understanding its origins, and the way it was developed. Debating the most fundamental questions, such as whether the medical world is a better place with the existence of evidence based practice, was not blasphemy on this course. Not only did we have an opportunity to listen and interact with this team of amazing mentors during the course, they also thought that it may be a good idea to have Prof Peter Gotzsche (one of the founders of Cochrane library) coming all the way from Denmark to talk to us for the evening over a glass of wine about topics from his work.

The systematic review course was a well-oiled workshop for small groups of students who were lucky enough to get in and be led hand by hand by Prof Mike Clarke, one of the founders of the concept of systematic reviews. It was an ongoing one man show for the whole intensive week, leaving a life-long impression on us as students.

There were further courses, such as the mixed-methods course that Dr Stephanie Tierney ran, which made complex concepts easy and manageable. Being able to communicate with our tutors through the entire program was a great benefit. It was possible through the lessons, during tea breaks in the common room, and even during lunch time when all of us ate together, to ask questions and voice our opinions.  

Back home these days I miss those weeks in Oxford when after each school day all of us students from all over the world walked to one of the local bars and would talk about everything that matters over a pint.

Most of my dissertation work was done on-line during the COVID-19 pandemic. With the great and comprehensive support I got from my supervisors, through frequent on-line meetings, a paper we wrote based on this work was published (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34460334/).

I feel today that it is not about the race of being updated with the huge amount of literature that exists in the academia of each medical field. It is about truly understanding the value of each paper that we eventually decide to read. To be aware of why we chose to read it, being able to apprise it, question it, and value its findings before we decide to trust the author’s conclusions.

Like everyone I guess, I always felt comfortable in my workplace doing my job because I had obtained the relevant knowledge and practice. Today, when I chose to read a paper or am asked my opinion on one, I have the knowledge and have done the practice so I feel comfortable. After all… that is part of my work…